Three Of The Best Hotels In The Cotswolds

Lower Slaughter, one of the prettiest villages in the CotswoldsJoanne Shurvell

Characterised by quaint villages with honey-colored stone cottages and rolling green hills (the “wolds”) and covering 800 square miles, the Cotswolds is one of England’s largest and most popular areas to visit. There are hundreds of lovely places to stay but here are three of my favorites, each within two hours by train from London.

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The courtyard suites at The Lygon Arms in Broadway, the CotswoldsJoanne Shurvell

1. We knew we were in for a treat at the The Lygon Arms in the village of Broadway because the hotel is part of the Iconic Luxury Hotels group that includes the glorious Cliveden House in Berkshire and New Forest favorite, Chewton Glen in Hampshire. The Lygon Arms is located right on the high street of Broadway, one of the most popular villages in the Cotswolds which is very handy if you’re keen to explore the cute shops and tearooms. There are also countryside walking paths right on the doorstep. Tourist pursuits aside, this recently renovated hotel offers a lovely English countryside escape with cozy, characterful rooms with antiques and fireplaces, a great restaurant and bar and a spa with a swimming pool.

The King Charles I suite at The Lygon Arms, BroadwayJoanne Shurvell

The 86 bedrooms at The Lygon Arms are stylish and comfortable, decorated in tartan and warm colours. Most of the rooms are in the main building, accessed via ancient wooden stairs. There are also 13 large rooms in the courtyard cottages and 31 rooms in two modern buildings. We stayed in an airy, open plan courtyard suite with its own little terrace. Although having a more contemporary feel with wide screen TVs and Nespresso machines, in a nod to the historic main building, the suites also include original antiques.

The bar at The Lygon Arms, BroadwayJoanne Shurvell

This former Tudor coaching inn has a fascinating history dating back to the 13th century with an impressive lineup of guests including King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, although not, of course, at the same time. In modern times, Prince Phillip, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor plus countless other movie stars and politicians stayed here. The suites where Oliver Cromwell and King Charles I slept are still intact and available to stay in. In the King Charles I suite, the King’s coat of arms over the fireplace includes a faceless lion, as the face was presumably removed by Cromwell’s people. The Cromwell suite is where Oliver Cromwell slept the night before the final fight of the English Civil War, the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The glorious dining room at The Lygon Arms, BroadwayJoanne Shurvell

Although the main restaurant, the Lygon Bar & Grill is a grand space with vaulted ceiling, it has a relaxed, informal feel. The menu is seasonal modern British, with a focus on local ingredients. Steaks, free range roast chicken and Cotswolds lamb cutlets feature on the menu, as well as very tasty  battered cod and chips.

The back garden at The Slaughters Manor House in Lower SlaughterJoanne Shurvell

2. The Slaughters Manor House in Lower Slaughter is also oozing with history and character, especially after its careful refurbishment in 2016. Situated in one of England’s prettiest villages, this hotel, in a beautiful 17th-century building, does an excellent job of combining contemporary interiors with country charm. It’s also known for having one of the best fine dining restaurants in the Cotswolds.

A suite at The Slaughters Manor House, Lower SlaughterThe Slaughters Manor House

Named after members of the Whitmore family (who passed the Manor from generation to generation in its former existence as a family home), each guestroom has completely unique decor. There are 19 bedrooms and suites divided between the main house and the Coach House, a 1770s stable block. The rooms are generous in size with contemporary and antique furnishings. “Antoinette” in the main house has a four-poster bed, while “Valentine” in the Coach House offers a lovely fireplace, as well as its own garden area, complete with whirlpool tub.

One of the lounges at The Slaughters Manor House, Lower SlaughterThe Slaughters Manor House

The Slaughters Manor House is bursting with color in the common areas giving it the ambience of a chic, city boutique hotel. Outdoors, the five acres of gardens are beautifully landscaped and there’s a seasonal boules pitch, croquet lawn and tennis court. The picturesque village of Lower Slaughter is a short walk away. 

Grilled lobster tail with mango at The Slaughters Manor HouseThe Slaughters Manor House

The food in the restaurant, under the helm of Head Chef Nik Chappell, is imaginative and superb so it was no surprise that every table was taken on the weekday evening we dined there. The food is excellent and beautifully presented, perhaps because Nik studied fine art at the University of Derby before deciding on a culinary career. Before coming to take over the kitchen at The Slaughters Manor House, Nik held Head Chef positions at the Michelin starred restaurants L’Ortolan, in Reading and The Tudor Room in Egham. Grilled lobster tail with mango grown in Kent is a genius combination, as are artichoke with Cotswolds chicken and duck with pear and sea kale. Diners living in the Cotswolds are certainly lucky to have this chef and no doubt foodies from outside the area also have this fabulous restaurant on their radar.

The Lodge at Thyme, SouthropJoanne Shurvell

3. Thyme, in Southrop, another pretty Cotswolds village, is much more than an English countryside hotel and spa. Thyme is made up of an enclosed collection of restored historic buildings that house a restaurant and bar, hotel rooms, cottages, a spa with a swimming pool, a cookery school, extensive gardens and a tithe barn for larger events. And just down the lane is The Swan, the village pub with hearty food and drink, also owned and run by Thyme. Thyme’s highly anticipated “destination restaurant”, Ox Barn, in a restored nineteenth-century oxen barn, opened last fall and has received much praise since. The daily changing menu makes heavy use of what’s available from the vegetable garden, including pumpkin, kolrabi and beetroot. Dishes include Modern British dishes using local lamb, venison and guinea fowl.

The serene swimming pool at Thyme, Southrup, is made of black slateThyme

Thyme has 31 rooms in the Lodge, the Georgian rectory, the Farmhouse and the cottages around the courtyard. Rooms each have their own individual character and are inspired by botanical names such as Lemonbalm, Mallow and English Rose. I stayed in Pinewood, a vintage Hollywood-styled room, complete with home cinema that also features doors opening directly onto the lawn, art deco furniture and a zen-like green decor. The lodge combines antiques and vintage with modern artwork. The Pinewood room has a holographic artwork by Chris Levine of Kate Moss which seems appropriate as the model got married (to The Kills’ Jaime Hince) in Southrop village.

The Lygon Arms, High Street, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7DU  Tel: +44 (0)1386 852 255 

The Slaughters Manor House, Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire, GL54 2HP Tel: +44 (0)1451 820 456

Thyme, Southrop Manor Estate, Gloucestershire, Tel: +44 (0)1367 850 174



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