Cotswolds Travel Guide
Our luxury experts have compiled a guide to some of the best places to visit in The Cotswolds during your luxury cottage holiday
The Cotswolds is world-renowned for its beautiful luxury cottages and manor houses. It also has a thriving gastronomic scene with numerous pubs and restaurants catering for any need. Explore ancient villages full of honey-coloured thatched cottages, ramble through the open countryside or indulge in spa breaks and excellent food. With plenty of things to do and places to visit, the Cotswolds will keep you coming back time and time again.
Places to Visit in the Cotswolds
Broadway is one of our favourite places to visit in the Cotswolds with a bustling village high street, packed full of artisan shops, bakeries and delis making it a superb place to stock up for your self-catering cottage holiday. There are also an abundance of high quality restaurants which attract custom from throughout the local area. Historic, quaint and surrounded by the beauty of the Worcestershire Hills, Broadway is perfect for those looking to be out in the countryside but with all the amenities of a small town. There are plenty of walks in and around Broadway and we guarantee that your dog will love exploring the countryside with you.
"Broadway is one of our favourite places to visit in the Cotswolds with a bustling village high street, packed full of artisan shops, bakeries and delis making it a superb place to stock up for your self-catering cottage holiday."
No trip to Broadway would be complete without a visit to the iconic Broadway Tower & Park where you can hire bikes and explore this fascinating piece of English heritage set within 50 acres of parkland. Tickets include entry to the Tower Museum and the Deer Park. If all that walking, cycling and fresh air has worn you out, you can book a relaxing treatment at Dormy House, a historic luxury farmhouse with restaurant and spa. Dining highlights in Broadway are plentiful and we particularly like the Broadway Deli for picnic supplies and Russell’s of Broadway for modern British cuisine.
Chipping Campden is about as close as you can get to the stereotype of a Cotswold market town. Its long, terraced high street is lined with ancient limestone houses separated by sprawling backstreets and the buildings are all made of honey-coloured Cotswolds stone. The town was established as far back as the 7th century and grew into prominence as a rich wool trading centre in the Middle Ages. The high street boasts hallmarks of this wealth including landmarks like Campden Market Hall and The Kings Hotel which has a fantastic bar and restaurant. There is also a small museum that provides some insight into Chipping Campden’s rich association with the Arts & Crafts movement.
"Chipping Campden is about as close as you can get to the stereotype of a Cotswold market town. Its long, terraced high street is lined with ancient limestone houses separated by sprawling backstreets and the buildings are all made of honey-coloured Cotswolds stone."
Chipping Campden also has plenty of places to unwind, including Cotswold House, which has a fantastic spa and Hidcote Manor Gardens, one of the finest examples of an Arts & Crafts-inspired garden in The Cotswolds. For those that are prepared to venture further out of town the pretty village of Ebrington is a 2 mile walk away. Don’t miss out on a visit to The Ebrington Arms, a haven for foodies which has been named the UK’s number 1 pub by the Times. Slightly further afield you can find the Churchill Arms in Paxford, an award-winning Gastropub with a crackling log fire.
Kingham is a tranquil and secluded village, yet on its outskirts is a train station with a main line service to London that takes just 1 hour 30 minutes. Voted by Country Life to be ‘England’s Favourite Village’ in 2006, Kingham is one of the most popular places to visit in the Cotswolds. Set in the Evenlode Valley in Oxfordshire, with village greens and elegant 17th and 18th century cottages, it is picture-perfect. It’s a great place for a walk or a bike ride, and each summer the Big Feastival, that celebrates cuisine, music and dance, is held at the local farm of Blur’s band member and bassist, Alex James.
"Voted by Country Life to be 'England's Favourite Village' in 2006, Kingham is one of the most popular places to visit in the Cotswolds."
Whilst the village shop offers many essentials, do also shop for supplies at Daylesford Organic Farm Shop where the produce is first-class. However, Kingham has two highly-rated pubs. The Kingham Plough and The Wild Rabbit both offer spectacular food made from fresh local produce. Just outside Kingham is the sleepy village of Bledington, where you can dine at The Kings Head next to a picturesque village green. On the other side of Kingham is the village of Churchill, where you’ll find The Chequers, a fantastic Gastro-pub which serves up an absolute feast.
Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the most well-known small towns in The Cotswolds, right at the heart of the region and surrounded by beautiful English countryside. An important trading point throughout history, it is located at a crossroads on the Roman Fosse Way and later was a major sheep-trading hub during the peak of the wool industry. Its large market square is a reflection of the town’s importance. Today, the square is edged by honey-coloured townhouses, elegant shops, cafes and restaurants, whilst Stow-on-the-Wold also draws people who like to hunt for treasures in the antiques centres here.
"Daylesford produce 100% organic produce which they supply locally, as well as to their restaurant The Wild Rabbit."
Sights to see include St Edwards church, the ramparts of an Iron Age fort near Well Lane and the popular monthly farmers’ market. We also recommend Daylesford Farm, between Stow-on-the-Wold and Kingham, for fresh produce if you fancy cooking back at your cottage. Owned by Lord and Lady Bamford the estate includes a cooking school and spa as well as The Wild Rabbit in Kingham. Back in Stow, visit Britain’s oldest pub, The Porch House, or for classic British cuisine with a twist try The Old Stocks Inn or The Old Butchers, a renovated butcher’s shop. For fine dining a drive to Atrium at Lords of the Manor Hotel is a must.
Bourton-on-the-Water has been referred to as ‘the Venice of The Cotswolds’ and it’s easy to see why: the trickling River Windrush and its low level bridges are an enchanting scene. The village is one of the most charming and most visited in the area, so you can be sure of plenty of cafes, tea shops and restaurants to delve into when you’re peckish. Plus, there is a great array of one-off shops including handcrafted jewellers, pottery studios and the Cotswold Perfumery that has created bespoke scents for Her Majesty The Queen. It’s a pleasant place to stay or easily while away a few hours.
"Bourton-on-the-Water has been referred to as ‘the Venice of The Cotswolds’."
There is lots to see and do for everyone if you base your luxury cottage holiday near Bourton-on-the-Water. Visit The Model Village, Cotswold Motoring Museum, Birdland Park and Gardens, or The Dragonfly Maze to start with. Drive to the famous gardens nearby at Hidcote Manor, Bourton House or Batsford Arboretum, or take a countryside walk at Salmonsbury Meadows nature reserve. If you visit Bourton-on-the-Water on the August Bank Holiday there’s a longstanding tradition when the local football team plays a match in the shallows of the river, whilst the Christmas tree placed in the river during the festive season is pure magic.
Cheltenham is a fine, English Regency town with origins based in the discovery of healing spa waters in 1717 that drew royal visitors, writers and politicians from all across the land. Today it brims with exceptional architecture along The Promenade, culture and a cosmopolitan vibe. As such it is a fantastic place for a gourmet adventure across a plethora of excellent restaurants. Home to the Gold Cup, Cheltenham has a strong horse racing heritage and during race season, it’s a popular place for groups of friends to book a holiday cottage, visit the races and indulge in the finer things in life.
"Cheltenham is a fine, English Regency town with origins based in the discovery of healing spa waters in 1717 that drew royal visitors, writers and politicians from all across the land."
As well as independent and boutique shops, Cheltenham has lovely green spaces including the Grade 2-listed Pittville Park which features an historic Pump Room and lakes. There is also an extensive programme of events and festivals including a jazz festival, hot-air balloon festival and a beer festival. Cheltenham is a foodie paradise and currently home to The Cotswolds’ only Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Champingnon Sauvage. If you’d like to get hands on, why not book a place at the cookery school at Eckington Manor nearby?
The city of Bath is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its spa history that dates back to Roman times and its fine Georgian architecture. As the largest city in Somerset, you’ll find everything you could possibly need here during your luxury cottage holiday. There are lots of museums and art galleries, shops from department stores to independent labels, restaurants, bars and theatres, all against a very elegant city backdrop indeed. However, the good news is that it’s compact and very walkable. There’s also a programme of exciting events including The Bath Festival of Music that takes place in May and the annual Christmas market.
"The city of Bath is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its spa history that dates back to Roman times and its fine Georgian architecture."
Taking in some of Bath’s impeccable architecture is a must. Start with the iconic row of townhouses on the Royal Crescent that overlooks the Royal Victoria Park. Fine dining can be enjoyed at the Dower House Restaurant at number 16 too. Do also see Pulteney Bridge which is one of a few bridges worldwide that is lined with shops, and the medieval Bath Abbey. Take a tour of the hot springs at the Roman Baths then head to the modern Thermae Bath Spa for a spa treatment and a dip in the impressive open-air rooftop swimming pool. Accompanied by fabulous city views.
Bibury is a seemingly quiet Cotswolds village, once described by William Morris, the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement who lived in The Cotswolds, as ‘the most beautiful village in The Cotswolds’. However, on a summer’s day it can become very busy with visitors, so get here early. Set along the River Coln, Bibury comprises a charming village square, Arlington Row’s delightful and much-photographed group of historic cottages and St Mary’s Saxon church. Several places offer food and drink, but if the weather is good, this is a lovely picnic spot. And, Bibury is just a short drive from Burford and Cirencester.
"Bibury is a seemingly quiet Cotswolds village, once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in The Cotswolds'."
Arlington Row, owned by the National Trust, started out life in the 14th century as a monastic wool store, then was converted to weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. With the River Coln and a water meadow called Rack Isle in the scene too, picturesque is an understatement. It’s also worth popping into St Mary’s church to admire the medieval windows and Saxon and Norman carvings. When it comes to dining, Bibury Trout Farm and Restaurant is a great choice as you can actually catch your own supper here, whilst the riverside Swan Hotel is a former coaching inn serving superb traditional cuisine.