1st November, 2016
Here at The Carter Company, one of our favourite things to do is scout out hotels. We're a picky bunch when it comes to choosing accommodation for our tours, and our search criteria are very specific. First of all, the hotel has to be in a great location - and by that we mean it's possible to walk out of the front door into the local town/city without having to work up too much of a sweat. Secondly, the place has to have character: we don't go in for Hilton-style homogenous modern monoliths, even if they are billed as 'luxury'. Thirdly (and most importantly) the hotel has to stand for real quality - in its rooms, its food and its service. So without further ado, here are our top 5 Cotswold hotels:
Foxhill Manor in Broadway is the newest addition to the list of hotels in the area and already in our top 5. A private manor-house hotel with genuinely personal service, it offers lovely views down to the village of Broadway. The building is classic Cotswolds - a gorgeous Grade-II listed Arts and Crafts country home, which has been modernised in excellent taste. The Sunday Times even named it their Hotel of the Year 2015.
Lords of The Manor in Upper Slaughter was recently named ‘Country House Hotel of the Year’ by Good Hotel Guide. Located in the utterly picturesque Upper Slaughter, it’s also not far from the popular Cotswold towns such of Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold. Boasting the only Michelin starred hotel restaurant in Gloucestershire and lovely gardens, it’s an all round delight.
Barnsley House in Bibury. Everyone knows Bibury for its famous Weavers’ Cottages - supposedly the most photographed site in the Cotswolds - but it is also a stone's throw from Barnsley House, situated in Barnsley village. This hotel is seriously luxury, but in a characterful way (the absolute opposite of anonymous international hotel chains). It has a well reputed spa, a private cinema, fab staff and even a kitchen garden, where they grow their own produce to serve in the restaurant.
Whatley Manor in Malmesbury - which amusingly appears on old maps as ‘Twatley Manor’ (!) - has a big reputation for food, with two restaurants and two bars. The food, by Michelin two-starred chef Martin Burge, is described as classical French with a modern twist. The interior feels like an English country home, and of course they have the requisite resplendent gardens and private cinema.
Le Manoir outside of Oxford. Saving the best ’til last? Very possibly. Raymond Blanc’s hotel (see pic above) is a real triumph and a total treat. We love how all the rooms are individually designed with a different theme - from the French ‘Lace’ to the old-Asian ‘Lemongrass’ and the utterly beautiful restored Dovecote. The gardens are idyllic; wander around and you’ll find giant vegetables growing in a greenhouse and at the very bottoms, an unexpected Japanese water garden complete with a little thatched tea house! Obviously it goes without saying that the gastronomic experience here is second to none. The restaurant has held 2 Michelin stars since opening in 1984.