Planning an escape to the Cotswolds? Here is our pick of the best luxury hotels for the perfect short winter break
The much-anticipated Oxfordshire outpost of the A-list Soho haunt, which opened this autumn, is fast winning the kind of rave reviews hoteliers can normally only dream about. Set in 93 acres in Oxfordshire countryside, on the edge of the village of Great Tew, guests can forget all about where they’ve left their car keys because everyone gets around by bike, and accommodation is a choice of 40 one-, two- and three-bedroom waterside log cabins, and seven bedrooms in the farmhouse itself. From the “Director of horses and firewood”, who looks after all the horses at Soho house and sources the firewood for Babington and the farm, to the amazing, inspiring deli, Soho Farmhouse is quirky, unique and utterly fabulous. A Japanese restaurant and ice-skating rink looks set to complete the Nick Jones vision in the near future.
This rather lovely country house hotel and spa has understated luxury down to a fine art, with chic contemporary rooms and bucolic Cotswolds views. The Spa is pretty blissful too – make sure you try the Cloud Nine treatment, a mix of aromatherapy massage, reflexology and acupressure using Green & Spring products (some of which contain herbs picked from the hotel grounds). And if all that’s missing is a spot of retail therapy, fear not – Hambledon at Cowley Manor is an edited mini version of the much-loved Hambledon shop in Winchester, selling everything from womenswear and menswear to beautiful homeware.
Recently voted Hotel of the Year 2015 by the Sunday Times, this Grade-II listed Arts and Crafts private house hotel in the Cotswolds has eight unique bedrooms and suites, each given the 21st-century luxury treatment. As well as your room, the rate covers a full breakfast, snacks and drinks throughout the day, and a host of other little surprises. It also includes a shuttle service to the picture-postcard pretty village of Broadway, and its older sister Dormy House, where you have use of the spa. Foxhill Manor’s USP is that it has all the character of a boutique-hotel hideaway but with an “easygoing at-home atmosphere”. Believe us when we say it works.
Big sister hotel of Foxhill Manor, Dormy House, which is housed in a former 17th-century farmhouse, has been owned by the same family for 35 years. With a chic spa – try the bespoke treatment using locally sourced lavender – as well as iPads in each of the bedrooms, the emphasis is on checking in and chilling out. Bedrooms at this peaceful rural bolthole range from ‘Intimate’ to the appropriately named ‘Top Notch’. Enough said.
Relaunched last month simply as Thyme, the stylish rooms, cottages and houses at Thyme in Southrop (there is also a cookery school) are the perfect place if you hanker a quiet get-away-from-it-all weekend in the country (and who doesn’t?). For a special occasion, you can take exclusive use of Thyme House or the whole estate. Not to be missed: kicking back in the three woolly sheep seats in the funky new club-like space dubbed, rather fittingly, The Baa. And that is why we love the Cotswolds.
Describing itself as a “reinvention of the traditional English inn”, the stylish Wild Rabbit in Kingham, which was opened by Lady Bamford, mixes cool pared-down style with all the creature comforts you need for a really great stay: deep, super-soft sumptuous mattresses, linen sheets and bathrooms that gladden the heart. Four of the rooms have access to the garden and dog beds are available on request – always the sign of good hotel.
Calcot Manor and Spa
Indoor pool, hot tub, log fires, multiple treatments rooms – it would impossible to leave the 35-bedroom Calcot Manor without feeling blissed out by the end of your stay. It’s set within 220 acres of meadowland so active guests might want to stretch their legs a bit further and take advantage of the tennis courts, running routes and cycle tracks, and there’s a woodland gymnasium guaranteed to get the heart racing in more ways than one. Good simple food done well – think pumpkin risottos and pork belly dishes – complete the Calcot Manor & Spa experience.
With rooms ranging from luxurious two-storey suites to a private garden retreat with an open fire, Barnsley House has all the hallmarks of a stunning stately home, and some impressive gardens that are worth a day trip in themselves, designed by the famous landscape designer, Rosemary Verey. There’s also a lovely tucked-away spa where you can retreat from the world and indulge yourself with spa treatments, aromatherapy, as well as an outside hydrotherapy pool.
Main image: Foxhill Manor
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