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Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Cotswolds Travel Guide - Best Cotswolds Villages And Things To Do In The Cotswolds

missguided white shirred polka dress

Ad affiliate throughout / some Ad PR trips - Polka dot dress / Knee high boots and here and here / blue sunglasses 

Today it's finally time for me to talk to you about some of my favourite and best places to visit in the Cotswolds, including of course, my favourite places to eat in the Cotswolds. Half of me feels that this year has dragged because of the situation with Covid and our lack of being able to live our lives in the way we are used to and then half of me thinks I can’t really believe that it’s nearly... yes dare I say it - the festive season - how has time gone so quickly while at the same time feeling like a drag? It's been a weird year. 

Insofar as travel is concerned, yes I’ve been sad that I haven’t been abroad but that has been my choice and for those who have chosen to travel abroad I’m happy for them and I understand them (plus, I am jealous haha). I don’t know whether I am helping but you’ve got to do what you think is best in the absence of any real concrete information, I'm also still hoping I feel safe enough to go away at some point this year but let's see, for now, it's UK staycations. Remaining in the UK for a year or so is not all that bad, we are blessed to be able to do so. When my brother and I were children, my mum deliberately avoided taking us abroad during our formative years because she wanted us to appreciate the country we live in before venturing further. We spent so many great holidays in Great Britain, south, north, east and west and I saw the most amazing coast lines and countryside, I've always really appreciated the UK. 

Most of our holidays were close to the seaside because, just like all kids, we loved the beach and sea (and still do). We visited the countryside a lot (every weekend, plus I grew up in the countryside so I really am. country girl). There are plenty of easy to get to places near my Yorkshire family home and my family home is in the countryside so I didn’t really go for any long stays in non-coastal parts of the UK - we always escaped to the beach. Therefore, when I first visited the Cotswolds it was strange to stay somewhere so beautiful but with no seaside. I aim to do more staycations in parts of the UK that are countryside based because from the moment I first visited the Cotswolds around 5 years ago I realised why so many people love it and tell me to visit. I’ve stayed many now (and many more to come!) and thought it would be great to share a bit of a guide to the best places in the Cotswolds that I’ve explored in case you would like to go too. 
red polka dress

Dress / taken at Thyme 

Please note, this guide to the best of the Cotswolds is not exhaustive by any means. There are many, many more places to visit and as I do I promise I will update it so get this bookmarked as a guide to the Cotswolds! My biggest piece of advice is take a car so you can drive to all the different places! 

This time around we stayed in Moreton in Marsh which is a small market town set in the North of the Cotswolds (by the way, most of the places in the Cotswolds are very easy to travel between in a car and you can easily cover several of them in one day, you don't need too long in each place, a few hours I would say). It’s a pretty place with a Main Street running through it with several really cute shops, cafes and pubs. The market takes place every Tuesday and has hundreds of great stalls with food (yum) and it’s a place where local businesses come together to share their produce and products. I would say Moreton in Marsh has a fair few shops and places to eat for a Cotswolds village, it's more of a teeny town than a village. We stayed in a gorgeous house booked via Sykes last year (Ad Pr) and it was phenomenal in every way, I'd love to stay there again. 

lower slaughter

While we were there we visited Upper and Lower Slaughter which are in walking distance of one an other and are hands down the prettiest little UK places. Think 'The Holiday' and this is what every single cottage in these places looks like. The countryside is soft and there is a river (the River Eye) that runs through both although in keeping with these being quaint places, the river is more like a stream. There are some lovely little cafes and a gorgeous hotel called Lords Of The Manor that you can visit to eat as a non-resident which has beautiful gardens, I would definitely recommend sitting outside here for some food. It's my dream to actually be able to get an afternoon tea reservation here! Try get a reservation at Slaughters too, a famous hotel! 

Bourton on the Water is another really pretty place to visit and is close by too, we actually drove to Upper and Lower and then drove over to Bourton - my best advice is just Google map the route and see what fits in when! It’s a really quaint place to walk and enjoy some lovely cafes, tearooms, pubs and local shops. As you would expect, as this is called Bourton on the Water, a river (the River Windrush) meanders through it and it has such pretty bridges, houses and scenery. Don’t miss it if you go, it's very busy but it is gorgeous and lots of cute little spots for cake and coffee. 

Near here you also have Broadway, it reminds me of Moreton In Marsh, another quite 'larger' Cotswolds village with a long high street full of shops and restaurants.

cotswolds guide

On the first day of our staycay we had a grazing buffet of food delivered to the house where we were staying as we wanted to support a local business and enjoy the house we had rented - it was so huge that we used the left overs to pack up a picnic the next day. We took our glorious little feast to Stow on the Wold which again was very close to Moreton. We sat on a green in the middle of the Main Street enjoying our food. The photo at the top with my gorgeous puppy Maple was actually taken in Stow on The Wold. It was probably a good job we did take a picnic because the pretty little area which centres on a Main Street with an abundance of cafes, tea rooms and shops was absolutely bustling with people and we would have struggled to get in to a place to eat here. Although I wasn’t here on the Thursday of that week, I understand that there is a lovely market there on the second Thursday of each month. I'd say Stow on the Wold is one of the busier high streets in the Cotswolds and there are SO many pubs and restaurants. 

The Cotswolds is a great place to walk, eat and see beautiful scenery and for dinner on our last stay we booked in to pubs where the standard of food is really good. It was fortunate that we had the Cotswolds booked as a surprise family holiday which we presented to my family last Christmas as my grandparents cannot travel abroad anymore. At that time I didn’t know we would have a family dog by the time we went and if you follow my channels you will know that we are now the proud owners of Maple a Golden Doodle, another amazing thing about the Cotswolds is just how dog friendly it is so on a night when we ate at the pubs it was so easy with her as the majority of places in the Cotswolds do allow dogs. 

The best thing about The Cotswolds is you can stay in a gorgeous mansion, cottage or hotel and choose to just enjoy the luxurious properties by day, or you can go for long hikes, eat at luxurious restaurants or just have a cute little picnic - or, like us, do a mix of them all! 

We ate at Chipping Norton at the Kings Head Inn - a lovely pub Matt and I went to for my birthday too as apparently it's one of Will and Kate's favourites and I love the royals! Their burgers are insane!  Chipping Norton is a great base if you like long walks. 

We also ate at Kingham at the Kingham Plough - maybe I'd try it for a Sunday roast next time. Kingham again is a really pretty place, a very small area with beautiful cottages and just a short drive from Chipping Norton. I’ve eaten at the Wild Rabbit at Kingham on a different occasions too which is a Michelin acclaimed pub and I can highly recommend, it's owned by Daylesford (another favourite Cotswolds venue) and the food is such good quality. 

Daylesford cotswolds

Of course as many of you will know, I love eating at Daylesford and while I was on this trip I visited twice. Drive to Daylesford farmshop and just soak up the original Daylesford farm. Daylesford as a place is a small privately owned village a couple of miles from Chipping Norton. Again it is set in the most beautiful countryside and the main attraction is the organic farm shop and restaurant. They are fabulous and I never miss an opportunity to go here when I visit the Cotswolds. The food they sell is wholesome and delicious and there is a lovely plant shop and house shop their too, please don’t miss the opportunity to go if you get a chance. Head there for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner - or even a coffee and a cake and ensure you check out their stunning spa too. The Bamford spa on site is divine. Don't forget to fill up your bags with fresh bread, cookies and all the Daylesford snacks from their farmshop. PS. You can stay at Daylesford too, they have the most amazing houses on site to stay at (I am dreaming of the day I can sty at one) and they also have The Wild Rabbit hotel in Kingham down the road, a gorgeous boutique hotel and I have stayed there before too and would stay there again in a heartbeat. 

cotswold house
Moreton in Marsh 

Slightly further afield from where we were staying (but still within easy reach) we visited Cirencester. Again this is a market town and certainly seemed larger than the other places we visited. In fact, it felt like a small city as it had so many shops and restaurants and a huge market square. We were lucky enough to go when the market was on and I have to say, the stalls were quality with some lovely local merchandise. Out of all the places I’ve been to in the Cotswolds Cirencester was my least favourite because it felt more towny but don’t let that put you off visiting because there is lots to see and do there. 

Castle Combe too is worth travelling to with such beautiful streets, gorgeous cottages and beautiful countryside. Many famous films have featured Castle Combe such as Dr Doolittle and War Horse and it’s easy to understand why when you visit here. It's very famous! 

I've also stayed in Painswick twice, at the Painswick hotel which is hands down one of my favourite hotels in the world, it's so special and feels so friendly and comfortable but is luxurious too. If you can't stay at The Painswick, head there for a dinner and enjoy their restaurant, at Christmas time we had one of the best meals ever and I simply cannot stop thinking about their sprouts, seriously - their head chef is incredible. Painswick in itself is a teeny little village in Stroud but lovely for a morning walk. 

I also stayed at Thyme in The Cotswolds and would love to go back, the grounds are utterly stunning, with cute little cottage style houses all around and the Main Street has so many equally cute cottages. Thyme is basically like it's own little village, with a farm and you can hire out the huge house or a hotel room. I would love to go back even just for the bath alone. 

Matt booked me a lovely little boutique hotel in an area called Burford once, a nice little village with shops and restaurants if you're looking for somewhere quaint. 
the fish hotel cotswolds

If you fancy going further afield, there's Cirencester, a much bigger area. I recently stayed (ad pr) at the Devere Cotswold Waterpark, if you can get one of the luxurious rooms with a balcony overlooking the water, you'll feel like you're in heaven, with floor to ceiling views of the beautiful lake. This is a beautiful spot if you're taking a car and looking for adventures every day that you can drive to... or if you want to just enjoy the room / spa / lake and not leave! It's a huge hotel with a huge lake to walk around every morning. The staff were so lovely at dinner in the Old Boathouse (those chunky chips are to die for) - some of the best service we had during our trip and it's dog friendly too which is very rare from a hotel chain. I highly recommend walking down past the Old Boathouse and grabbing a pizza from 720 degree pizza by the lake too, it's a perfect sunset spot... they also have an outdoor cinema too! This is a really good one for the whole family. 

I feel wherever you go in the Cotswolds you will be surrounded by breath taking beauty both in terms of the gorgeous houses and beautiful countryside. It’s hard to go wrong because wherever you are staying you will always only be a stone's throw away from so many other beautiful places and the people are so welcoming of both humans and animals. On the downside, the Cotswolds are very popular so plan your visits well - you may have to wait for parking spaces and roads can be a little hectic was everyone is now doing UK staycations but honestly, it’s well worth it. Get up early, take in the fresh air, pack a picnic and book into some lovely dinner places.

I’ve only just scratched the surface of somewhere I want to spend so much more time and perhaps even live in the future and I will definitely update this guide as I explore this area more.  

So to conclude, my absolute favourite things in the Cotswolds? The Painswick as a hotel, Sykes Cottages houses to hire for the whole family, The Wild Rabbit for dinner, Daylesford Farm for a walk/dinner/breakfast/coffee/everything!!! Put some trainers on and enjoy a lovely few days, honestly for me, I just want to enjoy soaking up the bubbles in a roll top bath, go for a lovely long walk and then find a cute farmshop en route and have a picnic - the options are endless! 

Lots of love, Em x

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This website uses Ad affiliate links, this doesn't cost you anything extra but means I may sometimes make a small % per sale.


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