With everything going on this year, it was time for a bit of a reset. Due to obvious reasons, I’ve had the opportunity to see more closer to home here in the UK. The Cotswolds were always a must-do on my endless list of places to visit, so I jumped at the chance to book a quick weekend staycation when domestic travel restrictions were lifted earlier this year.
I’ll have to admit, this year has been particularly rough. I’m not saying I’ve had it the worst by any means, I still have work, a roof on my head and my health. But the impact of lockdown in the UK was starting to take its toll on my mindset. I felt trapped in our flat in London and so out of control of my own life. I needed a pick-me-up and a chance to relax.
The Cotswolds are a fairytale come to life. They are like stepping into your favourite storybook from childhood or into the film The Holiday (although unfortunately no Jude Law). This collection of quaint and charming villages are the perfect place for a couples retreat, girl time or just an excuse for some rest and relaxation. Exactly what I needed after months of quarantine.
I imagined country walks through flower fields, drinking glasses of red wine by the fire, snuggling up with Danny and eating my way through a cheese board and roast dinner and I am very happy to report I got exactly that.
So, while we enter what looks like will be the second wave of this hideous virus, this short weekend guide might be helpful in planning your own staycation to the Cotswolds – enjoy!
Where to go
All of the villages in the Cotswolds are lovely, and have the same sort of look and feel. The variation happens in their size and how built up for tourists they are. Castle Combe for example, was very small with not many shops or hotels, but very pretty and popular. While Bourton-on-Water seemed more fit for weekenders, had more amenities but therefore loads of people. I’d recommend researching the villages before you go, see how many pubs there are (very important), if there are walks nearby, and if theres a train station close by – usually an indication of how busy it will be.
My favourites from the villages we went to were; Castle Combe, Bilbury, Chipping Camden and Ebrington.
How to get around
When travelling to the Cotswolds, I highly recommend driving. The Cotswolds are not a single place, rather what is called an area of natural beauty (AONB) within England. There is public transport but it is not as easy to get around there as it is in say, London. We drove from London to the Cotswolds in 2.5hrs and hired our car on the app TURO which is a similar concept to Airbnb.
Where to stay
I was keen to get a classic British experience during our time in the Cotswolds, so I felt the perfect place to stay was a quintessential English pub. We stayed in one of the rooms at The White Hart, just outside of Castle Combe in Chippenham, Wiltshire. I loved this experience as the pub was still authentically preserved and I felt immersed in the quaint and cosy vibe. If the pub life isn’t for you though, there are plenty of stays on Airbnb or on speciality websites like Kip hideaways.
What to do
To be honest, if you’re looking for a place to go and see and do a lot, the Cotswolds may not be the place for you. I recall Danny and I went on one country walk, where we got absolutely soaked and therefore spent the rest of the weekend eating, drinking, napping, having baths and generally chilled. Relaxation is the vibe in the Cotswolds, do nothing and love every minute of it.