I like to think that I’m not very picky. Give me cotton sheets over silk, custard over creme brûlée, or cava over champagne and I’ll be just as happy. And, until last weekend, I would have chosen a trip abroad over a staycation in a heartbeat. Yet, last weekend changed all of that.
It was only my staycation in the Cotswolds that made me realise that I hadn’t yet witnessed true luxury. In fact, last weekend was very special indeed. Tim and I treated ourselves to a luxury location, a luxury place to rest our heads, a luxury car, and I honestly don’t think we’ve ever eaten better in our lives… Let me tell you more.
The Cotswolds is an area of outstanding natural beauty, spanning 6 counties in the west of England. It is known for its rolling hills, quaint little villages and farmland, and visitors flock in their millions to visit it every year. It’s also home to magnificent country hotels, private mansions and .. We certainly felt like we were in the right place for our luxury weekend away!
Our hotel was set in the outskirts of Evesham, a small market town to the north of the Cotswolds, but we didn’t actually visit the town itself. The view out across the hills from our hotel window was treat enough, and we had our fair share of pretty market towns, with visits planned to Bourton-on-the-Water, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-in-the-Wold. Side note: I have no idea why so many towns around here have long, hyphenated names, but there’s something quite luxurious about it, isn’t there? They’re even trying to make Staines sound a bit more upmarket by changing its name to Staines-upon-Thames, but unfortunately it just doesn’t have the same ring to it!
Bourton-on-the-Water is certainly my pick of the bunch. Characterised by its small, shallow stream running through it and little footbridges helping you cross, it’s one of the cutest and quaintest little towns I’ve ever been to. And there’s a surprising amount to do there! Get lost in the Dragonfly Maze, meet bright pink flamingos at Birdland, feel like a giant at the model village, and see hundreds of vintage cars in the Motor Museum (also home to kid’s favourite, Brum!)
See what else there is to do at Cotswolds.com
The Wood Norton is a luxury hotel set in a 19th century building that used to belong to exiled French Royalty – so it certainly has some stories to tell! There’s a variety of rooms, from standard rooms in a separate annex, to upgraded rooms and suites in the main hall. They’re all comfortable, clean and stylish with huge beds that you can just sink into. Guests can also take advantage of the bar, restaurant, gym and, my favourite, games room where we played pool until the wee hours.
The inside is beautiful, but the grounds are even better. In front of the hotel is a sweeping lawn overlooking some of the best of the Cotswolds’ scenery. To the side is a beautifully laid out garden designed by English Heritage full of rosebushes and other British classics.
The only downside of the place was the wedding that took place on Saturday night. Though they had their own private area, the guests overran the main bar as their dance floor was rolled out, yet we were the ones that felt like we were gatecrashing. I can only imagine how the poor bride felt when we rocked up in chinos and day dresses!
None of this would have been possible without Secret Escapes, where we found an incredible deal. Two night stay in an upgraded room, full English breakfast, 5 course dinner on the first night, a jug of Pimms and 25% off Afternoon Tea, all for under £250!
Check out the latest deals on secretescapes.com. I certainly will!
Probably our favourite part of the trip, and the most luxury of them all, was our transport. I was lucky enough to win a BMW i8 super car for the weekend, thanks to a last minute raffle ticket at a charity quiz night. It’s my favourite win ever, followed a close second by a year’s supply of cheese!
We felt like rock stars in that car, our bright blue hybrid turning heads at traffic lights and becoming the subject of photos in car parks. And it was an absolute dream to drive – so comfortable, light, fast… I’ve fallen totally in love.
Why not rent your own for a weekend? It’s something I think everyone should do, just once in their lifetimes.
Warning: This will make you very hungry.
The Wood Norton’s Fleur de Lys restaurant is renowned for its five course tasting menu that we were lucky enough to try. My meal of pea amuse bouche, tomato starter, quince sorbet, fish main and passion fruit souffle dessert was incredible. Everything was delicious and oh-so-beautifully decorated. If the saying is true that you eat with your eyes, I was full before even opening my mouth.
With five courses to eat, I was petrified that I would have to be removed by a stretcher, but what they don’t tell you is that the courses aren’t very big. In fact, I even ordered cheese to finish.
The next morning, I ate a vegetarian Full English Breakfast with yoghurt and pastries, and filled up on lunch at Bourton-on-the-Water. For dinner, I ordered pasta with a side of pasta at the hotel bar (yes that is most definitely double carbing). My final breakfast was scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
I haven’t eaten since.
All in all, I would thoroughly recommend a trip to The Cotswolds. It’s a beautiful and interesting place that’s well worth a visit. But if you do go, do it in style. I’ve certainly gotten a taste for the high life and I think I’ll struggle to go back to normal.
Yet, this trip gave me more than just a taste of luxury – it reminded me that you don’t have to go abroad to have a great trip. In fact, I’m already planning another UK trip and I can’t wait to take it.
Have you ever been to the Cotswolds? Do you find that a little luxury helps or hinders a trip?