Over the last six years, there have been a lot of traditions that Toff and I have adopted, but none more so than over the festive period (you can read about them HERE). As a self-confessed Christmas fanatic, I spend the whole month of December winding down from a busy year and planning lots of fun, cosy activities to celebrate a time of love and relaxation. When I first met Toff, he found Christmas a difficult time of year so I made it my mission to change, starting with a weekend spent in the Cotswolds.
I knew that a couple of days spent in rural countryside with beautiful villages, hearty food and Christmas markets would remind him what a wonderful time of year it really is. And so effective as it was, we’ve made it an annual ritual to hole up somewhere warm and cosy a week
or two before the Christmas madness. Although it’s not worlds away from the country setting we live, there’s something about enjoying your surroundings as a guest rather than a resident that makes you appreciate it all the more. To me, a weekend in the Cotswolds is a home away from home where all the villages look like a scene from The Holiday and the food is the epitome of the farm to table movement.
It’s been a couple of years since we packed up or wellies and spent a weekend in the Cotswolds. After the crazy year we’ve had it only felt right to mark the end of the last 12 months with a little R & R…interspersed with lots of mulled wine. So, here’s what 48 hours in the Cotswolds looked like for us…
WHAT TO DO
The beauty of having a staycation in the Cotswolds is that it’s really geared towards enjoying the simpler things in life (as cheesy as that sounds!) So we never plan anything too much and just let the weather and our mood guide us on a day-to-day basis. We really lucked out this year and were treated to crisp, frosty days with blue skies and glaring sun so we took full advantage by going for lots of long walks.
The Cotswolds is FULL of amazing footpaths everywhere you go and most of the hotels provide walking maps if you ask so you will always find a great route with a few cheeky pub stops along the way. But if the great outdoors isn’t your thing, there are plenty of spots to visit and sightsee. The breathtaking Blenheim Palace is perfect for an afternoon of culture and offers lots of exciting events throughout the year, especially at Christmas where it’s home to the festive markets and light display.
Somewhere we always visit year after year is the beautiful town of Burford. A small little hamlet with one Main Street, it’s full of individual boutiques, one-of-a-kind antique shops, delicatessens, AMAZING vintage fashion outlets and cozy gastro pubs. Whether you walk around the stunning church or simply lust over all of the incredible cottages and manor houses dotted at the top of the hill, it’s a lovely way to spend a day.
If a little celeb spotting is your bag, head to the picturesque village of Filkins and grab a bite to eat at The Five Alls pub where Kate Moss, Rosemary Ferguson and, ahem, David Cameron are often seen propping up the bar. We were at the next table from Gary Barlow when we went and it’s just a really cool spot to hang out after a country walk.
“A staycation in the Cotswolds is geared towards enjoying the simpler things in life…”
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Speaking of eating and drinking, the Cotswolds is home to some of the best comfort food in the country. Yep, I feel comfortable in that bold statement! Sourcing everything locally, you’re guaranteed to find the best cheeses, smoked meats and modern twists on country classics.
As well as The Five Alls, we love all of the pubs in Burford (especially the ever-so-chic Bay Tree Hotel where you can pitch up next to the huge fireplaces and indulge in hot chocolate and homemade Butternut Squash Soup. To be honest, I’ve never had a bad meal, sandwich or flapjack in the Cotswolds! Everything is super fresh and tasty – from the ham hock terrine to the chestnut and mushroom risotto.
WHERE TO STAY
We’ve been incredibly lucky to have stayed at some truly amazing hotels and B&B’s for our weekend in the Cotswolds. While we usually opt for somewhere sleek and modern whenever we go away, it’s quite the opposite when we select our accommodation in Oxfordshire or Gloucestershire as the charm is in a rustic bolthole tucked away in a little village or town.
With roaring fires, low ceilings, sash windows and original features, a traditional pub with adjoining rooms are the hidden gems of a staycation and the best way to shut yourself away from the world and get cosy. From the vaulted ceilings and hydrotherapy baths at The Porch House to an amazing complimentary care package and chic interiors at The Fuzzy Duck, you’re spoilt for choice!
I’ll be sharing the hotels we stayed in in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned!…