barnsley house stay

Barnsley House – a wonderfully cosy Cotswolds hideaway

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Within two minutes of arriving at Barnsley House I had completely fallen in love with it – and that’s before I’d even tried out the private cinema, outdoor hot tub or delicious food. All these things were yet to come, but the welcome itself was so cheerful and friendly that I already knew I was in for a treat.

barnsley house stay
Barnsley House is a 17th century stone manor with just 18 rooms

I arrived in the middle of what could be called controlled chaos: it was a wintery Saturday afternoon and a recent storm had cut all power to the local village. However Barnsley House had its own generator and so alone still had heat, power, light and all the essentials of life.

barnsley house stay
Barnsley House is surrounded by beautiful gardens

Staff were welcoming waifs and strays from nearby houses, sending out food parcels to guests on site, welcoming in cold and hungry visitors from the power-free Village Pub – also owned by Barnsley House – and had even found a dog basket to house someone’s dog temporarily in reception. There were roaring fires, and cosy sofas, and coffee with biscuits: the whole atmosphere was busy but still relaxed and welcoming, and instantly made you feel as if you were in safe hands.

barnsley house stay
Our room, no. 6, had high-beamed ceilings, great views and all the mod cons including smart TV and minibar

The feeling continued when I finally tore myself away from people-watching downstairs to find our room – number six, at the top of the immaculately-carpeted stairs. It was beautifully designed (and I preferred it to others I saw when given a guided tour later, one of which had a bath at the foot of the bed which isn’t really my thing).

barnsley house stay
Barnsley House is famed for its gardens which were designed by renowed gardener Rosemary Verey (view from our bedroom window)

There were twin beds at one end of a long room, lovely old-fashioned ceiling beams, a sofa and coffee table, coffee machine and various treats, wonderful views of the Rosemary Verey-designed garden (she was a favourite of Prince Charles) and then a large bathroom with stand-alone bath (with an impressive fountain-style tap) and separate walk-in shower at the far end.

barnsley house stay
Our bathroom with standalone bath, twin sinks and lots of space

The only slightly strange thing was having the wardrobe in the bathroom – but it was all beautifully done, right down to the personalised card which not only welcomed us to Barnsley House but helpfully listed our booked treatments and meals.

barnsley house stay
Our welcome card in our room reminded us what treats we had in store

There was no time to spare though – the cinema had been booked for us from 3pm till 6pm. In the room was a list of 500 films to choose from, and it was a very impressive list too, from classics to the latest releases, Oscar-winners, old favourites, comedies…

However after much dithering we plumped for An Affair to Remember which neither of us had seen, and headed off to spend the afternoon with Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, some freshly-made popcorn courtesy of the friendly staff, and lots of gins and tonics (brought by us).

barnsley house stay
It’s pink, it’s squashy, it’s our very own private cinema for the afternoon…
barnsley house stay
Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr start their Affair to Remember…

Such indulgence! We emerged afterwards feeling incredibly relaxed and as if we’d been at Barnsley House for a week or two.

barnsley house stay
Potage seasonal soup to start

The food and atmosphere in the restaurant that evening were both first-class. I had risotto with Jerusalam artichoke and black truffle to start and then parpadelle pasta with vension which were both delicious and perfect for a winter’s evening.

barnsley house stay
… parpadelle with vension to follow

My mother had the potage seasonal soup followed by the chicken breast with wild mushroom and declared herself delighted by both. We shared a perfectly-done creme brulee and a sorbet and then rolled upstairs to bed, very content indeed.

Breakfast in the Barnsley House-style was very relaxed and friendly – the staff are helpful but not intrusive or fussy, the buffet was full of nice touches such as Kilner jars full of homemade jams and honey with little saucers next to them you could fill up and take back to your table, and you could have your porridge with whisky, Drambuie or clotted cream (in case you weren’t feeling indulged enough).

barnsley house stay
Breakfast in the lovely garden room at Barnsley House is a friendly and relaxing meal
barnsley house stay
… with a huge buffet and good cooked options to choose from

The spa is just across the gardens so I headed there after breakfast for a dip in the outdoor hot top, a rose body polish and Swedish massage – again, incredibly indulgent.

barnsley house stay
It’s cold outside but the hot tub was a perfect warm to warm up

It was also the first spa I’d seen which actually had a section on the form you fill in before your treatment which asked what kind of music you wanted (classical, jazz, traditional spa, chill out) and whether you wanted your therapist to chat while doing the treatment, quite inspired.

barnsley house stay
The post-massage relaxing room with its countryside views

I found my mother reading the papers in the relaxation room looking as if she never wanted to leave, and indeed it was a wrench to check out from somewhere so welcoming and relaxing. Everywhere you look there are little touches which show that someone is really thinking about you, from baskets full of walking guides and information about the gardens, to the rosemary sprig on napkins at dinner and the walking boot-shaped ‘do not disturb’ signs for your bedroom door.

With just 18 rooms and an adults-only policy (children are welcome at Barnsley House’s sister hotel, Calcot Manor) it is one of the nicest places I’ve stayed in all year.

barnsley house stay

Barnsley House, Barnsley, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5EE
Phone: 01285 740000
Rooms start from £200 per room per night, including VAT.

Barnsley House is a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels group, is in the Editors Choice – Spas in the 2016 Good Hotel Guide and just been named one of the world’s best hotels by CN Traveler

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Sarah Bridge

Sarah Bridge

Every review is personally researched and written by leisure expert Sarah Bridge who, when she is not writing about leisure for a national newspaper, spends her time seeking out the best leisure experiences, from city centre boutique hotels to country house estates, Michelin-starred dining to the newest openings.
Sarah Bridge
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6 thoughts on “Barnsley House – a wonderfully cosy Cotswolds hideaway”

  1. This looks amazing and will definitely be the next place I stay when I visit Bath. I just hope that I too get welcomed with the G&T!

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