The Northern Cotswolds Guide

Ever since I first found out I’d be moving to London, I put the Cotswolds at the top of my travel bucket list! It’s a place I’ve always wanted to go, and after having the opportunity to go not once, but twice this past month, I fell even more in love than I thought I would with the charm of the English countryside. Everything about it is a complete dream, from the adorable thatched houses to the cobblestoned streets, and tiny villages. It’s the perfect English escape for lots of R&R, especially if you live in London and are looking for an easy getaway.

Getting here is actually SO much simpler than I thought. My roommates and I actually veto’ed a  trip here in the fall because we thought we’d need to rent a car, but even if you aren’t up for driving, getting here from London is super convenient!

TRAIN: The Cotswolds are actually comprised of many towns and villages over a vast country area, but depending on which area you’re heading to, there’s a good chance you can take the train! To get to Kingham, we took the GWR from London’s Paddington station and were in the Cotswolds in about an hour and 50 minutes. We stayed at the Wild Rabbit Inn (which I 100% recommend — more about that below!) and their house car picked us up and brought us back to the property from the train station, conveniently about a mile away! Tickets are around £26.50 (more or less depending on your time of travel) and trains run several times throughout the day!

DRIVER: If you’re looking to get to the Cotswolds you can also hire a driver. This is a bit pricier, with rides from central London costing around £180, but my family and I did this during my first trip to the country, and it was a convenient door-to-door option to avoid the hassles of travel after their long international flight. We used CJP TOURS  and were really happy with the experience.  Chris, the owner, took us to and from London and also drove us around many of the nearby towns/villages during a northern Cotswolds day tour. This option is ideal if you’re truly wanting to get a lay of the land and see several Cotswold areas without actually driving.

If anything, I’d recommend taking the train there, then arranging a day tour with a driver upon arrival. There are A LOT of towns to see, so keep in mind you will be on a tighter agenda and spend a lot of time in the car if you go this route.

RENTAL CAR: Another option to travel from town to town is renting a car. Again, I’d take the train there, then rent one upon arrival. Many rental services in the area actually deliver the car to your hotel, making the travel process even more convenient. If you or your travel partner are comfortable driving on the left side, I definitely recommend renting a car if you’re here more than one night. You miss out on having a guide tell you about each area, but have the benefit of being completely on your own schedule, spending as much or as little time in each area that you desire.

TAXI: Everything is quite spread out in the Cotswolds, so if you don’t have a car and aren’t wanting to walk, plan on booking a taxi to get to and from your desired location. This is perfect to get around if you’re only here for a night, but if you plan on staying longer consider renting a car as taxis add up. They’re about £15 per trip, even traveling just a few miles, and must be booked in advance to ensure availability.

We used Excelsior Taxis and were extremely happy with our experience!  | +44 (01) 608643721 or +44 (01) 608 644015

Being able to experience the Cotswolds a couple of times, definitely came with the advantage of scoping out a few areas. Depending on the type of trip you’re after — seeing a lot of towns or sticking to one area and enjoying R&R — there are several charming properties to pick from!

WILD RABBIT INN– This is one of those properties that makes you want to visit the Cotswolds just so you can stay here! It’s cozy, charming, inviting, and completely unpretentious. I stayed here during my second trip to the Cotswolds and it was the PERFECT place to spend a night for a little dose of rest and relaxation. Breakfast is included, and beyond delicious — most of the menu is sourced from Daylesford Farm just down the road. The property itself is quite quaint, with a bar, two fireplaces and “living room” area, but the decor and vibe is everything you’d want from a quintessentially English inn. The property provides wellies and bicycles to enjoy during your stay and offers a delicious menu at set times from breakfast through dinner. I’m sure there are many other charming places throughout the Cotswolds, but I definitely recommend staying here! It is quite small so book in advance, or change your travel dates so you can be sure to get a room!

Soho Farmhouse – Soho House is another property that gets a lot of insta-hype. If you’re a Soho member, It’s definitely worth visiting, and I’m sure an absolute dream! (Their policy has changed a bit but non-members have been formerly able to visit during WEEKDAYS ONLY. I’d CONTACT the property HERE, and see what your best options are.

CHIPPING CAMDEN- If the Wild Rabbit is sold out like it was during our first travel dates, or if you’re looking for another option, I also recommend Chipping Camden. My family and I stayed at the Cotswold House Hotel over the Holiday break, and while I certainly preferred the English charm of the Wild Rabbit Inn, this hotel was extremely convenient and central to other towns. As far as sizing, Chipping Camden is a bit bigger than Kingham offering a few more restaurant selections and shops. Again it depends on your type of trip, but if you’re interested in branching out more, this is a great central option.

OTHERS: THYME | Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons | Barnsley House & Spa | Lords of the Manor | The Kingham Plough Inn & Pub

DAYLESFORD FARM: Anyone visiting the Cotswolds MUST add Daylesford farm on their list. Those traveling from London may have been to one of their restaurants, but this is the original farm where everything is grown! They have multiple delicious restaurants, a food market, shop, and offer cooking classes if you have extra time! (If you’re traveling in a larger group I’d look into their lodging options here! It’s a sister property to the Wild Rabbit, and equally as charming!)

*** If you’re staying at the Wild Rabbit, take the back trail that passes by the farmland and free-range chickens and take a peek into their egg barn, salmon smokery, and bee room.

HORSEBACK RIDING: While staying in Kingham, we wanted to take advantage and see the country from a fresh perspective. Regardless of the rain, we booked an hour-long Horseback ride through the country, something I really enjoyed! We used COTSWOLD RIDING at Durham Farm, which cost $35 for the hour. I’m sure there are other horse rides in the area, but I definitely recommend this place if you’re staying at the Wild Rabbit. It’s nothing fancy, just a family run barn, but if you love horses it’s a memorable experience.

BAMFORD SPA: For a true R&R experience I definitely recommend the Bamford Spa. Unfortunately, we didn’t book ahead and they were fully booked for new years day, but I did enjoy reading my book in their tranquil sitting room.

SHOOTING: Depending on the season, especially in the fall, I’d recommend looking into visiting a property for an afternoon of clay pigeon shooting.

As I mentioned before there are loads of towns within the Cotswolds. While my second trip was geared more towards staying in one zone and relaxing, my first time to the Cotswolds was all about seeing many of the areas and exploring. If you have a car or are able to branch out for some exploring, here were some of my favorite places we visited in the Northern region of the Cotswolds:

BIBURY — ARLINGTON ROW

 This is known as one of the most photographed places in the Cotswolds. With the famous “Arlington Row” it’s definitely worth the stroll along the footpaths and several pictures. (Pictured Above)

CHIPPING CAMPDEN

 As I mentioned, this is the town I stayed in during my first trip to the Cotswolds. I’d have to say it’s probably one of my favorites. It’s quite small, but has adorable little shops to pop in and out of and a few delicious restaurants that I definitely recommend enjoying! (Pictured Above)

EIGHT BELLS: If you’re in the area for dinner, I definitely recommend making a booking at Eight Bells for dinner. The food and ambiance were both very enjoyable, and the sticky toffee pudding is out of this world!

HUXLEYS: W had dinner here during our last night in the Cotswolds, and loved everything about it! The decor is really cosy and the food is delicious! It’s right in the middle of town, super convenient to get to if you’re in the area.

THE SLAUGHTERS (Wetlands)

We didn’t spend a ton of time here, although it certainly left an impression. I LOVED the charming cottages right up next to the water. We were told there are a few beautiful properties to stay at in the area, and it is worth a stroll around if you have a driver or car. (Pictured Above)

STOW IN THE WOLD

Stow in the Wold stood out to me because it felt the most like a town than any of the other areas. I definitely recommend coming here if you’re trying to narrow down your options. (Pictured Above)

St. Edwards Church: While the history of this town is actually quite sad, St.Edwards church is beautiful and has a stunning tree-framed door that is said to have inspired Middle Earth

Huffkins: If you’re needing an afternoon pick-me-up, be sure to pop in here for tea, coffee, or pastries!

The King’s Arms: This also happens to be a hotel, like many pubs/dining houses in the Cotswold area, but makes for a good option if you’re needing to grab a pint or bite.

BARNSLEY

The area of town is especially charming! We happened to be visiting during a rare occurrence of snow, but there are several walking trails nearby to soak in the bridges, houses, and gardens.

The Village Pub: This was one of my most memorable meals from the trip. The inside is super cozy and the food absolutely delicious. Although be sure to make a booking, as every restaurant usually is booked up! (Pictured Above)

SNOWSHILL

This is another area we passed that conveniently happened to be covered completely in snow! We didn’t spend a ton of time here, but I’m excited to return in the spring and soak in the lavender Fields — something worth adding to your list if you’re here in the spring! (Pictured Above)

KINGHAM

With the Wild Rabbit and Daylesford Farm, this area definitely stands out and is worth staying in or visiting. The town itself is quite quaint, but have several adorable thatched roof houses, a few shops, a beautiful church, and miles and miles of walking trails to enjoy during beautiful weather. (Pictured Above)

The Plough– Also an inn, this pub is super warm and welcoming making it the perfect spot to grab a bite in Kingham inanition to the Wild Rabbit and Daylesford.

The Wild Rabbit – The food here is exceptional! If you aren’t staying but want to enjoy the ambiance, I’d recommend making a booking and enjoying it for dinner!

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BOURTON ON THE WATER: Known as “Little Venice” this is one of the bigger towns in the Northern Cotswold regions, with several shops, bridges, and restaurant choices. Our guide depicted it as a bit more touristy, which you’ll pick up on from the types of shops and signs that are in the area, but all in all, I thought it was adorable and definitely worth a visit!

BROADWAY: We ended our day tour of the Cotswolds in Broadway, a larger, inviting town in the Cotswolds. It’s extremely charming, especially in the evening lit up, and has a few pubs, restaurants, and many quaint shops.

BLENHEIM PALACE: Lastly, I’d definitely recommend setting aside time to tour Blenheim palace if you’re wanting to do and see it all. It’s the birthplace and family home of Sir Winston Churchill and one of the country’s most magnificent sights!

Overall, I really couldn’t recommend the Cotswolds enough. I think I preferred my second trip slightly more, simply because we were entirely on our own agenda and enjoyed the scenery at a leisurely pace, however, I can’t wait to go back, perhaps renting a car next time, and experience the springtime and southern areas for more English charm and relaxation!

xx Erica


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