Just an hour west of London, the Cotswolds is one of the most pretty parts of the world all year around. Famed for its beautiful villages and picturesque honey-coloured stone cottages, the Cotswolds is perfect as a short weekend break from London. Full of cosy country-house hotels and the country pubs that you see in films, with roaring open fires and hearty pub food menus, this is England at it’s best.
Covering a huge area of 800 square miles and stretching into five different counties, you’ll need a little while to see it all. But luckily it’s an area that is more about the experience than racing to see everything, and most importantly it's a place to relax and enjoy.
There are countless luxurious hotels to choose from. We went for The Greenway Hotel & Spa, a luxurious Elizabethan manor house dating back around 400 years, with a focus on relaxation. It’s located on the western fringes of the Cotswolds and set in 8 acres of landscaped gardens, complete with an award-wining restaurant and well-equipped spa. The hotel features an outdoor hot tub, perfect for warming up after a long day of exploring.
Broadway town is a perfect example of a Cotswolds town full of honey-washed stone houses. The Tower sits at the second-highest point in the Cotswolds, at the centre of a country park with unrivalled views. With plenty of parking, it’s a great spot to start a walk through the Cotswolds countryside, being conveniently located on the Cotswold Way.
Comfy shoes are a must for a visit to Blenheim Palace and its glorious parkland. As grand as it sounds, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provides an impressive experience for visitors. The stunning stately home, a famous filming location, is filled with state rooms packed in history. In December, the gardens are converted into a stunning display of lighting illuminations, bringing Christmas to Blenheim.
Cleeve Hill is the highest point in the Cotswolds with a clear view over to Cheltenham, the River Severn and into Wales. The summit is 330m high with a network of paths leading in all directions, so finding the peak can be both a challenge and a great workout!
A fairytale castle with more than a millennia of history, it dates back to Anglo-Saxon times and has a wealth of royal connections including Richard III, Elizabeth I and the last of Henry VIII’s wives who lived and died in the castle. The Banqueting Hall ruins provide a dramatic backdrop for the award-winning gardens, complete with a maze, which attract visitors in their own right.
Crickley Hill Country Park
Perched on the edge of the Cotswolds, Crickley Hill has impressive views over the rolling Malvern Hills. There are a number of trails that can be explored, and prehistoric sites dating back six thousand years with Neolithic and Iron Age settlements to discover.