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The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is the largest of its kind, with lush green, gently sloping hills dotted with centuries-old English towns that look as if they’ve come from the pages of a storybook. It stretches through parts of Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset in the south, and from the border regions of South Warwickshire and Worcestershire, through West Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. To make the most of this unforgettable region, base yourself at one of these hotels and you’ll feel as if you’re immersed in a fairy tale in England.
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Tracing its origins all the way back to the 12th century, the Castle Inn has an interesting history as a former retreat for Oliver Cromwell and sits within Castle Combe, what’s often been called one of the prettiest villages in England. The homes that line the winding streets are made up of honey-hued Cotswold stone, while locals sometimes sell handcrafted items and home-baked items just outside their doors.
The inn itself sits in the heart of the village, boasting lots of personality with exposed beams and open log fires. Its cozy rooms are all unique, many retaining original features along with modern amenities like tea and coffee facilities, a large bathroom, cozy bathrobes and complimentary Wi-Fi. The on-site Oliver’s Restaurant is highly acclaimed, serving a creative British menu and an extensive wine list, while the lounge bar offers more casual fare for lunch and light snacks.
Also in Castle Combe, the Manor House Hotel and Golf Club is a quintessential English luxury castle hotel dating back to the 14th century, though much of the building today is primarily from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It impresses from the moment one drives through the gate down the long driveway, complete with an 18-hole championship golf course, a croquet lawn, tennis courts, beautifully-manicured Italianate, Gothic and Classic gardens as well as a Michelin-starred restaurant offering seasonal dishes crafted from local ingredients, some of which are grown in its organic kitchen garden. Accommodation includes everything from rooms and suites in the main manor house and the Mews Cottages, which are nestled along a peaceful lane between the village and the main hotel building. All have a Victorian atmosphere with features like claw-foot tubs as well as modern amenities, including iPod docks and TVs with DVD players.
A beautiful country house set among 12 peaceful acres with gorgeous gardens on the eastern fringes of the region in Malmesbury, Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa offers an indulgent stay with a high-end restaurant and a fabulous spa with aromatic thermal suites, a hydrotherapy pool, a sauna and an array of decadent treatments that are provided in an oxygen tent. The highlight is the two Michelin-starred restaurants and its 10-course tasting menu created by head chef Niall Keating. More casual dining can be enjoyed at Grey’s Brasserie. All rooms are spacious and have a comfortable country house feel, some with antiques, along with modern amenities like iPod docks.
Tucked into a hidden Cotswold valley, at The Old Vicarage guests can look forward to waking up to especially picturesque views in a quiet, rural setting before dining on a sumptuous locally-sourced breakfast. The Georgian style former vicarage has many period features like open fireplaces and high ceilings. The Sleigh Room, The Twin and The Suite face the south enjoying lovely vistas of the beech tree-lined valley through traditional sash windows. Each is individually furnished and even include some family heirloom antiques. Enjoy bathrobes and cushy towels along with high-end bath products.
This magnificent 1909 Arts & Crafts mansion overlooks the village of Broadway in a secluded location on a 400-acre estate. A boutique hotel, it has just eight bedrooms, an extremely welcoming host and a highly talented chef. Rooms vary in style and include options like the four-poster with an original fireplace and twin claw-foot tubs positioned by the windows for fabulous views. Guests also have access to the spa at the sister hotel Dormy House next door which includes an outdoor hot tub and indoor infinity pool.
This alluring 17th-century manor house nestled in the pretty village of Barnsley features four acres of formal gardens and especially elegant accommodation. Most of its 18 rooms overlook or open onto its world-famous gardens and include the much photographed Laburnum Arch. For the most secluded feel, choose the Secret Garden Suite or rustic-chic Potting Shed which have large lavish bathrooms with separate showers and tubs along with high-end bath products. The Garden Spa hosts a steam room, sauna and five treatment rooms along with an outdoor stone terrace and hydrotherapy pool.
This beautiful Georgian townhouse looks out to a stretch of Pittville Park in Cheltenham and offers an idyllic blend of bold modern decor and refurbished antiques. Its elegant rooms are spread across three floors and are all individually designed, some with claw-foot tubs, and all stocked with organic toiletries made right in the Cotswolds while featuring Apple TVs, Bose iPod docks, Nespresso coffee machines and free Wi-Fi.
A 17th-century coaching inn, The Old Stocks Inn is made up of three quintessential Cotswold golden stone houses. It retains some original features like wooden beams and crooked stone walls while adding designer furnishings. The Amazing Great Rooms are the highest end rooms, filled with character and come complete with a complimentary minibar. Families can choose the bunker option which comes with a double bed, triple bunk and a games console while all can look forward to dining at the onsite restaurant serving local and seasonal British fare.