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Image: Andrew Brownsword Hotels

The best hotels in the Cotswolds for a luxurious staycation

23 Mar 2023|By Annie Lewis

The most spectacular hotels from which to make the most of England's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

‘The truth is that it has no colour that can be described. Even when the sun is obscured and the light is cold, these walls are still faintly warm and luminous, as if they knew the trick of keeping the lost sunlight of centuries glimmering about them.’ So wrote J. B. Priestley in his 1934 travelogue, English Journey, on the honey-gold stone that characterises villages in the Cotswolds.

You’ll know the sort of stone, and the type of villages, from cameo appearances in the Harry Potter franchise, as well as Bridget Jones’s Diary, Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey and, most conspicuously of all, as the backdrop to Father Brown (the BBC’s second longest-running daytime drama, don’t you know).

Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966, the Cotswolds covers almost 800 square miles across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and Worcestershire. While Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water constitute the most popular tourist towns, there are myriad castles, country estates and places of interest to explore. Not to mention thousands of miles of footpaths and walking trails. So, here are the best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds from which to explore England’s green and pleasant land.

The Lakes by Yoo, Lechlade Upon Thames

Set amongst 850 acres of lakes, meadows and woodlands, The Lakes by Yoo offers an authentic wilderness oasis with a collection of new waterside cabins and apartments available for weekend escapes from the capital. With acclaimed design partners including Kate Moss and Jade Jagger, The Lakes by Yoo has become a haven for families and friends to come together and recharge in an idyllic setting just 90 minutes from London.

From fishing and boating to tennis and zip-wiring, there’s plenty to occupy young and old thanks to the dedicated concierge service which is on hand to arrange bespoke experiences and events on demand. Book a mixologist for a cocktail tasting session in your cabin or arrange for a private chef experience so you can sit back and relax while dining al fresco on the deck. Alternatively, dine at the estate’s restaurant, Elsa’s, which serves family favourites including wood-fired pizzas, fresh fish and chips and locally-sourced steaks.

From £995 per night, visit thelakesbyyoo.com

The Lygon Arms, Broadway

A historic Cotswolds coaching inn with an unrivalled guestbook dating back to the 14th century, The Lygon Arms is situated within the postcard-perfect village of Broadway. The hotel is steeped in history, due not only to its superbly-restored architecture, but because Oliver Cromwell visited the inn the night before the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It also later served as a touchstone for King Charles I and his supporters during the English Civil War. Since then, The Lygon Arms has been a popular choice for romantic getaways and guests have included Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who escaped to the hotel at the height of Hollywood‘s most scandalous affair.

Perfect for those looking for a dog-friendly stay, The Lygon Arms offers pooches and their owners an array of courtyard-adjacent guest rooms, spa facilities and even a dog-friendly afternoon tea menu. Dark walls, historic paintings and tartan-clad furnishings adorn the bars and lounges at The Lygon, while upstairs is home to countryside-chic bedrooms equipped with TVs, plush bedding and large ensuites. More recently, The Lygon has become home to two new culinary experiences by celebrity chef, James Martin. Start the night at Tavern — an intimate pub serving Hawkstone Brewery beers and a range of whiskys and gins — before tucking into Côte De Boeuf for two and Cotswolds lamb shank at the Grill.

From £195 per night, visit lygonarmshotel.co.uk

Foxhill Manor, Farncombe Estate

Nestled upon Fish Hill within an intimate Grade II-listed Arts and Crafts country home, five-star Foxhill Manor epitomises personalised luxury. Adopting a ‘whatever you fancy, wherever you fancy it’ motto, this newly-renovated hotel offers the perfect home-away-from-home retreat. Upon arrival, you’ll be welcomed as though entering the house of good friends. There is no restaurant, instead chefs will sit with you each day to take your request for dinner, offering advice on the best seasonal ingredients. Next, pick your own dining spot around the house — whether that be the lounge, the extensive cinema room, or even one of the many phenomenal bathtubs found throughout the hotel. The landings are dotted with pantries complete with retro Smeg fridges filled with refreshments, and alcohol is available from the drinks trolleys, bars and wine fridges found throughout the manor house.

Among eight individually-designed, spacious suites and bedrooms is the Oak Suite, Foxhill Manor’s most in-demand suite for honeymooners. Featuring a king-size bed, separate living area with feature fireplace, and twin freestanding bathtubs by a large bay window, couples are in prime position to truly admire the Cotswolds.

From £599 per night, visit foxhillmanor.com

Dormy House Hotel & Spa, Broadway

Perched high above the picturesque village of Broadway lies 17th-century farmhouse hotel, Dormy House. Think cosy corners, log fires, two exquisite dining spaces, an intimate bar, and sumptuous spa, making Dormy House the perfect rural retreat. After a £14 million renovation, all 39 bedrooms and suites have been individually designed in an array of colours, fabrics and patterns by leading British interior design studio Todhunter Earle (also responsible for Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire). With traditional rooms in the main farmhouse and more secluded, dog-friendly rooms in the courtyard and Rose Cottage (with some even boasting private hot tubs), you can rest easy knowing that all of your needs will be taken care of.

Boldly putting Dormy House on the Cotswolds food map, is MO — the interactive 12-seat chef’s table restaurant offering eight-course tasting experiences of locally sourced ingredients. With chefs and a sommelier explaining each innovative, considerate course, you can leave Dormy content that you have had a true taste of the Cotswolds. To soak up the excesses, the House Spa offers a restful haven, complete with TempleSpa treatments, indoor infinity pool, outdoor hot tub, salt steam room, and lavender and juniper saunas.

From £309 per night, visit dormyhouse.co.uk

The Fish, Farncombe Estate

Part boutique hotel, part adventure hideout, The Fish is an award-winning hotel on the 400-acre Farncombe Estate. This back-to-nature bolthole boasts an exciting mix of accommodation, including chic shepherd’s huts, three treehouses, rooms and suites — all inspired by nature and botanicals. For those looking for a luxurious stay that brings the outdoors in (and the indoors out — with two heated outdoor baths or a private hot tub on the deck), the stand-out Hideaway Hut Boaty McBoatFace also has its very own paddle boat to relax whilst floating around the lake, or for popping across to the private island for a romantic evening or picnic lunch.

Foodies will enjoy Hook — a seafood restaurant featuring the finest, freshest, responsibly-sourced fish — and The Feasting Deck, an alfresco dining terrace for groups of 10-30 to enjoy a specially prepared feast while admiring the beauty of the surrounding woodland. If you're happy to venture into the countryside, stop by The Boot Room to pick up your own pair of wellies, maps of the area and walking equipment. Got your pooch and kids too? No problem, let your dog loose on the eight-obstacle dog agility course before visiting the children’s play zone, created using recycled wood from across the estate. Farncombe Adventures, just a short drive from The Fish, invites families to try their hand at axe-throwing, archery, clay-pigeon shooting and hovercrafting during their stay, too.

From £220 per night, visit thefishhotel.co.uk

Lucknam Park, Chippenham

Located at the southernmost tip of the Cotswolds — close to Chippenham and Bath — dog-friendly Lucknam Park reveals its country-manor glamour at the end of a mile-long avenue lined with lime and beech trees. There are only 42 rooms and suites, each individually designed, and seven sole-occupancy cottages. Given that the hotel is set in some 500 acres of parkland, you can go an entire day without bumping into any other guests — until everyone presents themselves at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Hywel Jones for dinner. Elsewhere, there’s the more informal The Brasserie, an equestrian centre and a well-appointed spa using goods from Natural Spa Factory and 111SKIN. Come summer, guests can make use of a personalised picnic service.

From £295 per night, visit lucknampark.co.uk

Buckland Manor, Worcestershire

Nestled among beautifully-designed gardens stands the opulent Buckland Manor — one of the finest manor houses in the Cotswolds. If you're not relaxing next to a crackling log fires in one of the cosy lounges, burn some energy on the tennis court or try horse riding, hunting and hiking in the surrounding area. Offering top hospitality, fine wines and exquisite food, Buckland Manor caters for sumptuous dinners or lighter al fresco lunches amid glorious vistas where the sun falls on honeyed stone. With its air of classic English charm, Buckland Manor offers an idyllic spot for a few days away — and one we're sure you won't want to leave.

From £310 per night, visit relaischateaux.com

Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham

Grade II-listed Southam House, with its honey-coloured turrets and towers, was a baronial hall and then a private girls’ school before it was turned into luxury hotel Ellenborough Park in 2008. Original features include 16th-century oak beams, wood-panelled rooms, great stone fireplaces and winding staircases. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the hotel has 62 rooms and a private pathway to neighbouring Cheltenham Racecourse, which can be seen from the hotel’s front lawn. You can also make use of a heated outdoor pool and a spa with sauna and mood showers. There’s an accomplished restaurant inside the hotel, and rolling, wooded countryside all around.

From £243 per night, visit ellenboroughpark.com

Soho Farmhouse, Chipping Norton

Back in 2015, Nick Jones, founder of the Soho House group, once again proved himself the members’ club kingpin with the Midas touch by transforming a derelict smallholding some 20 miles north of Oxford into the group’s first ‘resort’. Immediately, the 100-acre estate, with its collection of converted 18th-century outbuildings, became one of the UK’s most talked-about country retreats.

You have to be a member of Soho House to stay at Soho Farmhouse — and enjoy its three restaurants, spa, pub, cinema, cookery room, indoor and outdoor pool, gym, tennis court and boating lake. You'll also need to be tolerant of urban warriors under the illusion that they’re experiencing the true British countryside. You’ll find them at the sushi bar.

From £370 per night, visit sohohouse.com

The Greenway Hotel & Spa, Cheltenham

A 16th Century Elizabethan manor house with its own Elan-backed spa — hydrotherapy pool, tick; outdoor hot tub, tick; fitness suite, tick — The Greenway Hotel & Spa comprises just 21 (generously proportioned) bedrooms. Guests have two restaurants to choose from, including a 3 AA Rosette contemporary British fine dining option, The Garden Room. Close to Cheltenham (three-and-a-half miles away) and set in eight acres of well-kept grounds, The Greenway is a classic open-fire-and-grand-staircase sort of hotel — an ideal base from which to explore the Cotswolds on foot.

From £202 per night, visit thegreenwayhotelandspa.com

Thyme, Lechlade

A self-titled village within a village, Thyme is a boutique hotel spread across Southrop Manor’s sprawling 150-acre estate. Made up of several 17th-century honey-stone cottages, a former rectory, a barn and a farmhouse, all of which have been stylishly restored, Thyme initially began life as a cookery school founded by the manor’s owner, Caryn Hibbert, before growing to offer the full gamut of luxury hospitality. It now comprises 31 refined rooms, two restaurants, a bar and a spa.

Pack your walking boots for a stroll around the estate’s verdant gardens and wildflower-strewn meadows, or venture beyond the boundaries to visit the market town of Cirencester or William Morris’s country escape, Kelmscott Manor. Foodies shouldn’t miss the opportunity to enroll at the cookery school, which offers a year-round programme of classes.

From £360 per night, visit thyme.co.uk

Calcot Hotel & Spa, Tetbury

Dating back to the 14th century, Calcot Hotel & Spa’s tithe barn, now used as an event space, was initially an annexe of Kingwood Abbey, and belonged to the church until the 16th century when King Henry VIII dissolved England’s monasteries. The land has remained under private ownership ever since, and over the years has been expanded to include a manor house and several outbuildings, which now collectively serve as the Calcot Collection’s flagship hotel. Comprising 35 rooms (12 of which are child-free), the hotel promises a peaceful retreat in the charming village of Tetbury, with two restaurants, a large spa with seven treatment rooms and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and excellent playground facilities for children.

From £354 per night, visit calcot.co

Barnsley House, Cirencester

Nestled in the tiny Cotswold village of Barnsley, this 17th-century manor house offers an intimate country escape. The former home of the late garden designer Rosemary Verey, who created outdoor spaces for the likes of King Charles III and Sir Elton John, Barnsley House is home to four acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, including a laburnum avenue, a large vegetable garden — the produce of which is used in the two restaurants, The Potager and The Village Pub — and meadows that back onto a dairy farm. Hidden among the greenery is the Barnsley Spa, where the botanical surroundings inform the treatment menu.

From £475 per night, visit barnsleyhouse.com

Cowley Manor, Cheltenham

According to legend, Lewis Carroll wrote Alice In Wonderland during his visits to the quaint Cotswold village of Cowley, taking inspiration from Cowley Manor’s 55 acres of Grade II-listed gardens. Once a 19th-century stately home — based on the Villa Borghese in Rome and echoing the Italianate architecture of Chatsworth and Cliveden — the manor has a deserving reputation as an award-winning, pet-friendly boutique hotel and spa. Housing 31 bedrooms, this contemporary retreat has been stylishly decked out in vibrant hues with unexpected design features. Cowley Manor is set to reopen this summer and to avoid disappointment, we recommend you start enquiring now...

Visit cowleymanorexperimental.com

The Rectory Hotel, Malmesbury

Originally built as an 18th-century rectory for All Saints’ Church — designed to accommodate all 14 of the rector’s children — The Rectory is a warm and welcoming haven in the pretty Wiltshire village of Crudwell. Featuring 18 bedrooms across the main house and a stone-walled cottage, this Grade II-listed hotel also houses an elegant, contemporary restaurant within its striking glasshouse and an intimate, well-stocked bar. Spend your stay exploring the property’s picturesque grounds and enjoying a dip in the heated outdoor pool. Be sure to book in a visit to the Rectory’s sister pub, The Potting Shed, ideally located just across the road.

From £160 per night, visit therectoryhotel.com

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