The Cotswolds to me is one of the most beautiful areas of England, full of little stone cottages, rambling country roads, wheat fields, chocolate box houses and delightful, quintessentially British country pubs.
It oozes charm and beauty and there is something inherently magical about the area. It’s like escaping to a fairy-tale, storybook world of unspoilt, towns and villages.
The architecture of the Cotswolds cottages with their slate or thatch roofs, arched doorways and small rooms - which are often irregularly shaped and uneven, ooze charisma and beauty. I find the low ceilings and old beams, little quirky windows dotted at random about the cottages are all really endearing and quirky. They are cosy, inviting and so very delightful.
There is a lovely sense of community too in all the villages I visited, and the locals are incredibly welcoming and chatty.
It is an area of the world I had wanted to visit from a young age. I grew up in Dublin and spent a lot of Summer holidays visiting relatives in the UK. This was an area my Mum used to talk about a lot as she adored the architecture and overall feel of the area. I have always loved travelling to the countryside and I relish in the small details in life. The Cotswolds is overflowing with them and the surrounding countryside is breathtakingly picturesque. A few years ago I was working in London for 6 months so I planned my first trip. I returned in Sept 2018 for my second visit.
I have stayed at The Lamb Inn on two occasions. It’s located in the gorgeous medieval village of Burford – a town which is often described and the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’
I did a huge amount of research on the Cotswolds area before booking accommodation as it is an area I had longed to visit for many years and I wasn’t disappointed when I arrived at The Lamb Inn (and hence why I returned to stay again on my second trip).
It’s a stunning little inn, complete with low ceilings and wooden beams, low doors, uneven stairs, wonky corridors and old stone floors. It was so lovely on each occasion to check into the hotel during the early evening and walk into pub area with the fire roaring and locals enjoying a beer with their dogs at their feet, which too were being watered and fed.
It has a fantastic, award winning restaurant which I would highly recommend eating dinner in at least once over a weekend stay. It is the same restaurant in which they serve an abundant breakfast each morning. The bar is cosy and inviting and serves great pub fare. The staff are really superb too in their attentiveness to the guests and have a total ‘nothing is too much trouble’ attitude. I enjoyed G&Ts in their large beautiful garden which is a-typical English country in style and abundant with romantic flowers and shrubbery. It would be a sensational venue in which to host a wedding
The rooms were incredibly cosy and beautifully dressed. I chose a different room on each stay – their Shepherd Room first and then the Allium room, the latter being their largest and which boasts a huge bathroom with deep, freestanding bath.
In all the places at which I have stayed in the Cotswolds, the main endearing feature which is abundant, is charm.
I loved the little details such as the old teddy-bear on the bed and full size Molton Brown products in their bathrooms. They make their own in-house flapjacks and leave them beautifully wrapped for you in your room. Each day they pop a note under your door highlighting some local and surrounding attractions for you to consider visiting.
The staff in particular were so lovely and overall there is just a really wonderful sense of history and ‘olde worlde’ charisma to all the hotels I stayed at in the Cotswolds, but in particular at The Lamb Inn. At night, in as you sit looking out of the small, lead-light windows, there is a real sense that you have been transported back in time some 200 years and almost expect to hear the sound of a horse and stagecoach coming down the street. There is something wonderfully enchanting about the hotel.
THE TOWN OF BURFORD
One of my fondest memories during my first trip was wandering around the quaint Cotswold village of Upper Slaughter (which is near Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold). I headed out around 7pm with my camera just as dusk was starting to settle in and captured some beautiful photos in the early evening light. It’s a very quiet village and you feel really removed from the outside world once all day visitors leave. I splurged a bit on my accommodation here and spent a night at the gloriously beautiful Lords of the Manor. It’s a 4 star hotel set in 8 acres of lawns and grandiose gardens and dates back to 1649. It was incredibly luxurious and well worth splashing out on for a special occasion. Their Michelin star restaurant is widely acclaimed and highly popular.
Bibury was once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England and it is definitely worth a visit. It’s a small town with one or two pubs but mainly residential to a small community. I stayed one night here at The Swan which is a sister hotel to The Lamb Inn. It is a little more modern in style inside however still very beautiful and luxurious.
My top 5 places to eat, drink and get coffee/tea in the Cotswolds
Most of the places I visited for food were pub/restaurants. The area is abundant with them and they really offer the best foodie experience of the Cotswolds. There are numerous Country Manor hotels which are equally as good, but I feel when visiting this part of Britain, their country inns and pubs are the way to go.
The Lamb Inn, Burford. Clearly from my writing above, this would be my top recommendation for a bite to eat and where to enjoy a good, local English ale.
I stopped in at The Porch House in Stow on the Wold for lunch during my second trip. I had to visit it as I read that it is England’s oldest pub, dating back to 947AD. It’s been modernised a bit inside but retains the interior history well.
The Wild Rabbit Inn at Kingham near Chipping Norton is utterly stunning. I enjoyed a fantastic and very memorable pig cheek and smoked eel meal here during my first trip.
After the polo lesson at Cirencester, my polo instructor, Martin took us to The Bell at Sapperton which is a pub they often ride the horses to and stop for a beer and a bite for eat. I enjoyed a terrifically good British pie here and the atmosphere was to match.
My top 5 shops in the Cotswolds
I stopped in at the Cotswold’s Cheese Company in Burford and picked up some local cheeses and a good bottle of red to bring on a picnic on one of the days I was there. It’s a charming little store and worth a look see.
Oka is a beautiful interiors shop in the village of Broadway where I picked up some beautiful plates to add to my food photography prop collection. They also sell stunning cushions in particular.
Broadway Deli at St. Patricks was a fantastic gourmet food and drink shop on the main street in Broadway. The shop it’s is jam-packed with foodie delights and has lots of little nooks and crannies which you find yourself ambling in and out of.
Long Street Antiques is located in the old market town of Tetbury. Housed in a Georgian townhouse it is a veritable cornucopia of vintage porcelain, art, decorative items and antique finds.
On the edge of Burford village, the Burford Garden Company is jam packed with everything English Country garden and also has an extensive homewares section. I rambled around this store for hours.