WHERE TO STAY IN THE COTSWOLDS
Thyme, Southrop Manor Estate
Holiday accommodation in the Cotswolds tends to veer towards pubs with rooms and cosy rental cottages, but if you’re in the market for something more polished, Thyme is a great bet. In the picturesque village of Southrop, Thyme is a thoughtfully restored series of houses and farm buildings, forming a private hamlet with an award-winning restaurant, spa and cookery school centred around its extensive kitchen gardens.
The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach
Small but perfectly formed rooms in this popular Northleach pub make it a great jumping-off point for some beautiful spots nearby. We often used to stay here when we were looking for somewhere to rent in the area – it’s handy for local towns Stow-on-the-Wold, Burford and Cirencester, and the food is worth a try too.
WHERE TO EAT IN THE COTSWOLDS
The Lamb Inn, Shipton-under-Wychwoood
We’re pretty spoilt for great pubs in this part of the world, but The Lamb still stands out. From the team behind the much-loved Bell at Langford, the recently renovated Lamb gives platonically perfect country inn with lots of open fires, dark wood and thoughtful food that’s a cut above. And not a tweezered herb in sight.
D’Ambrosi Fine Foods, Stow-on-the-Wold
With all the great pubs in the Cotswolds, you occasionally feel you’ll turn into a roast potato if you see just one more, and that’s where the d’Ambrosis come in. Husband and wife team Andrew and Jesse are a pair of NYC imports who have brought some much-needed colour to the picturesque village of Stow-on-the-Wold. An ever-evolving takeaway menu that might include outrageously good fried chicken one week and Szechuan pork the next, their big flavours are matched by their wonderful welcome. Not to be missed.
The Straw Kitchen, Whichford
The perfect antidote if the Cotswolds ever starts to feel a bit too neat and tidy, this weekend brunch spot is beloved by locals and visitors alike. Open from March to December, the warm and rustic Straw Kitchen is in the grounds of the renowned Whichford Pottery and has a strong emphasis on local suppliers, home-grown ingredients and sustainable practices. And it’s all delicious.
The Woolpack, Slad
Something of a pilgrimage spot for fans of the poet and novelist Laurie Lee, who immortalised life in the picturesque Slad Valley in his novel ‘Cider with Rosie’, visiting The Woolpack Inn is like stepping back in time. It would be worth it alone for the views and the colourful locals, but the food is also top notch, with an ingredients-led, St John-like simplicity that makes it one of our favourite places for lunch.
WHERE TO SHOP IN THE COTSWOLDS
Brownrigg Antiques, Tetbury
Our favourite antiques dealer, Brownrigg has an unmatched selection of fine and decorative items, ranging from French and Spanish mid-century pieces to much older antiques. The magic is in the mix; the effortless way Jorge and David curate their beautiful Tetbury shop allows visitors to imagine new dialogues between styles and periods, often coming away with something glamorous, playful and totally unexpected.
Jaffé & Neale, Chipping Norton
A perfect village bookshop at the centre of its community, with a great café to boot, visiting Jaffé & Neale is enough to make you swear off Amazon for life. Friendly, knowledgeable staff and a great atmosphere make this an ideal spot to while away an hour or two on a wet weekend.
Jolly Nice, Frampton Mansell
Does what it says on the tin – an incredibly well-stocked farm shop specialising in Cotswold suppliers that really is jolly nice. Set in a series of yurts, with a drive through café, a great selection of local produce and an award-winning butcher, Jolly Nice is the perfect stop-off for dinner supplies on the way home after lunch at the Woolpack, if like me you’re always thinking about the next meal.
Cutter Brooks, Stow-on-the-Wold
Amanda Brooks’ eponymous store has gained a cult following since it opened in 2018, with enviable collections of tabletop pieces, clothing and homewares. With an emphasis on close collaborations with suppliers to create ranges that can’t be found anywhere else, Cutter Brooks is especially worth a visit around the holiday season for its unsurpassed selection of baubles, Christmas decorations and festive fun.
WHERE TO VISIT IN THE COTSWOLDS
An imposing Jacobean country house that’s now maintained by the National Trust. Owned by the same family for nearly 400 years, the house has been kept almost exactly as it was when the trust took over in 1991, and stands out among their properties for not feeling overly restored.
Painswick Rococo Garden
Just outside the beautiful village of Painswick, the remarkable Rococo Garden was designed in the 1740s as a fanciful folly, filled with temples and eye-catchers reflecting the fashion of the day for frivolous ornamental garden buildings. Derelict and abandoned by 1950, its restoration began in the 1980s and continues to this day. Eccentric and beguiling in equal measure, it’s well worth a visit. Aim for the warmer months to see the garden at its best.