A Detox and Retox at the Cotswold House and Spa:
Many tourists visiting England complete our version of the Golden Triangle; London, Oxford, and Stratford Upon Avon. Whilst each of these has a huge variety of stunning locations, hotels, restaurants, and sights, it’s rather a shame to hurtle through Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire without taking some time to appreciate the quintessential Englishness of the Cotswolds. There you will find villages and small towns containing buildings constructed in golden stone, many with thatches. It’s the townie’s dream to live somewhere like this, and we spend a lot of time looking yearningly at Estate Agents’ window displays. We were therefore thrilled to be invited to review the Cotswold House Hotel and Spa in lovely Chipping Campden.
The hotel is situated centrally in the town and is as rather imposing.
It’s also rather deceptive, having beautiful gardens to the rear which lead to the spa. I can just imagine sitting here with one of their rather fabulous G&Ts in hand on a warm day.
We had a horrible drive from London on Friday evening; the rain was torrential all the way, and the M25 like a car park at times. It was therefore with a huge sense of relief that we arrived and were shown to our lovely room at the back of the hotel. As well as a huge bed, a roaring fire welcomed us, and a comfortable seating area where we could relax. I loved the little touches such as a jar of home-made biscuits, and a proper teapot. The bathroom was huge with a lovely bath that we could both get into, and we did (maybe less of that!), twin sinks, and a large shower. I loved the Orla Kiely toiletries that were provided, these really did smell divine.
After unwinding in a hot bath, we made our way to the prettily decorated casual dining bistro where we both enjoyed a Cotswold G&T whilst pondering our meal selection. I thought that the food we enjoyed was excellent for a casual dining situation. Everything we had was perfectly cooked, from my sweet Cornish Mussels to my Halibut, and Alex’s Lamb Chops. This really was a notch or two above bistro comfort food, and it felt far more relaxed than many hotel restaurants.
After a great night’s sleep in that huge bed, we headed to breakfast, where the star of the show for me, was the smoked haddock served with poached eggs, spinach, and a truly delicious hollandaise.
Feeling the pounds about to pile on, we thought it a good idea to go for a walk. We strolled through the hotel garden first and admired our room from the back, wishing that the weather was warmer so that we could sit on that little balcony and enjoy the view of the gardens.
We’d noticed from the wine list the previous evening that there was a vineyard nearby. We’re big fans of English wines, so this was too good an opportunity to miss. We walked through the town, visiting the craft fair, and popped into various shops, before completing the walk to the vineyard. Set on only a hectare of land, this little vineyard started up in 2005, and is now producing still white and sparkling wine. The owner was very knowledgeable and gave us a lot of tips about how to prune the vine in our garden, as well as explaining about how his vines can be grown higher from the ground than those in hotter climates. It seems that our long days in English summers are the key to the grapes’ success rather than temperature. We enjoyed sampling a couple of vintages with him, made friends with his dog, and left with a couple of bottles purchased.
We then drove to the Cotswold Gin Distillery having enjoyed the previous evenings’ drink, did a little more sampling, and left there with a bottle or two!
Feeling that a bit of an alcoholic theme was emerging, it seemed a great idea to vary the pace and to visit the Rollright stones, an ancient standing circle. Nothing like the scale of Stonehenge, these are none-the-less amazing, and a very atmospheric place to visit when there’s no-one else about (I do like travelling off-season for this reason).
We then returned to the hotel to be treated to afternoon tea served in the more formal dining space, Fig. The hot plain and fruit scones were the stars of the show for me, and for the record, I’m in favour of jam first, cream second. I enjoyed mine with an Emerald Dragon Ooolong and Alex opted for the Mighty Assam, which we both enjoyed respectively.
After another stroll and a little nap, we got ready for dinner at Fig. It wasn’t as busy as we expected, but I think this could have been a function of Mothering Sunday falling the next day, and people waiting to either treat their mums to afternoon tea or dinner the following day. It certainly was no reflection on the quality of the food which is French style using English ingredients. We started with homemade sourdough served with both butter and beef dripping, accompanied by a dainty amuse bouche of chicken terrine.
I’d ordered scallops, and absolutely loved the contrast between the Jerusalem artichoke puree and the tart-tasting shards of forced rhubarb and the nicely caramelised scallops. Oxtail is a meat that I associate with hearty soups or stews, but Alex’s served with a smoked potato foam took this to a much more refined level.
I opted for duck with red cabbage and a carrot and liquorice puree for my main, whilst Alex chose the pork fillet with fondant potatoes, squash puree and curly kale. Both our meats were cooked to the point of pinkness that we enjoy, in fact, you could have cut my duck with a spoon it was so beautifully tender. The crispy cabbage leaf with my duck was delicious too – a little like fried seaweed in Chinese restaurants (which we all know is really cabbage).
We were then given a pre-dessert of coffee creme brulee. I was impressed with the cheese board, all English, and all local cheeses, whilst Alex opted for pear mousse. The cheeses I chose were Rollright, Beauvale, Hereford Hop, and Berkswell.
After breakfast the following day we set off to Blenheim Place about a 40-minute drive away, the hotel had booked the tickets for us which made everything really easy. I’ve driven past it many times, but this was the first time of visiting. The sheer scale and grandeur of the building, its content, the gardens and the grounds are all breath-taking. This is well worth a visit, please do allow plenty of time though.
There is also the spa at the hotel which is available to guests which looked lovely; along with a wide range of treatments for both women and men. I would advise booking ahead if you do want a treatment though, as there wasn’t any availability the weekend we visited.
This was a perfect weekend break away from London. From shopping to sight-seeing, to fantastic local food and drink, there really is a lot to explore from a base at the Cotswold House Hotel. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Cotswold House Hotel and I’m sure it will be a contender when we do the 2018 list of top UK boutique hotels!
Cotswold House Hotel and Spa is a member of Signpost Hotels.
Signpost has been recommending the UK’s top privately owned hotels since 1935. All Signpost members are visited every year, to make sure top standards are maintained. Most are near areas of outstanding beauty with plenty to do or see in the area; many are hidden gems, all have award-winning cuisine. For more details and to receive news about great hotel offers visit www.signpost.co.uk
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Cotswold House ,
Upper High Street,