Monday, 14 August 2017

Dining at luxury Cotswolds hotels

Luxury Cotswolds hotelsLuxury Cotswolds hotels offer some of the best dining rooms in the Cotswolds, embracing the range from Michelin stars to smart pub.

In general, dining rooms have been busy becoming less formal, many dropping the tablecloths and library atmosphere in favour of more simplified local menus with friendly service in a more relaxed atmosphere. These days luxury Cotswolds hotels restaurants represent a fashionable option for diners.

Leading the way, Randall's at the Three Ways in Mickleton is a proper brasserie, in the sense that you will feel as comfortable ordering a soup and roll as you will a four course lunch. Nice open fire too. The John Greville Restaurant at Charingworth Manor offers a great value fixed-price menu, based on a firm 'buy local' policy. Nearby, at Cotswold House Hotel, the Cotswold Grill shows exactly why a luxury Cotswolds hotels restaurant is often a great choice, with doors opening through to a lovely garden, despite the town centre location. Meanwhile at Dormy House Hotel, there are two restaurants (served by the same kitchen) with the Potting Shed a popular local option, next door to the slightly smarter main restaurant.

Russell's of Broadway is first and foremost a restaurant, but offers a few rooms upstairs. In fact it's one of the most charming 'restaurants with rooms' in the country. There's another surprise up the hill at Moreton in Marsh, where you can step through the door at the Manor House to discover the Beagle Brasserie and a huge garden at the back.

More Luxury Cotswolds Hotels

More Luxury Cotswolds Hotels Lords of the Manor at Upper Slaughter has held a Michelin dining star for the last 8 years and is Gloucestershire's only Michelin-starred hotel - the very definition of luxury Cotswolds hotels. From there, it's a short walk to the Bourton on the Water where The Dial House is at the very heart of the village with its two dining rooms overlooking the river.

An amazing collection of over 450 gins in its bar, risks overshadowing the restaurant at The Feathers in Woodstock, near Blenheim Palace, but, in fact, Great British Menu regular Dominic Chapman is at the helm in the kitchen and the restaurant is on great form.

Heading south to the famous village of Bibury, The Swan Brasserie is newly refurbished and always busy, at the heart at this popular, beautiful village. Nearby, the Village Pub in Barnsley is a well-established dining pub, serving classic Cotswold ingredients simply and very well.

Almost over the road (and under the same ownership as the Pub), Barnsley House grows its own vegetables in its Rosemary Verey planned Potager. The house speciality is Vincisgrassi, a very old Italian recipe. There's an Italian influence too at nearby Swan at Southrop, near Lechlade. Despite that, it's the distillation of what a modern Cotswolds pub is all about.

There's a grouping of luxury Cotswolds hotels in and around Tetbury starting with Calcot Manor which has both a fine dining restaurant and the Gumstool Inn, a pub attached to the hotel. The Beaufort Restaurant at The Hare and Hounds, is an esteemed restaurant in beautiful surroundings, near Westonbirt Arboretum. Farthest south in the Cotswolds, The Old Bell is Britain's oldest purpose built hotel, in the shadow of Malmesbury's impressive Abbey. It's an intriguing, ancient building but dining here is informal and pleasure. Great for romantics. Cotswolds Finest's group of luxury Cotswolds hotels is completed with another Michelin-awarded grand country house, the magnificent Manor House at Castle Combe.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Luxury Cotswold Hotels for Beginners

Hotels & Spas in the CotswoldsIf you don’t know The Cotswolds well, here are some ideas to help you choose which amongst luxury Cotswold hotels is right for you. To start with the basics, the Cotswolds is the name given to an area distonguished by limestone and gentle hilly slopes between Bath and Chipping Campden. The name is from old English - Cots = sheep pens, Wolds = hills: Cotswolds.

Also dotted around the edge are Cheltenham and Oxford. Luxury Cotswold hotels are part of the attraction of visiting, there’s a long traditional of romantic weekend breaks and somehow the list of charming Cotswolds stone hotels seem to grow and grow. In fact, that’s why Cotswolds Finest Hotels was formed - the choice was a bit overwhelming.

Luxury Cotswold Hotels - North and South.

If you don’t have a particular hotel or destination in mind, one way is to decide whether north or south Cotswolds is right for you - and it’s not just not a matter of where you travel from. Very broadly speaking, the North Cotswolds is better known, thanks to the fame of its market towns (Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold, Burford and others). The area offers a more ‘commercial’ face of the area, with towns such as Bourton-on-the-Water and Bibury popular with coach groups - of course you can always beat the crowds by staying in these beautiful places.

Luxury Cotswold Hotels and the South Cotswolds

Hotels in the Cotswolds & Spas It’s hard to say where exactly the Cotswolds becomes the south Cotswolds, but Cirencester is a good start. The south part of the Cotswolds is equally agricultural and beautiful, but the villages tend to be lesser-known and there’s a ‘real’ quality to this part of the Cotswold hills. It’s also where you’ll find Highgrove (Prince Charles’ estate) and attractions such as Westonbirt Arboretum and the Cotswolds Water Park.

Stroud Farmers’ Market is a big Saturday morning draw and nearby Nailsworth is a foodie favourite.

There are hundred of luxury Cotswold hotels, villages and hamlets in the Cotswolds and our tip is that it’s best to relax and spend time in a couple of them, rather than try to ‘tick them all off.’ They’re all kind of similar, although each has something unique about it. Very often luxury Cotswold hotels are a key part of village life too, another reason to stay there.

If you’re staying in the south Cotswolds, you’ll have the Georgian City of Bath within range, as well as excursions to Berkeley Castle and Chavanage House which is used in the current Poldark TV series, appearing as the Poldark family home. Castle Combe is one of the most famous villages anywhere in the Cotswolds, tucked away in the far south.

So, if you have enjoyed a stay in the Cotswolds, don’t feel that there’s no reason to come back and stay at another one of our luxury Cotswold hotels - there’s plenty to explore, north or south.

Friday, 30 June 2017

The arts from your Cotswolds luxury hotels base

Hotels & Spas in the CotswoldsCotswolds luxury hotels are a great base for exploring local arts events.

The local list of events is extensive - a kind of Cotswolds ‘Season’. There are some real surprises too.

For example, the North Cotswolds has its very own opera house. Longborough Festival Opera is, in fact one of the UK's finest country opera houses - an intimate 500 seat theatre set amidst the glorious rolling hills of the Cotswolds. Each performance at Longborough is a new production, created especially for the venue - the Producers work with talented designers, directors, conductors and the best up-and-coming artists to bring you something you won't have seen anywhere else.
A visit to Longborough ensures an intimate and unique experience which truly captures the drama and emotion happening on stage. It was once reviewed as ‘like Glyndbourne before the war’. A visit fits nicely with a stay at one of the Cotswolds luxury hotels, in keeping somehow.
The season runs to the start of August with a chance left to see Mozart’s The Magic Flute or Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice.

Dining is an important part of the experience at Longborough Festival Opera. 90 minute dining interval allows time to relax and enjoy the picturesque grounds: you can reserve a space in the on site restaurant or bring a picnic.

Highly recommended - especially as part of a longer stay at one of the cotswolds luxury hotels in the Cotswolds Finest partnership.

Theatre and Cotswolds Luxury Hotels

Hotels in the Cotswolds & Spas Theatre isn’t, perhaps, the first thought when planning a Cotswolds luxury hotels break. But perhaps it should be.

Apart from the fact that Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre is within easy range of much of the Cotswolds, you’ll find a heady mix of local theatres and out-door events on offer. For those in the know, there’s a regular program of musical theatre, comedy and touring productions - including one or two places known locally as secret try out venues for the odd big name.

Chipping Norton Theatre is a theatre, an arthouse cinema, a gallery and a concert hall. Praised by The Guardian for “A programme of distinctive artistic adventure”, the theatre is small but punches well above its weight. Seats 213 people.

Further south, the Sundial Theatre in Cirencester is a 275 seat venue always worth checking out. The likes of Michael McIntyre and Jack Dee have appeared in warm up gigs here.

Giffords Circus tours village green type settings through the summer - a very stylish night out and not to be missed if they’re performing near you during your stay at one of the Cotswolds luxury hotels.

Look out too for Shakespeare performances from Rain or Shine Theatre Company at venues such as Painswick Rococo Garden.

The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham is the house theatre for the area - a delightful Frank Matcham designed venue. Farthest south in the area, Bath’s Theatre Royal, built in 1805 is, famously, haunted and one of the oldest theatres in the country.

Cotswolds luxury hotels are your key to unlock the best of local culture, whether local opera, theatre or cultural events.

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.