A self confessed city girl grows up spoilt by the natural beauty of New Zealand and Australia, but it takes a move to London to get her to appreciate nature.
After years of taking blue sky, sunlight, fresh air, stars, and trees for granted, I got a bit of a shock whilst living in London when I found myself craving nature (let's just say, there may have been a serious celebration when my last school camp was over). Most of my trips outside of London were to mainland Europe and I definitely didn't see as much of the UK as I could or possibly should have (never made it to Brighton...), but I did get to the Cotswolds a couple of times and loved it.
Exactly what you imagine of the English countryside, the Cotswolds is quaint, green, and dotted with the most charming little villages, and it's only 2 hours out of Central London by car or train. Unless you're planning to stay in your cottage for the whole weekend (an entirely viable option), I would recommend you hire a car to get around, as it is not so easy relying on the limited taxi services.
The two weekends I spent in the Cotswolds - one with a big group of friends (complete with a sports day and dancing on chairs) and one with my bestie Lucia (culminating in her boyfriend Rod surprising her to propose) - were two of the best. Scroll through for some of my tips and if you visit the Cotswolds, I hope you love it as much as I did! L x
It wouldn't be a weekend in the English countryside if you didn't stay in a cute cottage or country house; there are so many great options in the Cotswolds and many villages to choose from, but we chose to stay in Kingham the last time around due to its proximity to Daylesford farm.
If you're lucky enough to be a Soho House member (kicking myself for not applying as soon as I landed in London) or if you know someone who is, then you'll want to book yourself in at Soho Farmhouse. If you're not a member, but want to stay somewhere of a similar standard, then give the cottages and The Wild Rabbit both run by Daylesford a go.
Or if you're like us, wanting to save on accommodation to splurge on food and activities, but still picky when it comes to interiors (can you blame two interior designers?!?!) then Swallows' Rest on Airbnb is perfect. Jamie and his family were so welcoming, leaving out a fresh pot of tea and biscuits for us on arrival. The interior is English country chic at its cosy finest, but wonderfully pared back (no over the top layering of patterns to be found here).
SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
Obviously, the countryside. And the villages. There is so much exploring to be done and village hopping is much more easily done by car!
Peruse the quaint shops in Chipping Norton (one of these shops is the origin of my "Bitch" mug... one of the best purchases I've ever made); while away an afternoon at the Crown & Trumpet on the green in Broadway; or check out one of the many markets.
I have very little experience with horse riding, but it's something I enjoy a lot. I'm so glad we got the opportunity to go out for a little hack, after we were almost thwarted by the rain. Cotswold Riding at Durham's Farm were super accommodating; it's a riding school first and foremost, so it was just us on the hack, which was nice. The scenery was stunning, especially with the late afternoon light.
Get yourself to Bamford Haybarn Spa at Daylesford farm for the perfect relaxation treat; the full body massage is epic. The relaxation lounge (and the rest of the spa) is designed in a calming minimal, but rustic style, and has a beautiful outlook over the fields. If your reason for visiting the Cotswolds is to relax, then this is a must.
FOOD & DRINK
Daylesford farm and its organic produce won't be foreign to most west Londoners, with their Notting Hill, Marylebone, and Pimlico outposts. The farm shop and the cafe should not be missed!
The Wild Rabbit was awarded its first Michelin star last year and it is well deserved. Tim Allen's delicious hearty food is perfectly at home in the rustic stone walled dining room; definitely make a dinner booking.