Having spent a weekend in the Cotswolds last week, we truly fell in love with the sweeping countryside and honey-coloured cottages, local seasonal produce and the abundance of quaint villages and market towns to explore. Being only 2 hours from London, and covering five counties, there really is so much to explore and your trip to the Cotswolds will leave you wanting to come back for more.
The drive to the Cotswolds takes you through many market towns from Stow-on-the-Wold to Kingham and Blockley; you’ll want to stop at all of them. We checked into Woolmarket House in Chipping Campden on Friday evening; a recently converted townhouse now hosts four beautifully designed rooms each inspired from various historical locations in the area. The place has been redeveloped to preserve the original features of the building (some over 300 years old) whilst creating a more contemporary feel with designer fabrics, extra large beds with plush bedding and treasured antiques.
Our room named the Kiftsgate overlooked the National Trust historic Woolmarket building and featured a freestanding roll-top bath, modern bathroom with eco-friendly toiletries from Bramley, inspired by the British countryside, and delicious in-room treats of local goodies baked by the nearby bakery, Huffkins.
The owners of Woolmarket House; Sarah and Michael, also own the Mediterranean restaurant in the same building on the ground floor. meaning you can literally crawl into bed after dinner. As the number one restaurant on Trip Advisor we had to give it a go and it didn’t disappoint. Inspired by Michale’s Cypriot heritage it was also great to try something different for a change; the ‘Mezedakia’, a selection of hot & cold Greek hors d’oeuvres to share followed by a platter of charcoal-grilled meats, served with beef stifado and a Greek salad .We finished the night with a Cypriot liqueur flavoured with a blend of sun-ripened orange and aromatic herbs called Filfar.
Breakfast at Woolmarket House is intimate and personal. You decide your food of choice the evening before and the time you fancy eating so it works around your plans. The breakfast room is calming and relaxed, lined with grey walls and exposed brick. Classical music plays from a Roberts revival radio and the table is beautifully set with Anthropologie cups and antique glasses. Homemade granola, local berries and yoghurt sit on a dresser for you to help yourself. Just perfect.
We headed out on Saturday morning for a walk around Chipping Campden. First stop, Fillet & Bone; an independent food emporium serving the finest quality, locally grown produce. Having seen it won the guild of food 2018 shop of the year and being keen foodies, we wanted to see what all the hype was about. Clearly a winner with the locals, it was the perfect go-to if you were preparing a dinner party or stocking up for the weekend. Although a tiny store, it’s packed full to the brim; from rare-breed meat, artisan cheeses, to plenty of savoury goodies, (I think there were over ten different types of homemade scotch eggs!) and amazing deli goods.
Honey-coloured Cotswold stone
After exploring Chipping Campden we headed to Daylesford Organic in Kingham, a popular spot following the opening of Soho Farmhouse. I’m not sure you’ll find a more beautifully styled shop/restaurant/workshop space/cafe/garden/yoga studio – you name it, they have it. You’re greeted with mouth-watering produce: bright pumpkins and gourds line the entrance and shiny, colourful vegetables are stacked in baskets up the walls on ladders, all from their market garden. Before you’ve entered, you already want to buy it all. The shop is nicely segmented, with a creamery, a wine cave, pretty shelves stocking Daylesford organic own produce, an interiors and homeware floor, all centred around a beautiful floristry workshop. When we were there, a group were doing a flower arranging course; such a lovely thing to do on a Saturday morning.
The design of Daylesford is like a traditional farm shop: well-groomed hedges, golden stone buildings and pristine white walls. After a long stroll around, we grabbed a coffee and sat outside next to the fire pit in the bright autumn sunshine. If you love food and styling, it’s certainly worth a visit; lots of lovely design ideas, and the courses available to partake in are so unusual with plenty of seasonal workshops. In addition, if you plan ahead, you can stay onsite in one of the converted farmhouses and wake up overlooking the countryside.
Coffee by the firepit
Next we headed to the Hidcote gardens, stopping several times along the way in unexpected market towns which we couldn’t resist. We wondered around Moreton-in-Marsh, another quaint town with elegant eighteenth-century inns and houses. Passing through Ebrington, we parked up at the Ebrington Arms; with the sun shining it was a good stop for a drink in the sunshine and a quick bite to eat.
I always find National Trust gardens so inspiring, offering lots of variety, different concepts and plenty of inspiration for both your garden and home. Hidcote garden is divided into a series of ‘outdoor rooms’, each with their own character. We loved the kitchen garden lined with seasonal produce which are served in the cafe and greenhouses that help to supply the rest of the garden with plants and flowers. With our own allotment back in Henley, it’s useful to see what works best from professional growers to help us create the perfect environment for our veggies and plants.
After exploring all day, a good soak in the roll-top bath back at Woolmarket House was just what was needed. I can’t recommend Woolmarket House enough. Sarah, the host made us feel so welcome and, coupled with beautiful interiors, it really felt like a home away from home. Before dinner, we sampled a few drinks in some of the pubs in Chipping Campden before dinner at Huxleys. Set in a 500 year old building, the roaring fire and twinkly tea lights set the ambience. The service was exceptional – a lovely guy (I’ve forgotten his name) made the experience one to remember; a friendly welcome and complimentary wine set the evening off in good stead followed by some authentic Italian dishes.
A lie-in was due on Sunday and after checking out we continued exploring the area, stopping at the farm park to ‘pick your own’ potatoes and Stow-on-the-Wold.
The Cotswolds offers so much variety and a place where you really can switch off and get away from it all. With so much to explore we can’t wait to plan our next trip back very soon.