Tag Archives: Cotswolds

In defence (and memory) of little yellow photobombing cars

Back in January 2015 I wrote a blog post in defence of little yellow photobombing cars, as the car owned by Peter Maddox, 82-year old resident of Bibury village in the Cotswolds, had attracted the ire of tourists come to photograph Arlington Row, supposedly one of the prettiest streets in England. They were complaining that their photographs of said street were being ruined by Mr Maddox’s cheerful little Vauxhall Corsa.  Now it seems the car has been sent to that great Vauxhall garage in the sky by a vandal who destroyed Mr Maddox’s car beyond repair, while scrawling ‘move it’ on the bonnet.

Not only is this a horrible thing to do to anyone or their car, it totally misses the point of visiting living, breathing places inhabited by living, breathing people (and their means of transport): one of the attractions of Cotswolds villages such as Bibury is that they are real places, not museums covered in dust or protective barriers. If you want an uninterrupted, sterile, pristine picture of something – buy a postcard. Otherwise be happy that you had the privilege of travelling the world and recording what you see – not an artificial, sanitised version of it.

So in defence (once again) and now in memory of photobombing little yellow cars everywhere, here’s my Fiat spoiling (or enhancing) the view at some of the loveliest hotels in the UK.

Not far from Bibury is the lovely Lords of the Manor hotel in Upper Slaughter. It has 8 acres of glorious gardens, a Michelin-starred restaurants, and a bright little yellow Fiat parked outside it…
[click here for my review] Continue reading In defence (and memory) of little yellow photobombing cars

Quintessential Cotswolds retreat at Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter

The man who described Bibury as ‘the most beautiful village in England’ surely never went to Lower Slaughter. I’ve often driven past the road signposted to The Slaughters on my way through the Cotswolds but had never taken the turning.

It was only when I was on my way to the Lords of the Manor hotel in Upper Slaughter that I realised what I’d been missing out on. It might have a slightly alarming name but Lower Slaughter, all lush green fields, yellow Cotswold stone houses and a babbling brook running through it all, was the very essence of a charming village.

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Lower Slaughter looked stunning in the early summer sun

The presence of a wedding party – the photographer making the most of the stunning scenery to photograph the happy couple – and children running happily back and forth across the little bridge over the river, combined to make a scene which would have been dismissed as too unreal if it had appeared in a Hollywood film. It was only by a sheer effort of will that I got back in my car and headed on up the hill to my destination.

Lords of the Manor hotel
Newly-weds walk through the village of Lower Slaughter

Lords of the Manor, perched just behind the grand private home Upper Slaughter Manor (which is the first thing you see on your way up the hill) dates back to 1649 and looks as beautiful and traditional as you’d expect from a 17th century Cotswold manor house. Set in eight acres, which means impressive gardens both front and back of the hotel, the hotel is a calm retreat which seems as if it hasn’t changed much over the centuries.

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The best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds – A Lady of Leisure’s favourite five

Searching for luxury hotels among the beautiful rolling hills of the Cotswolds may sound like an easy task – there seems to be one round every corner. However with so many to chose from, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. With most insisting on a two-night stay at weekends, you want to be assured that you’re spending your money wisely and that you’re going to have a truly memorable stay. So after extensive research, here’s A Lady of Leisure’s best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds. Do you agree or are there others on your list?

Barnsley House, Barnsley House, Barnsley, Gloucestershire 
01285 740000

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With 18 rooms, a spa, private cinema, landscaped gardens and superb restaurant, you are practically guaranteed a fabulous stay at Barnsley House. The rooms are beautifully decorated in a simple but classic style, the staff are friendly and efficient, the food is first-class and the cinema (which you can hire for free) is really indulgent, with leather seats and freshly popped popcorn. The grounds aren’t vast and the spa isn’t the biggest in the hotels on my list, but there is a style and charm about Barnsley House which is impossible to resist. The hotel also owns the Village Pub just a short walk away.
Rooms from £200 per room per night

Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa, Easton Grey,
Malmesbury, Wiltshire 01666 822 888

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If it’s indulgence you’re after, then you’ve come to the right place. Whatley Manor is right on the edge of the Cotswolds but you won’t be leaving here to go sight-seeing – there’s too much relaxing to be done. The spa is surprisingly extensive, with a hydrotherapy pool, four separate sauna/steam rooms, outdoor loungers, treatment rooms and even a mud chamber – you could easily spend the day Continue reading The best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds – A Lady of Leisure’s favourite five

A treat for the mind and the body, Whatley Manor is one of the best hotels in the Cotswolds

Just when you think you’ve stayed in the best hotels in the Cotswolds, along comes Whatley Manor and tops the lot. From the moment the gates opened to reveal a beautiful cobbled courtyard, the entrance garlanded by wisteria and lavender, through to the spa, private cinema, a Michelin-starred restaurant and superb gardens, Whatley Manor didn’t disappoint in any way.

Whatley Manor
Whatley Manor is surrounded by 12 acres of land

Our suite, overlooking the lush garden terrace at the back of the hotel, was immaculate and managed to walk the line between modern luxury and classical English charm. There was ample storage space, a very smart bathroom, a good-sized bedroom and a contemporary-design lounge with vast sofa. Continue reading A treat for the mind and the body, Whatley Manor is one of the best hotels in the Cotswolds

Dormy House – so snug, you’ll never want to leave

It isn’t easy to stand out among such a competitive field – I’m talking about the ‘gorgeous Cotswold hotels’ market, of which there are many – but the award-winning boutique hotel Dormy House more than meets the challenge. From the moment I walked in the door and saw the cosy sofas and roaring fireplaces, to the friendly welcome at reception and then finally, arrived at The Snug, one of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, I knew I was in for a treat.

Dormy House Cotswolds
Dormy House has cosy lounges with roaring fires to welcome you the moment you arrive

Located on the massive Farncombe Estate, which is perched on the hills above Broadway, one of the prettiest towns in the the Cotswolds, Dormy House was originally a 17th century farmhouse and has been owned by the same family since 1977. However while the building is charming, it is certainly not fusty or old-fashioned, and the spa – handily in the main building – could hardly be more modern, with its sleek 16-metre infinity pool, salt steam room, tropical shower, glass-fronted Finnish sauna and outdoor hot tub.

Dormy House Cotswolds
Our bedroom in The Snug – minimalist and very relaxing

owlThe bathroom was immaculate, with a massive walk-in shower and the deepest bath I have even bathed in: a massive tin tub in which I soaked for a good hour, my magazine propped up on the soap dish stand and sipping a pre-dinner G&T while listening to music from the bedside radio. Even the in-room iPod, which isn’t usually my type of thing, scored points because you could easily order cocktails through it – and the little room owl was very cute.


To book directly with the hotel go to Dormy House
To compare prices go to Expedia Hotels.comHotelsCombined

To read more reviews and see the latest prices go to Dormy House on TripAdvisor


Dormy House Cotswolds
The simply massive tin bath

We’d decided to eat in the more informal Potting Shed at the front of the hotel as breakfast would be in the Garden Room restaurant, and it was certainly a more relaxed atmosphere, with music blaring out from the walls (they did turn it down) and a friendly but casual service. I started with wild mushrooms on toast with crispy duck egg (£8) while my guest had the potted Brixham crab with warm blinis (£9) – the crab was delicious and the wild mushrooms were divine, perfect for a cold wintry evening.

Continue reading Dormy House – so snug, you’ll never want to leave

Calcot Manor: a family-friendly escape to the Cotswolds

For those who love the idea of recently-reviewed boutique hotel Barnsley House (and who wouldn’t?) but are travelling with children in tow, its sister hotel Calcot Manor, just the other side of Circencester, is the ideal alternative. A country retreat with an element of luxury.

While you don’t have to have children to enjoy Calcot’s charms – lovely rooms, good food, massages and beauty treatments and so on, situated in the glorious Cotswolds countryside – you might find your morning swim isn’t quite as relaxing with small infants splashing about, or that breakfast time is somewhat louder than usual.

calcot manor
Calcot Manor dates back from the 14th century – the main building houses the restaurant and pub and some rooms, while others are in a separate building across the stone courtyard

However the prevalence of small ones does give it a more relaxed and casual air: there is a pub on one side of the house – The Gumstool – and the bright and airy Conservatory restaurant on the other – and they are more in the ‘wear whatever you feel comfortable in’ category rather than the smarter dress code of a boutique or grand country house hotel. Continue reading Calcot Manor: a family-friendly escape to the Cotswolds

Barnsley House – a wonderfully cosy Cotswolds hideaway

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.

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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.

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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. Continue reading Barnsley House – a wonderfully cosy Cotswolds hideaway