Guide to the Cotswolds: What to do, places to stay, where to eat

Escape the city and relax in the idyllic beauty of the Cotswolds.

Just two hours’ drive from London, the quintessential market towns of the Cotswolds, with their honey-coloured cottages with rose climbers and wisterias, and traditional customs, will give you an insight into true English country life.

With plenty of country houses, outdoor attractions, and shopping opportunities, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Things to do

Sudeley Castle

Heralded as the most romantic place in the Cotswolds, Sudeley Castle offers a wonderful day out for both couples and families. Its crumbling 15th century ruins, opulent castle rooms and award winning gardens, provide something for everyone to enjoy. Immerse yourself in its rich history, discovering how it was home to four English queens, was involved in the 17th century civil wars, and is the burial place of Katherine Parr.

Gardening enthusiasts be sure to visit the Castle’s 10 award winning gardens, situated in the 1,200 acre estate. Children can embrace their inner medieval spirit by dressing up as a Tudor, attempting to scale the wooden fort, and undertaking the ten-piece assault course.

01242 604244;

guide to cotswolds

Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire

Westonbirt Arboretum

If you are a walking and wildlife enthusiast, Westonbirt Arboretum will far from disappoint and is well worth a day’s visit. With over 15,000 specimens of trees from all over the world, and three wild areas to explore, it is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature this bank holiday.

Discover the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood, and enjoy a picnic on the Downs before taking a trip through the leafy canopy on the Stihl Treetop Walkway, giving magnificent birds-eye views of the arboretum. Look out for Treefest, which with its 100 exhibitors and local artisan traders returns to Westonbirt this bank holiday.

0300 0674890;

Castle Combe, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water and The Slaughters

The joy of a trip to the Cotswolds is in the discovery of picturesque villages, and they don’t come any more picturesque than Castle Combe.

Located in Wiltshire and roughly five miles north of Chippenham, the picture below speaks for itself – but Bibury (pictured above), Bourton-on-the-Water and Lower and Upper Slaughter are equally devastating.

Guide to the Cotswolds

Early morning in Castle Combe, Wiltshire

Cotswold Farm Park

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park is a must for all those passionate about rare breeds and farming in general. First opened in 1973, the park champions and celebrates rare breeds of farm animals, teaching the importance of protecting them for future generations.

Particularly wonderful for children, the park enables you to get hands on with the animals, handling week old chicks, bottle feeding goats, and meeting newly born piglets.  Visitors can take home farm produce by visiting the Farm Shop, as well as Cotswold fudge and puddings made locally.

01451 850307;

Guide to the Cotswolds

Antique Hunting

With the Cotswolds renowned for its abundance of antiques, antique hunting while staying in the area is a must. Head first to Tetbury, which infamous for its royal connections, is a haven for antique dealers and private buyers. Long Street Antiques, spread over three floors in a great Georgian house is home to 30 dealers, and displays a range of antiques from paintings to porcelain.

Amy Perry Antiques further down the street, combing traditional rustic items with a 21st century approach is also worth a visit. Next head to Stow on the Wold, which also boasts many shops, such as the lovingly restored Durham Antiques, which houses silver, art and Staffordshire.

Place to stay

Lords of the Manor Hotel, Upper Slaughter

Nested in the rolling Cotswold Hills, near the ancient town of Upper Slaughter, Lords of the Manor Hotel promises a luxurious weekend away. Good Hotel Guide’s ‘Country House Hotel of the Year’, it offers an unsurpassable country house experience. Guests may chose from more cosy Country Rooms, to grander Lords Rooms, all of which are individually furnished and overlook the estate.

Proudly hound friendly, why not take your pooch along, indulging him in a handcrafted dog biscuit from the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant. The restaurant, with its classically French inspired food, is a wonderful place to enjoy a sumptuous dinner after a day’s exploration.

Double rooms from £150 – 01451 820243;

Calcot Manor, Tetbury

Combing the traditional Cotswold stone manor house with contemporary interior design, Calcot Manor offers guests a chic and stylish stay in the Cotswolds. Situated in 220 acres of meadowland which you can explore, it boasts 35 beautifully furnished rooms, a serene spa with a lavender lined outdoor hot tub and a healthy choice restaurant, tennis courts, and even a woodland gymnasium.

Guests can chose from multiple dining experiences; if it something more formal you are after, the Conservatory Restaurant with views over the Cotswold Hills is perfect, whereas if you’d like something more traditional, the Gumstool Inn provides a pub atmosphere. Guests can enjoy a full English breakfast each morning, as well as a daily newspaper.

Double rooms from £199 – 01666 890391;

Guide to the Cotswolds

Calcot Manor, near Tetbury

Snowshill Estate Bed and Breakfast, Gloucestershire

For something a little more traditional, charming and quaint, Snowshill Estate Bed and Breakfast is the ideal place to stay over the bank holiday weekend. Set on a working country estate of 900 acres in the northern Cotswolds, it is a traditional farmhouse B&B.

Its mullion windows, small library, and house dating to the 16th century, transport guests into a past era, and its tranquil and peaceful nature promises a retreat from fast-paced modern life. Guests can savour each morning in a delicious breakfast, made using locally sourced produce, such as the estate’s own Orpington chicken’s eggs, and honey from a nearby beekeeper.

Double rooms from £80 – 01386 853959;

Places to eat 

La Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham

To experience Cotswold fine dining at its finest, a visit to La Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham is an absolute must. Although a little simple on the exterior, with its interior more cosy and intimate than cutting edge interior design, its food more than makes up for it.

Combining ‘terroir’ cooking with a modern twist, the restaurant champions the most delicious of French cuisine, and has won two Michelin stars, as well as other prestigious awards – not least high praise from notoriously hard-to-please restaurant critic Jay Rayner, who described his meal there as ‘what I considered to be one of the best meals of my life’. Guests can chose from a menu of two, three or four courses.

01242 573449;

Made by Bob, Cirencester

If you are after a more laid back deli style restaurant, head to Made by Bob in the ancient market town of Cirencester. The café, with its deli and open kitchen backing onto the restaurant floor, is a relaxed meeting place, where people can enjoy food and drink throughout the day. Promoting a menu of modern British cuisine combined with Italian delicacies, Bob Parkinson, the visionary behind Made by Bob, offers a culinary experience unique in the Cotswolds.

Why not start your morning with a cappuccino and an artisan croissant, take a light lunch or Bresola with pecorino, watercress and almonds, or treat yourself to an almond frangipane for afternoon tea.

01285 641818;

Guide to the Cotswolds

The Bell, Sapperton 

The Bell, in the quaint, sleepy village of Sapperton, provides fantastic English pub food to an extremely high standard. Its flagged stone floors, open fires and low beams, combined with its traditional food, made it the ideal choice if you are looking for something truly British.

With its delightful garden and courtyard, and rural views, it is the perfect setting to wallow in the evening sun and enjoy a relaxed dinner. Tuck into traditional British food, prepared with fresh ingredients from the pub’s vegetable garden, and try refreshing homemade beverages, such as the Sapperton Spring Punch.

01285 760298;

Badger’s Hall, Chipping Campden

A visit to the Cotswolds would not be complete without indulging in a traditional Cotswold cream tea. The 15th century Tea Room, Badger’s Hall, in the market town of Chipping Campden, is the perfect place to get your fingers sticky in jam, cream, and lots of cake.

Relax beside the open fires, exposed beams, and pine antiques, and enjoy a delicious homemade scone, cake or pastry made by owner Paul in his infamous Aga. Sticky toffee pudding cake and toasted teacakes are just some of the sweet treats on offer.

01386 840839;

Guide compiled by Clemmie De La Poer Beresford


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