Cotswold Cool: Part One

I like my boyfriend. Really, I do. The fact that he has a cottage in one of the prettiest parts of the Cotswolds, only a seven minute drive from the glorious Daylesford Hay Barn Spa, and another three minutes from the divine Wild Rabbit, is just a happy coincidence. To my credit, when we first started dating the Wild Rabbit didn’t exist. In its place was a sad country hotel called the Tollgate, the rural norm back then. We stayed there once; our bedroom was so small you couldn’t swing a cat in it. Breakfast was dismal, in a dingy, dark space with low ceilings and a greasy sausage breakfast. But all that is ancient history.

The Cotswolds is cool now. Nature versus nurture? You get both here. Rolling green hills, big dreamy skies, sleepy sheep and country quiet. All this is accompanied by my kind of nurture: Egyptian cotton sheets, goose down quilts, and deep soothing massages followed by fresh ginger tea or, ideally, something stronger. Raspberry bellinis anyone? By the way, don’t count on milking any cows. There’s no time. Not with this summer’s fantastic Wilderness Festival, or the old-fashioned Gifford’s Circus crying for your attention. If you’re the touchy feely type, ‘on form’, a stone sculpture show running through July 6th should satisfy those cravings.

Before you tackle all that, however, you’ll need a suitable place to stay. For those who aspire to the manor born, or perhaps are born to the manor, Thyme at Southrop is just the ticket. It’s practically an entire estate, including a chic and spacious eight-bedroom guesthouse, a group of newly refurbished, uber-comfortable cottages, and la piece de resistance: a medieval tithe barn with gloriously high ceilings for entertaining (seating 16-80), with a top-notch, hands-on cooking school to boot. Extras include Bunny Guinness-designed gardens, and the award-winning village pub, the Swan, just a minute’s walk away in tiny, idyllic Southrop. All this is owned by the dynamic Caryn Hibbert and her husband Jerry, who live in Southrop Manor next door (about the only spot guests can’t get their hands on). Part boutique hotel, part private country house, Southrop offers everything from 5-star experience to self-catering accommodation. Thyme is approximately an hour and forty minute drive from London.

Elena Bowes has plenty of top picks for a heavenly, bucolic Cotswold getaway. So many, in fact, that we’ve decided not to confine them to just one post. Over the next several weeks, keep your browser pointed here for more tips on England’s favourite rolling hills.

Nature versus nurture? You get both here.