Oxford, Bath & The Cotswolds
Flanked by the historic cities of Oxford and Bath, the Cotswolds are rural England at its best. Ancient medieval villages filled with thatched cottages built from traditional honey-coloured limestone, gloriously rolling landscapes and a wealth of castles, manor houses and gardens to visit offer a perfect tonic after visiting London, and there are some truly special places to stay.
With its medieval honey-stone villages, dreamy rolling countryside and rich heritage, the Cotswolds are rural England at its best. Straddling the counties of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and just two hours from London, the Cotswolds offer a chance to unwind and enjoy superb hospitality in historic manor houses and traditional pubs, go antiquing, visit some of England’s finest gardens or get off the beaten track on a rambling cross-country walk.
At one end of the Cotswolds, the academic city of Oxford provides a chance to wander through the quadrangles and dreaming spires of Britain’s oldest university, try your hand at punting on the willow-lined banks of the Thames and visit some of the country’s most important museums. Blenheim Palace in nearby Woodstock is arguably the country’s finest stately home, and you can explore its Churchill and Lady Diana connections or take in the magnificent Capability Brown designed landscaped gardens. At the other end, historic Bath lets you delve into Britain’s Roman history, follow in the literary footsteps of Jane Austen and marvel at the fabulous Regency architecture of Royal Crescent.
But it’s the magical undulating landscapes of the Cotswolds themselves, dotted with ancient honey-coloured limestone villages like Chipping Campden, Bibury and Broadway and thatched inns that date back to the Middle Ages that are likely to linger longest. Spend a few days in the Cotswolds and you can enjoy some wonderful walking, visit world-famous gardens like Hidcote and fairy-tale castles like Sudeley, or search for antiques in some of the many fine shops. For a real treat, and a chance to experience the Cotswolds from an entirely different perspective, take a hot-air balloon ride and glide serenely over this most quintessential of English landscapes.
We’ve found 10 holiday ideas for you
Dormy House Hotel
Near Broadway, Worcestershire
Best for: Couples
Dormy House is a quintessentially English hotel. A lovingly renovated 17th century farm house that blends country chic with log fires and original panelling. Located moments from the village of Broadway this is the perfect base to explore the Cotswolds.
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa
Best for: Culture, Spa & health, Couples
Perfectly located in historic Bath, the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is a sophisticated urban retreat blending period Georgian charm and modern luxury. Its secret gardens, award-winning spa and fine hospitality make the Royal Crescent our top pick in Bath.
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Great Milton, near Oxford
Best for: Couples
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons is a 15th century manor house, located in the picture perfect Oxfordshire village of Great Milton near Oxford. With Raymond Blanc's amazing cuisine, the hotel is simply one of Britain's best rural gastronomic retreats.
Near Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Best for: Culture, Couples
This 14-century farmhouse just three miles from Tetbury is a real gem. Set in the heart of the Cotswolds, Calcot Manor is the perfect countryside tonic for couples and families alike, with stylish rooms and over 220 acres of meadowland to explore.
The Bath Priory
Best for: Couples, Culture, Spa & health
Offering a tranquil haven within walking distance of Bath’s honeyed stone terraces, the Bath Priory welcomes guests as if to the home of a friend, albeit a friend with an award-winning restaurant and L’Occitane spa housed in Georgian grandeur.
Slaughters Manor House
Lower Slaughter, The Cotswolds
Best for: Culture, Diving, Riding, Fishing
Situated in one of England’s prettiest villages, The Slaughters Manor House is a beautiful 17th Century manor house which combines contemporary interiors with country charm, attentive service and one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the Cotswolds.
The Wheatsheaf Inn
Northleach, The Cotswolds
Best for: Couples, Culture
The Wheatsheaf Inn is located in Northleach in the Cotswolds, and is a wonderful example of taking a classic 17th century inn and turning it into a luxurious bolt-hole, yet retaining all its charm and the oodles of character that make it all so special.
Broadway, Gloucesteshire, England
Best for: Couples
A quintessentially British retreat, a visit to Buckland Manor is a must. Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, all of the charming villages are a stone's throw away, but if you just feel like relaxing, a comfy armchair by the fire ought to do it!
Best for: Couples, Short Break
Spread across four Georgian townhouses, the award-winning Queensberry Hotel offers chic and stylish décor, superb dining, gracious drawing room, pretty courtyard garden and a relaxed and informal ambience in a quiet and upmarket area of central Bath.