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Brave new Wolds: The best places to stay in the Cotswolds, from cool new pubs to swish hotels

Jane Knight checked into The Fox (pictured), a new inn in the Cotswold village of Oddington. 'The Cotswolds is so cool these days that its reputation as a honeypot for traditional tourists has changed completely, and it now draws a hip crowd whatever their age,' she says

You can see at a glance why they call it the Ferrari of farm shops. Daylesford Organic’s series of super-scrubbed-up barns offer not only five-star fruit and veg but also clothing, crockery and a beauty range.

It’s an entire empire of eco-chic goodies, with a spa, cookery school, juice bar and restaurants sitting alongside the wine shop, creamery and bakery.

Fancy some bread? That’s five pounds, thank you, for a small sourdough or £8.99 for a Good Life loaf (which presumably you’re living if you can afford it), while the cost of roundels of cheese will leave you round-eyed in amazement.

Jane Knight checked into The Fox (pictured), a new inn in the Cotswold village of Oddington. 'The Cotswolds is so cool these days that its reputation as a honeypot for traditional tourists has changed completely, and it now draws a hip crowd whatever their age,' she says

Jane Knight checked into The Fox (pictured), a new inn in the Cotswold village of Oddington. ‘The Cotswolds is so cool these days that its reputation as a honeypot for traditional tourists has changed completely, and it now draws a hip crowd whatever their age,’ she says 

Eco empire: Jane enjoyed a 'deliciously fresh lunch' at the Daylesford Organic shop (above), which is the creation of Carole Bamford, wife of billionaire Tory donor and JCB chairman Lord Bamford

Eco empire: Jane enjoyed a ‘deliciously fresh lunch’ at the Daylesford Organic shop (above), which is the creation of Carole Bamford, wife of billionaire Tory donor and JCB chairman Lord Bamford

Daylesford Organic is the creation of Carole Bamford, wife of billionaire Tory donor and JCB chairman Lord Bamford.

During Boris Johnson’s recovery from Covid, thousands of pounds worth of its wholesome goodies were dispatched to No 10, and the day before our visit the Bamfords held Boris and Carrie’s delayed wedding party on their 1,500-acre Cotswolds estate. However, when my son and I sat down to a deliciously fresh lunch there was no sign of any lingering guests from the party among the Ferrari, Porsche and Bentley owners frequenting the shop.

Thankfully I didn’t have to slot our Hyundai between the pricey motors in the car park, as we had walked 25 minutes down country lanes – past the medieval St Nicholas Church with its enormous faded mural of the Last Judgement – from Bamford’s latest business venture, The Fox in Oddington.

Bagging one of its six rooms made us feel pretty special, even without a magnificent motor. The Cotswolds is so cool these days that its reputation as a honeypot for traditional tourists has changed completely, and it now draws a hip crowd whatever their age.

At The Fox, all six rooms are beautifully adorned suites. Ours, with wooden floors and exposed beams in the partially sloping ceiling, came with an enormous bath in the master room and twin beds in an adjoining room.

Almost a decade since Lady Bamford, the undisputed Queen of Cotswolds cool, opened the beautifully designed Wild Rabbit at nearby Kingham so Daylesford visitors would have somewhere to stay, she has seriously raised the stakes with her second pub.

In The Fox’s buzzy bar, its flagstones and cosy corners are brought bang up to date with a blond oak bar and a line of pumps serving local beers.

The Fox (pictured), Bamford¿s latest business venture, is a 'million miles from a traditional Cotswolds pub', according to Jane, though she notes that it has two 'traditional' rooms off the main bar

The Fox (pictured), Bamford’s latest business venture, is a ‘million miles from a traditional Cotswolds pub’, according to Jane, though she notes that it has two ‘traditional’ rooms off the main bar

The Fox's Tack Room, above, is big on character, with a large inglenook fireplace and a row of rosettes dangling from a beam

The Fox’s Tack Room, above, is big on character, with a large inglenook fireplace and a row of rosettes dangling from a beam

Discreet fox imagery extends into the restaurant with a wall of Crittall windows overlooking fox topiary in the manicured garden and a ‘Foxylicious’ sign above the open kitchen. There are equestrian influences, too, notably in the reclaimed stable doors topped by saddles with upcycled leather from the farm.

It’s a million miles from a traditional Cotswolds pub, yet its owner has been savvy, keeping residents happy with two more traditional rooms off the main bar.

The Tack Room in particular is big on character, with a large inglenook fireplace, green tongue and groove panels, chocolate-coloured armchairs and a row of rosettes dangling from a beam.

Above is The Fox¿s buzzy bar, where the flagstones and cosy corners have been 'brought bang up to date with a blond oak bar and a line of pumps serving local beers'

Above is The Fox’s buzzy bar, where the flagstones and cosy corners have been ‘brought bang up to date with a blond oak bar and a line of pumps serving local beers’

The six guest rooms at The Fox are 'beautifully adorned suites', Jane reveals

The six guest rooms at The Fox are ‘beautifully adorned suites’, Jane reveals 

Back in the restaurant the food is superb, featuring vegetarian orzo bursting with flavour, perfectly cooked steaks from the estate cows and Daylesford’s delicious organic cheese selection.

Pick your drink from the local ale, Daylesford’s fig gin or the tasty Chateau Leoube wine from the Bamford’s Provencal vineyard.

It all makes for a pleasant night’s sleep in suites that exude effortless Cotswolds chic: reclaimed wooden benches and tree stumps as bedside tables, splashes of colour in the fabric throws, flowing curtains held back with antler-shaped wooden hooks and Bamford toiletries in the bathroom.

Above is a room at The Wild Rabbit, another of Bamford's properties where 'rustic-chic style reigns'

Above is a room at The Wild Rabbit, another of Bamford’s properties where ‘rustic-chic style reigns’

When it opened in 2013, The Wild Rabbit quickly gained the moniker ¿the poshest pub in Britain¿

When it opened in 2013, The Wild Rabbit quickly gained the moniker ‘the poshest pub in Britain’

Bed and breakfast in one of the 13 guest rooms at The Wild Rabbit costs from £225 per night

Bed and breakfast in one of the 13 guest rooms at The Wild Rabbit costs from £225 per night

The wisteria-strewn exterior of The Wild Rabbit

The wisteria-strewn exterior of The Wild Rabbit

As part of its impressive eco credentials, The Fox uses Daylesford’s organic Lleyn sheep wool both in the bed mattresses and to insulate the ceiling, while the upstairs rooms look on to a living roof of wildflowers, annuals and perennials.

A rental cottage is due to open soon across the road, adding to the 14 already available near the Wild Rabbit as well as two larger houses that joined the brood this year.

The same rustic-chic style reigns throughout the properties, including the 13 bedrooms above the Wild Rabbit, a modern interpretation of a traditional country inn with its fine-dining restaurant in a light-filled contemporary room.

It’s little wonder that when it opened in 2013, The Wild Rabbit quickly gained the moniker ‘the poshest pub in Britain’. Today, The Fox is definitely giving it a run for its money.

B&B at both The Fox (thefoxatoddington.com) and The Wild Rabbit (thewildrabbit.co.uk) costs from £225 per night.

PUBS WITH ROOMS 

The King¿s Head Inn in Bledington has a dozen rooms, one of which is pictured, above the pub and in the courtyard

The King’s Head Inn in Bledington has a dozen rooms, one of which is pictured, above the pub and in the courtyard 

The King¿s Head Inn is a 'traditional boozer' with its beamed bar (pictured), wooden settles and local ale

The King’s Head Inn is a ‘traditional boozer’ with its beamed bar (pictured), wooden settles and local ale 

Just ten minutes from Daylesford, and offering a more affordable stay, the King’s Head Inn in Bledington is run by local aristocrat Archie Orr-Ewing with his wife, the milliner Nicola de Selincourt.

She has used her fashion eye to style the dozen rooms above the pub and in the courtyard with Cole & Son wallpaper and bursts of bright fabrics. This, though, is still very much a traditional boozer, with its beamed bar, wooden settles and local ale. Menus feature free-range and organic local produce, spanning both pub classics and dishes such as haunch of venison. B&B costs from £120 per night (thekingsheadinn.net).

For another really good-value pub stay, check out the Royal Oak Tetbury. Its half a dozen modern-rustic rooms are across the courtyard in a converted outbuilding and B&B costs from just £95 per night.

The bar, with its booths and upcycled furniture, is also home to a vintage jukebox and Art Deco piano. You will find a good selection of vegan meals on the menu, which features modern European dishes, with street food dispensed from a silver Airstream trailer in the summer (theroyaloaktetbury.co.uk).

If you prefer Cotswolds cute to rustic simplicity, head to The Lamb Inn in Burford, whose conversion from a row of 15th Century weavers’ cottages has left a charming higgledy piggledy layout. 

The Lamb Inn in Burford, which has a 'charming higgledy-piggledy layout', offers meals in the garden, in the olde world pub (above) or in the candlelit dining room

The Lamb Inn in Burford, which has a ‘charming higgledy-piggledy layout’, offers meals in the garden, in the olde world pub (above) or in the candlelit dining room

The 17 bedrooms mix stylish fabrics with antiques; one, dog-friendly ‘Rosie’, comes with its own front door and garden. You can eat in the garden, in the olde world pub or in the candlelit dining room.

B&B costs from £225 per night (cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk).

Meanwhile, on the fringes of the Cotswolds, Wild Thyme & Honey opened last year in Ampney Crucis near Cirencester after a makeover.

Its swish modern rooms, with exposed stone, oversized grey headboards and pale palettes, overlook bubbling Ampney Brook at the back. 

Wild Thyme & Honey in Ampney Crucis near Cirencester has 'swish modern rooms'. B&B costs from £170 per night

Wild Thyme & Honey in Ampney Crucis near Cirencester has ‘swish modern rooms’. B&B costs from £170 per night

In Wild Thyme & Honey's adjoining pub, The Crown (above), the delicious food is a cut above your average pub grub

In Wild Thyme & Honey’s adjoining pub, The Crown (above), the delicious food is a cut above your average pub grub 

Rooms come with complimentary sloe gin, there’s fresh milk in the pantry, and wellies and umbrellas to borrow by the front door. 

In the adjoining pub, The Crown, the delicious food is a cut above your average pub grub.

B&B costs from £170 per night (wildthymeandhoney.co.uk).

COUNTRY HOUSE HOTELS 

They call Thyme (above) at Southrop a village within a village, 'and you can see why when you stroll round its beautifully manicured grounds', says Jane. There are 32 rooms scattered between the restored Cotswold farmhouse, lodge, a series of outbuildings and cottages

They call Thyme (above) at Southrop a village within a village, ‘and you can see why when you stroll round its beautifully manicured grounds’, says Jane. There are 32 rooms scattered between the restored Cotswold farmhouse, lodge, a series of outbuildings and cottages 

Everything at Thyme has been beautifully designed by owner Caryn Hibbert. Above are the baths in the hotel's Botanical Bothy treatment space

Ox Barn (pictured) is Thyme's restaurant, which serves an estate-to-plate menu

Everything at Thyme has been beautifully designed by owner Caryn Hibbert. On the left are the baths in the hotel’s Botanical Bothy treatment space. Ox Barn (pictured right) is Thyme’s restaurant, which serves an estate-to-plate menu

They call Thyme at Southrop a village within a village, and you can see why when you stroll round its beautifully manicured grounds.

There are 32 rooms scattered between the restored Cotswold farmhouse, lodge, a series of outbuildings and cottages.

The adjacent farm supplies food for the estate-to-plate menu, served in the enormous, beamed Ox Barn (be sure to have a drink in The Baa bar beforehand, with its cute sheep stools). Everything has been beautifully designed by owner Caryn Hibbert. Expect sheepskin rugs on Scandi-style chairs and country-chic rooms in botanical colours.

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There’s an outdoor pool, garden spa, cookery school and, to complete the picture, the hotel’s own pub, The Swan, across the road. No children under 12 are allowed.

B&B costs from £420 per night (thyme.co.uk).

Buckland Manor near Broadway has 15 elegant bedrooms (one of which is pictured), an oak-panelled drawing room and soft armchairs to sink into around the fireplace

Buckland Manor near Broadway has 15 elegant bedrooms (one of which is pictured), an oak-panelled drawing room and soft armchairs to sink into around the fireplace

Buckland Manor is the kind of place you feel instantly at home in, which explains the high number of repeat guests

Buckland Manor is the kind of place you feel instantly at home in, which explains the high number of repeat guests

For a more traditional stay, check out Buckland Manor near Broadway. 

In ten acres next to the old village church, it has 15 elegant bedrooms, an oak-panelled drawing room and soft armchairs to sink into around the fireplace – the kind of place you feel instantly at home in, which explains the high number of repeat guests.

B&B costs from £310 per night (bucklandmanor.co.uk).

FAMILY-FRIENDLY HOTELS 

Children can explore some of the 500-acre Lucknam Park estate (pictured) on the hotel¿s horses

Children can explore some of the 500-acre Lucknam Park estate (pictured) on the hotel’s horses 

Lucknam has 43 elegant rooms and six cottages. Room-only doubles cost from £375 per night

Lucknam has 43 elegant rooms and six cottages. Room-only doubles cost from £375 per night  

Picture perfect: Pay a visit to the pretty Cotswold village of Castle Combe, pictured, during your stay at Lucknam Park, which is a short drive away

Picture perfect: Pay a visit to the pretty Cotswold village of Castle Combe, pictured, during your stay at Lucknam Park, which is a short drive away 

Children can roam some of the 500-acre estate at Lucknam Park on the hotel’s 35 horses. Or brush up on skills in the equestrian centre and try their hand at show jumping.

But you don’t have to love horses to appreciate the Palladian mansion near Bath, which has 43 elegant rooms and six cottages. Eat in the Michelin-starred restaurant or less formally in the brasserie, chill out in the spa and follow the outdoor sculpture trail. You can even get little ones to try duck herding.

Room-only doubles cost from £375 per night (lucknampark.com).

Families will enjoy relaxing by Ellenborough Park's outdoor pool (pictured) and exploring the surrounding estate, which lies near Cheltenham racecourse

Families will enjoy relaxing by Ellenborough Park’s outdoor pool (pictured) and exploring the surrounding estate, which lies near Cheltenham racecourse

Ellenborough Park has 61 rooms, some with their own outside space

Ellenborough Park has 61 rooms, some with their own outside space

Not far from Cheltenham racecourse, Ellenborough Park has plenty of family-friendly activities. 

As well as an outdoor pool, there are bikes and boots to borrow to explore the estate surrounding the 15th Century manor house.

Adults can disappear to the spa and check out the Taittinger Terrace. Eat in the Cedar pavilion tent, a quirky outdoor dining ‘carriage’ or in the historic wood-panelled Great Hall. Some of the 61 rooms have their own outside space.

B&B costs from £299 per night (ellenboroughpark.com).

For multi-gen breaks, Calcot & Spa near Tetbury has an Ofsted-registered creche as well as kids’ clubs, with two hours of complimentary childcare a day.

 The spa, with a 16m indoor pool, has special times for family swims, and there’s a heated outdoor pool, too, while the relaxed Conservatory restaurant and Gumstool Inn are refreshingly unstuffy places to eat.

Calcot & Spa's spa, with a 16m indoor pool (above), has special times for family swims. The hotel is based near Tetbury

Calcot & Spa’s spa, with a 16m indoor pool (above), has special times for family swims. The hotel is based near Tetbury

The spa, with a 16m indoor pool, has special times for family swims, and there’s a heated outdoor pool, too, while the relaxed Conservatory restaurant and Gumstool Inn are refreshingly unstuffy places to eat.

B&B costs from £354 per night, family rooms from £494 per night (calcot.co).

Or just on the edge of the Cotswolds, Woolley Grange in Bradford-on-Avon has a superb offering for both parents and kids.

Woolley Grange, pictured, in Bradford-on-Avon offers lots to do outdoors for both children and parents

Woolley Grange, pictured, in Bradford-on-Avon offers lots to do outdoors for both children and parents 

Children can explore the fairy garden, collect hens’ eggs, swim in the family pool or enjoy sessions in the creche. 

Adults can be spoilt in the spa, then, after an early children’s tea, spend some alone time with candlelit dining while the kids are monitored by the baby-listening service.

B&B in a family room for four costs from £350 per night (woolleygrangehotel.co.uk).

FOODIE FAVOURITES 

Gourmands will love The Painswick, near Stroud, where head chef Jamie McCallum serves a six-course tasting menu twice a week

Gourmands will love The Painswick, near Stroud, where head chef Jamie McCallum serves a six-course tasting menu twice a week 

The Painswick is home to 17 sophisticated bedrooms, some with superb views over the Slad Valley

The Painswick is home to 17 sophisticated bedrooms, some with superb views over the Slad Valley

Foodies should make a beeline to The Painswick, near Stroud, where head chef Jamie McCallum serves a six-course tasting menu on Wednesdays and Thursdays which includes loin of Cotswold venison and truffle shaved over pumpkin agnolotti.

The Palladian mansion is home to 17 sophisticated bedrooms, some with superb views over the Slad Valley. Breakfast features Jamie’s own sourdough.

B&B costs from £200 per night, with the tasting menu £75pp (thepainswick.co.uk).

For a good-value break with top-notch food take a look at Burleigh Court, near Minchinhampton. 

Burleigh Court, near Minchinhampton, serves up seasonal menus that have been sourced from within a 35-mile radius

Burleigh Court, near Minchinhampton, serves up seasonal menus that have been sourced from within a 35-mile radius

Burleigh Court is ideal for a good-value break with top-notch food - a two-course meal costs £32 per person

Burleigh Court is ideal for a good-value break with top-notch food – a two-course meal costs £32 per person 

The 18-room listed manor has panoramic views across Gloucestershire’s Golden Valley, and its seasonal menus are sourced from within a 35-mile radius, with a two-course meal costing £32pp.

Foodie fans can also book a foraging experience, and after a day’s exploring can enjoy a drink featuring honey from the Burleigh bees.

B&B costs from £139 per night (burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk).

THE ESTATE WITH THREE HOTELS… AND AXE THROWING 

The 400-acre Farncombe Estate near Broadway is home to three hotels, including The Fish hotel (above), which is a destination for the young and young at heart

The 400-acre Farncombe Estate near Broadway is home to three hotels, including The Fish hotel (above), which is a destination for the young and young at heart

Take a dip in one of The Fish hotel's private outdoor hot tubs, pictured above

Take a dip in one of The Fish hotel’s private outdoor hot tubs, pictured above 

A beautiful seafood dish at The Fish hotel

A beautiful seafood dish at The Fish hotel 

Whichever of the three hotels you check into at the dog-friendly 400-acre Farncombe Estate near Broadway, you can book the onsite activities, from axe throwing and archery to clay-pigeon shooting and falconry. 

There is even the option to pilot a hovercraft around a grass track.

The Fish hotel is for the young and young at heart. Pick from the Hilly Huts, with sofas, wood burners and private outdoor hot tubs, or the larger Hideaway Huts, the best of which comes with its own private lake and rowing boat. 

The treehouses sleep a family of four and have two wooden baths on the decking area.

B&B costs from £175 per night, huts from £285 per night and treehouses from £459 per night (thefishhotel.co.uk). 

There is more of a farmhouse feel at Dormy House. Some of the 39 bedrooms come with vaulted ceilings and exposed oak beams. 

Downstairs, as well as a rustic bar, there is a garden restaurant and MO, a tasting restaurant for just 12 guests.

The sleek spa screams romance, with an outdoor hot tub lit by candles and firelight, an infinity pool and a therapy room for two. B&B costs from £309 per night (dormyhouse.co.uk). 

Farmhouse feel: Some of the 39 bedrooms at Dormy House, which also lies on the Farncombe Estate, come with vaulted ceilings and exposed oak beams

Farmhouse feel: Some of the 39 bedrooms at Dormy House, which also lies on the Farncombe Estate, come with vaulted ceilings and exposed oak beams

Dormy House's sleek spa 'screams romance'. Bed and breakfast at the hotel costs from £309 per night

Dormy House’s sleek spa ‘screams romance’. Bed and breakfast at the hotel costs from £309 per night

One of the eight exclusive rooms at the adult-only Foxhill Manor on the Farncombe Estate

One of the eight exclusive rooms at the adult-only Foxhill Manor on the Farncombe Estate

Soak in the twin tubs in the Oak Suite at Foxhill Manor

Soak in the twin tubs in the Oak Suite at Foxhill Manor

Even more exclusive is Foxhill Manor, with just eight rooms where adult-only guests are looked after by personal hosts.

Create a bespoke menu with the chef, then retire to soak in the twin tubs in the Oak Suite. Unlimited champagne is available.

B&B costs from £609 per night, or all-inclusive doubles from £759 per night (foxhillmanor.com).

BREAKS TO SUIT YOUR BUDGET – HOTELS WITH SISTER INNS 

The 17th Century Slaughters Manor House in the pretty village of Lower Slaughter has a boutique hotel feel. Pictured is the stylish cocktail lounge

The 17th Century Slaughters Manor House in the pretty village of Lower Slaughter has a boutique hotel feel. Pictured is the stylish cocktail lounge 

The Garden Suite at Slaughters Manor House

The Garden Suite at Slaughters Manor House

Pick a stay to suit your budget in the pretty village of Lower Slaughter, where Andrew Brownsword Hotels owns both the manor house and country inn.

The 17th Century Slaughters Manor House has a boutique hotel feel, with the grey-and-tan public rooms featuring splashes of pink and modern art. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the cocktail room, with dusty pink velvet chairs around a circular glass, brass and leather bar.

The bedrooms feel more traditional, though, so if you want to sleep somewhere hip, take a look at The Slaughters Inn, which has a younger vibe.

Wherever you stay, you can eat in the pub, perhaps sharing a platter of cheese and meats on a terrace that runs down to the river, or at the manor, where you can book a formal meal in the dining room, or take a hamper to share in the five acres of landscaped gardens. B&B from £285 per night at the manor (slaughtersmanor.co.uk) and from £175 per night at the inn (theslaughtersinn.co.uk).

Share a platter of cheese and meats on the terrace that runs down to the river at The Slaughters Inn, pictured

Share a platter of cheese and meats on the terrace that runs down to the river at The Slaughters Inn, pictured 

Bed and breakfast is priced from £175 per night at the 'hip' Slaughters Inn

Bed and breakfast is priced from £175 per night at the ‘hip’ Slaughters Inn

A similar set-up exists at Barnsley House, four miles from Cirencester. Here you can either check into one of the contemporary rooms in the 17th Century hotel proper and eat in its dining room, or stay in one of the half a dozen cosy rooms in sister property the Village Pub, across the road.

Either way, you will be able to explore the grounds of Barnsley House, including its showstopping laburnum walk and a kitchen garden that supplies much of the hotel’s produce.

B&B costs from £199 per night in the pub and from £439 per night at the hotel (barnsleyhouse.com).

Explore the beautiful grounds of historic Barnsley House, pictured, including its kitchen garden, which supplies much of the hotel¿s produce

Explore the beautiful grounds of historic Barnsley House, pictured, including its kitchen garden, which supplies much of the hotel’s produce

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