Thursday, 15 June 2017

Hotels and Inns in the Cotswolds

Hotels & Spas in the Cotswolds2017 has been declared the year of literary heroes by VisitEngland in a drive to celebrate the importance of authors and poets in the country. We took a look at our own hotels and inns in the Cotswolds to dig our some literary connections - and found a few surprises along the way!

Thinking of purely Cotswold characters, Laurie Lee comes to mind first. His novel Cider With Rosie (published as Edge of Day in the US) described childhood in the small (real) village of Slad, a world of cottages, the village pub (The Wool Pack is still there) and church. Cider with Rosie is a lyrical effort and his sequel As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is if anything, even more poignant.

These days hotels and inns in the Cotswolds occupy some of those Stroud valleys and other Cotswold locations. The Painswick Hotel is nearby and also not far from Cranham, where local WWI poet Ivor Gurney walked, traumatised by his experiences in the Great War.

The area around Batsford, Sezincote and Broadway had its literary moment in the sun at about the same time. Nancy Mitford live at Batsford House during the Great War and based part of Love in a Cold Climate on her experiences there (It was called Alconleigh in the novels). She later lived at Swinbrook, where she is buried. After the war, J.M. Barrie spent time at Stanway House and returned the favour by buying a new cricket pavilion for the village.

Hotels and inns in the Cotswolds are well used to answering questions about local authors. One of the most common questions is about Shakespeare, who did describe Gloucestershire in Richard II and may have lived at Dursley.

I am a stranger here in Gloucestershire;
These high wild hills and rough uneven ways
Draw out our miles, and make them wearisome.
But I bethink me, what a weary way
From Ravenspurg to Cotswold will be found

Hotels and inns in the cotswolds and literature

Hotels in the Cotswolds & Spas If Shakespeare did live in Dursley , it’s pleasing that J.K. Rowling also contributed to that town’s fame by naming the family in her stories after the place too. J.K. was at school near the Forest of Dean and a couple of references popped up in her stories. The filmed stories used Gloucester Cathedral as a location.

Hotels and inns in the Cotswolds are often used for creative writing courses - often sessions include walking in the area - something that has inspired several literary greats in the past. J R R Tolkien took epic walks from Oxford and into the Cotswolds and is thought to have and the act of walking in the area has given participants and used the area around Chipping Campden as inspiration for ‘Weathertop’ and (as a lover of a good pub) is thought to have modelled The Bell Inn in Moreton in Marsh as ‘The Prancing Pony’ in Lords of the Rings.

Hotels and inns in the Cotswolds are within easy reach of Bath, which Dickens took a bit of a dislike to (Pickwick Papers) but which was celebrated, slightly mocked and immortalised by Jane Austen. She lived in the town from the time of her father’s retirement until his death - about 5 years, so she knew the place well.

Lewis Carroll The author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass spent significant time around Stow-on-the-Wold, where his friend Reverend Edward Litton was the rector of a church.

Graham Greene’s career, after poor sales of his first novel, brought him to Chipping Campden to concentrate full-time on his writing. Living in a cottage called Little Orchard, he completed Stamboul Train which was his first commercial success.

Hotels and inns in the Cotswolds offer many opportunities for touring and exploring - following a literary theme is a good way to discover some of the lesser-known parts of the area.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Visiting historic houses from hotels in Cotswolds

Hotels & Spas in the CotswoldsVisiting an ancient castle or historic house is a popular pastime in Britain - people love to hear stories of kings and queens and historic characters. Many of our guests use their hotels in Cotswolds to explore the long list of stately homes, castles and historic buildings in the area.

From hotels in Cotswolds, one of the most visited castles is Sudeley. It’s a Tudor Castle, meaning that it dates from the 15th Century. It’s an impressive building with beautiful gardens, but the thing that captures the imagination is that it was once owned by King Henry the Eighth.

Henry (1509-1547). Henry was desperate to have a male heir and married six times seeking a son. His various wives came from England and Europe and he disposed of them in different ways; “Divorced, Married, Died, Divorced, Married, Survived” is something that children still learn at school. Katherine Parr was King Henry’s last wife, the one who survived him and she is entombed in the chapel. At the castle, you can also see some of Katherine’s love letters.

One of our favourite places is Chavanage House. It is said to have a ghost (we love a good ghost story - hotels in Cotswolds often report sightings too!). When Britain had a civil war, in the 17th Century, Colonel Stevens, the owner of Chavanage 17th century, reluctantly agree that the King Charles (who was a prisoner) should be executed. His daughter, in a fit of anger at the decision, laid a curse upon her father. Eventually Colonel Stevens died and all were assembled for his funeral, a carriage drew up at the door of the manor house driven by a headless man.

The Colonel was seen to rise from his coffin and enter the hearse driven by the headless personage, who as he drove away assumed the shape of the dead King, Charles I - this being a reminder of the Colonel's disloyalty to the King. The headless ghost and carriage is said to reappear whenever the end of the family line dies.

The Cotswolds has a unique offer for film location managers: hotel, Cotswolds, scenery, built heritage and natural beauty all combine to make it an attractive location. Here are some famous locations and their real life names - which may help to explain why certain places look familiar to you when you visit for the first time. In fact, the Cotswolds in general also pop up in BBC Countryfile, because Adam Henson’s Cotswolds Farm Park is near Naunton.
Owlpen Manor, a Tudor manor house and garden, near Dursley, was location for The Other Boleyn Girl, based on Philippa Gregory's acclaimed best-selling novel. Chavenage House was used for Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson’s memoir. And also the recent BBC revival of the Poldark stories, where it appeared as the Poldark family home. The hotel Cotswolds combo seems to have worked its magic on location managers again.

Outdoor scenes in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s movie Cemetery Junction were filmed in the Stroud Valleys. From your hotel Cotswolds is not the only option - the cloisters attached to Gloucester Cathedral have been used in many of the Harry Potter films - appearing as ‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary’ - pupils from the adjacent King’s School appeared as extras, Harry’s classmates. The Cathedral has also popped up in episodes of Sherlock and Dr Who.

Arlington Row in Bibury, near Cirencester, provided a street-scene backdrop in the fantasy adventure film Stardust, which starred Sienna Miller. The country Christmas scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary was shot in Snowshill and the crew returned to the area for the sequel Bridget Jones's Baby. The Christening scenes were filmed in Swinbrook church.

Ghost stories from hotels in Cotswolds

Hotels in the Cotswolds & Spas One of our favourite places to visit from hotels in cotswolds is Chavanage House. It is said to have a ghost.

When Britain had a civil war, in the 17th Century, Colonel Stevens, the owner of Chavanage 17th century, reluctantly agree that the King Charles (who was a prisoner) should be executed. His daughter, in a fit of anger at the decision, laid a curse upon her father.

Eventually Colonel Stevens died and all were assembled for his funeral, a carriage drew up at the door of the manor house driven by a headless man. The Colonel was seen to rise from his coffin and enter the hearse driven by the headless personage, who as he drove away assumed the shape of the dead King, Charles I - this being a reminder of the Colonel's disloyalty to the King. The headless ghost and carriage is said to reappear whenever the owner of the house dies.

Ghost hunters also love a visit to Woodchester Mansion a unique Victorian Gothic house hidden in a beautiful Cotswold valley. It is an unfinished masterpiece. Building started about 1857, but mysterious stopped in the mid-1860s. Floors and ceilings are missing, walls not plastered and windows unglazed. All the secrets of the construction of the Mansion are visible - something vou will never see in another Country House.

On the Eastern side of the Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace is an extraordinary place. It’s a World Heritage Site and the only non Royal, non episcopal palace in Britain. Blenheim Palace was built to mark a series of spectacular military victories against the French. The scale is enormous.

Kelmscott Manor was the scene of a tragic love affair. It’s the perfect Cotswold manor house. In Victorian times (19th Century) Kelmscott Manor was leased by William Morris and his friend Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Both were artists, Morris a hugely influential designer of wallpaper and furnishings (still popular today) with connections to Liberty shop in London. Morris brought his family to The Manor, which was then a setting for a love affair between Jane, Morris’s wife, and Rossetti. Morris accommodated the arrangement in the interests of his wife and friend. These days you can visit the house, see the designs and crafts and learn the whole story. There’s a fine garden too - a terrific day out from hotels in cotswolds.

The ‘visiting a country house’ from hotels in Cotswolds experience is never complete without afternoon tea in the cafe and maybe a visit to a garden shop. Most are open between April and October.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Spa hotels Cotswolds

Cotswolds Finest Hotels was created to help people planning a visit to the Cotswolds to find their way through the almost overwhelming choice of hotels in the Cotswolds. Our partnership of twenty plus hotels cover inns, town house hotels and manor house hotels. We’re not a chain so there are plenty of quirky things to discover amongst all that tradition.

Hotels & Spas in the CotswoldsEvery Friday evening, for example, you might see a procession of excited people arrive at the Three Ways House Hotel in the small village of Mickleton, near Chipping Campden in the North Cotswolds. This hotel, one of the few genuinely family-owned hotels in the Cotswolds, is home to The Pudding Club. The ‘Club’ is open to all and sees six traditional British Puddings brought to the table (after a carbohydrate-light main course). It’s a beautiful sight - diners get to taste them all and vote on their favourite of the evening.
It’s a fun evening and the owners have taken their Pudding Club evenings to Japan and New York in the course of a long career.

The hotel rooms are also some of the most inventive amongst hotels in the Cotswolds, themed along pudding lines - with a Spotted Dick room, Sticky Toffee room, Oriental Ginger room, Syrup Sponge themed room and, of course, a Chocolate Suite. There’s a long tradition of spas in the Cotswolds, all those spa hotels cotswolds associations ring true - manor houses with luxury treatments, fresh air and good restaurants. One of the oldest hotels is Charingworth Manor, which has been around for 700 years or so. Tennis courts, gym , pool and sauna make the hotel a great choice for active types. Nearby Cotswold House hotel is a spa retreat in the centre of Chipping Campden popular for the hotels Cotswolds charm and Decleor treatments.

Dormy House, nr Broadway, recently reopened after a substantial refit that put the pool and Spa at the centre of the experience for guests - walk in, float out, is the promise. Guests at nearby Foxhill Manor have access to the Dormy Spa.
Further south amongst hotels cotswolds, The Painswick is another hotel that has recently been fully refurbished and returned with two new rooms for treatments - rooms just happen to have one of the best views in the Cotswolds. The spa uses Elemis skincare products and Leighton Denny for manis and pedis.
Barnsley House, near Bibury offers a spa tucked away in its grounds, with an outdoor heated hydrotherapy pool outside. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide a wide view of the hydrotherapy pool, gardens and countryside.

More spa hotels cotswolds ideas

Hotels in the Cotswolds & Spas Calcot Manor Hotel and Spa is a revered name amongst hotels cotswolds, with an outdoor pool , tennis and outdoor gym, free bikes and seasonal horse riding on offer. The Spa is situated in a quiet corner of the grounds, close to the main house, it’s everything you would expect from a hotels Cotswolds Spa. Quiet, calm, beautifully designed and with the uplifting spa aroma that instantly suggests relaxation.

The Calcot Spa team will do whatever they can to make sure you have everything you need and that every detail of your visit is taken care of. The building is lovely, the lavender-lined outdoor hot tub and open fire is inviting and of course the healthy menu is delicious – but most importantly, the spa and the team are exceptional. You will have a great time.

Massages, facials, body polishing, reflexology, waxing, pedicures, manicures and make-up applications are all available at Calcot Spa. There are seven treatment rooms. Amongst hotels Cotswolds villages remain very popular and, for many, a Spa is an important part of a weekend stay. If you’re booking, the advice is to book spa treatments and sessions early because Cotswolds Finest Hotels are very often as much loved and used by locals as by guests. The combination of Spa treatments, Cotswolds clean air and open spaces and the new emphasis on healthy and organic menus is a powerful one and keeps Spa lovers coming back to the area.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Cotswolds Luxury Hotels and the National Garden Scheme

One welcome development in recent years has been the growth in National Garden scheme properties opening up in the Cotswolds. The scheme sees private gardens opening up for locals and visitors and has proved very popular with guests at Cotswolds Luxury Hotels. It's a chance to see a ‘real’ garden, chat to the proud owner and pick up a few ideas and hints.

Cotswolds Luxury Hotels and NGS Group Openings

 Barnsley HouseHighlights for 2017 include the nicely named Awkward Hill Cottage, near Bibury, Barnsley House garden (which also happens to be one of the hotels in our collection of Cotswolds Luxury Hotels) and Beverston Castle , which is a romantic ruin near Tetbury, nearby Berkeley Castle also participates. We also like Eastleach House near Cirencester and the Arts and Crafts Garden at Cotswold Farm, also near Cirencester.

National Garden SchemeA few gardens are opening for the first time in 2017. Guests at The Dial House can pop over to nearby Greenfields. Downton House garden is near The Painswick Hotel and Brocklehurst is a romantic Garden at Hawling near Cheltenham. Incidentally if you’re bringing your dog to one of our Cotswolds Luxury Hotels, many National Garden Scheme gardens welcome dogs look for the logo in the brochure.

NGS gardens are great fun and you’ll often find tea on offer and a few plants for sale.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Cotswolds Country hotels for outdoor attractions

There are a surprising number of great outdoor attractions in the Cotswolds - there is so much to do for guests in Cotswolds Country Hotels. Not surprisingly, many of them focus on farming and wildlife.

More outdoor attractions from Cotswolds Country Hotels

Cotswold Farm ParkPerhaps the best known outdoor attraction these days is the Cotswold Farm Park which is farmed by the BBC Countryfile presenter, Adam Henson. It has always been a hot spot for families with toddlers but these days attractions a much wider age group, including lots of ‘Adam’ fans.

Cotswolds Country Hotels reach across the region - to the Oxfordshire Cotswolds where the Wildlife Park offers the surreal sight of white rhinos on a Cotswold lawn, amongst many other animals - and soem superb gardens. A great day out.
Hotels in the CotswoldsFurther south there’s Cattle Country, which might sound like a Wild West movie, but in fact turns out to be a large adventure park that is a real hit with families. A newer venture which provides an activity not usually associated with Cotswolds Country Hotels is 417 Bike Park on Crickley Hill, near Cheltenham. Basically a mountain biking haven, it is giving second thoughts to anyone who thinks of the Cotswolds as all abut historic gardens and afternoon tea.
In the South Cotswolds, visitors are also often surprised by by the Cotswolds Water Park, where over 40 square miles of lakes offer everything from waterskiing to zipwires.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Gardeners Hotels in the Cotswolds

Gardens in the Cotswolds are a delight especially through the Spring to Autumn main season and it’s true that with some Hotels in the Cotswolds a garden break begins even before you leave your accommodation thanks to some impressive settings. Leading the pack is Barnsley House, which was the home of Rosemary Verey, the celebrated garden designer. The gardens are maintained and are the most beautiful amongst Hotels in the Cotswolds.

Hotels in the CotswoldsThere are honourable mentions too for Charingworth Manor, on it’s hilltop location and Cotswold House which has drawn inspiration from the amazing gardens (such as Hidcote and Kiftsgate) nearby to create a unique hotel garden in a village centre setting. The Manor House in Moreton in Marsh in a surprise garden, step into the hotel from the busy High Street to discover a surprisingly quiet garden at the rear. It’s a lovely space and in demand for weddings. Lords of the Manor has just planted a new herb garden, a nice addition to the classic walled garden at the rear of this most idyllic of Hotels in the Cotswolds. Meanwhile, a stay at Thyme gives the feel of living in an entire Cotswold village, with the walk to the church by the river Leach a haven for wildflowers.
The view from your hotel is also a key part of the pleasure. At Lords of the Manor you can look out over a private 8 acre Cotswold garden, complete with meadow, lake and island. Barnsley House has the distinct advantage of its Rosemary Verey designed garden, unique amongst Cotswold hotels. Step out of the Dial House and you are immediately amongst the hustle and bustle of the Cotswolds’ busiest village. 

Gardens near Hotels in the Cotswolds

The visitor season for Cotswolds gardens really runs from Easter to October, although two arboreta (Westonbirt and Batsford) are certainly worth visiting on any day of the year. Hotels in the Cotswolds benefit from perhaps 20 nationally important gardens within the Cotswolds area.

Hotels in the CotswoldsHidcote Manor is the National Trust flagship, a sequence of ‘rooms’ that draws visitors from the around the world. Kiftsgate Court offers one of the most spectacular sights in any garden, the Kiftsgate rose which grows 25m high up into a nearby tree. Bourton House Garden is popular, featuring herbaceous borders and topiary. Sudeley Castle holds a popular June Rose Week and Painswick Rococo is literally a ‘must see’ if you want to experience a Rococo period garden: it's the only one in the country. Further south in the area, Hotels in the Cotswolds have being relishing the chance to introduce guests to Prince Charles’ Highgrove Garden near Tetbury. It’s become easier to get a ticket recently but you’ll still need to book. The Hare and Hounds hotel offers packages.

We need to make special mention of Autumn in Cotswolds. The Beech tree is the Cotswold tree, often lining the roads and lanes leading to Hotels in the Cotswolds and producing the most fantastic display of copper colours every Autumn.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Cotswold hotels - the weird and the wonderful.

Cotswold hotels come in various shapes and sizes - one of the joys of a visit here is that standardisation is not an issue.  For example, at Three Ways House hotel, you can stay in a Chocolate Suite, a room dedicated to the subject. chocolate. At Russell’s in Broadway you can sleep surrounded by Gordon Russell furniture and at The Manor House in Moreton in Marsh, options include Apple Cottage, a self-contained retreat for two people complete with its own garden and a hot tub.

Debate continues over which is the quirkiest bedroom amongst Cotswold hotels - at The Painswick you can bathe whilst overlooking an entire Cotswold Valley. The funky bedrooms at Foxhill Manor have been used by members of Take That and Lady Gaga (not at the same time) and if you simply prefer a bit of heritage to provide atmosphere where you sleep, it’s hard to beat The Old Bell at Malmesbury, Britain’s oldest purpose built hotel. 
Cotswolds hotelsThe view from your hotel is also a key part of the pleasure. At Lords of the Manor you can look out over a private 8 acre Cotswold garden, complete with meadow, lake and island. Barnsley House has the distinct advantage of its Rosemary Verey designed garden, unique amongst Cotswold hotels. Step out of the Dial House and you are immediately amongst the hustle and bustle of the Cotswolds’ busiest village. 

Entertainment at Cotswold hotels

The variety on offer isn’t limited to nice bedrooms, the best Cotswold hotels are usually at the centre of village life and often have quirky bars and restaurants to add a little extra to a stay. 

At The Feathers in Woodstock you’ll find the first bar to get into the Guinness Book of Records for the greatest number of gins available on the planet. Today, there are over 400 available, with Gin Experience menus to help you find your way around. 

Cotswolds hotelsThe Pudding Club is based at the Three Ways House hotel in Mickleton. Regular meetings, where puddings are celebrated, are open to all. Foxhill  Manor or Dormy House can arrange a Segway Safari for you, Russell’s in Broadway happens to also run a very fine fish and chip restaurant whilst the team at Lords of the Manor are always happy to show you the ancient wine cellars. Cotswold hotels don’t come much more ‘Cotswold’
than the Swan at Bibury, with its views over Rack Island to Arlington Row, one of the most photographed places in England.  Thyme, a gem of property in Southrop offers an in-house CookerySchool.  A stay in one of these Cotswold hotels offers a little more. 

Cotswold hotels can be hard to leave, but relax. You could always plan your return visit to a Cotswolds Finest hotel on your way home.