Snapshot of The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds covers a huge area and has so much to offer. As you drive into Cotswolds you will notice the houses change from brick to Cotswolds golden stone making everything so much brighter and prettier. Even the plants look vibrant against this stone backdrop. The whole area is known for its rolling hills (wolds) and charming villages. Expect to find breathtaking views, tiny tea rooms, narrow streets and a lot more. I love Cotswolds because every visit is so different and there is so much to see.
Here are some of the places I have visited.
The Cotswolds is not too far from the Midlands so a perfect place for a weekend break with a drive taking 1 – 2 hours depending on where you go.
Over the August bank holiday we took a family trip down. There were few hotels available in the location we wanted that would accommodate 8 of us.
The De Vere hotel had a deal on, £120 b&b. For a bank holiday and a great location (the water park), I think this wasn’t too bad.
The staff are all friendly and doing their best to follow COVID 19 precautions. I liked the extra touch of the well-being kits they had in the rooms. At present, the pool is open only to those having a spa treatment (so over 18’s) and treatments start at £50.
We had dinner at the hotel too because they did a package for £50 extra per room (kids eat free). The food at the restaurant was average. I felt for a De Vere Hotel the standard and quality could have been better.
For breakfast, the hotel dropped off a bag with continental breakfast to the room (granola, fruit, chocolate croissant, bottles of water & juice). You could go downstairs to have a premade hot bap (sausage, egg & bacon) and make hot drinks.
There are quite a few boutique hotels in Cotswolds which are lovely however you have to book early now more than ever. The Telegraph has some great ideas.
Known for its whiskey and gin, if you are a fan, book a tour beforehand especially during peak times.
It was too late to book a tour by the time I found out about the distillery so we did not have a tour however we visited the shop and tried some of their amazing gins. Their classic one is great and my second favourite is the Bharat one.
Named the UK’s prettiest village, this is a beautiful village. Staycations have become very popular this year so expect most villages to be busy.
There is a free car park (SN14 7HU) at the top of the hill (about 10 minutes walk down). Parking in the village is very restricted and we saw several cars with parking tickets.
My nephews were hungry and we were ready for our caffeine fix. The pubs were really busy and unless you pre-booked it was hard to get a table. Also, Castle Coombe is a small village.
Luckily I had done some research beforehand and we went to the Old Stables tucked away on one of the side streets. The lovely ladies have a unit in the little industrial park. You can get sandwiches, drinks, ice cream, cakes and scones there and they have benches here too. It’s has a stray trade but it not heaving because it is just off the main road.
If I was to visit Castle Coombe again I would get there early to beat the crowds and just take in the views. Along the narrow streets, you can find a couple of cute cafes too.
Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
The Wildlife Park & Gardens is about 30 minutes drive from the water park area.
The park is beautiful, well laid out and has a lot of open space. They sell tickets 24 hours before online and they aren’t the easiest to get hold of. For some reason, we could get 6 senior tickets but not adult ones so we went with that.
The park has a good balance of gardens and wildlife. It is a perfect day out for couples and families, there is something for everyone. My favourite was the rhino paddock which is set in front of their manor and currently home to their newest baby rhino.
There is so much to see and the layout of the park means you get to see the animals in different environments and in some cases be patient until they make an appearance. A lot of H&S measures have been put in place making it a safer environment.
When we went the restaurant was not open but they had food stalls around the park however to avoid the queues it may be work taking a picnic. The park is dog friendly.
If you want to sit down and have a meal (including homemade hot food), I would recommend the Burford Garden Company which is 8 minutes drive from the wildlife centre. A more stylish garden centre with a cafe, art gallery, selection of unique home interiors and some fashion . We had some amazing food here. Hot food is served before 3pm. We had a look around the centre too and it was beautiful.
On the way home we drove passed the picturesque high street. It is definitely somewhere I will be returning.
Bourton on the Water
Known as the Venice of Cotswolds, this is another charming English village. From a model village to independent shops and restaurants this village is so cute and had also been voted for the prettiest village before. A bit like Castle Coombe it can get very busy.
We went for my birthday a couple of years and it was a great day out especially in the sunshine. I remember just taking in the scenery while dipping my feet in River Windrush.
The best thing about Cotswolds is it caters for all. Whether you want a romantic weekend away, a family day out or a dog-friendly break, you can get it here.