There is nothing quite so quintessentially English as a country house & the Cotswolds has these in abundance! If your dream of visiting the region includes a stay in one of these hotels then we hope today’s blog post will help you with planning your vacation. By there very nature, these hotels are set outside of major market towns, although many do have onsite restaurants getting around may be slightly trickier…however that is why it is the perfect combo if you are booking a Cotswold tour with us! Depending on what time of year you are visiting then you can expect roaring log fires, or a wander through the gardens & grounds. We have selected our local favourites to share with you. Properties where you feel as though you step over the threshold & you are transported back to an era of grandeur and elegance.
What is a Country House Hotel?
Homes that are nestled within their own land, often surrounded by gardens and grounds. These magnificent buildings harp back to days where the Lord & Lady of the Manor presided over the village, employing locals to work within the house & land. Many are located next to the village church, often with a gateway through into the church yard. Church services wouldn’t be able to start until the Lord & Lady of the house had arrived. These families had huge importance within their little kingdom, in years gone by the local Lord would decide the fate of villagers who had committed petty crimes. The houses themselves were a demonstration of the owner’s wealth & success. Positioned most prominently to be admired & revered. Within the Cotswolds the abundance of manor houses was due to the immense wealth created from the wool industry which was at its peak from the 1300’s through to the late 1600’s. As such many of these homes can date back in part several centuries. Having morphed, extended and modernised as styles changed, often these homes have been handed down from generation to generation.
The conversion of these properties into hotels has seen a new era of survival. Post World War II the attitudes of residents within the UK changed. The opportunities for employment saw a liberation of the servitude which had been an accepted part of the lives of rural communities. With generations of men lost in the war and with workforces looking for alternative work it was a struggle to keep such massive properties maintained. Many of these manors fell into disrepair or for those that had been acquisitioned as part of the war effort the original families failed to return. Hoteliers purchasing these often-monstrous building have literally saved them for generations to come. So if you fancy escaping to the country then what better way than to stay in a country house for a few days & enjoy ‘how the other half live’.
Imagine panelled walls, drawing rooms, deep armchairs set by roaring fires, sweeping staircases, rooms with fabulous views. There is something very special & very English about the country house hotel.
Our favourite Cotswold House Hotels in the Cotswolds
Purchased from Henry VIII, The Lords of the Manor Hotel; located in Upper Slaughter, was originally a much smaller property. The Slaughter family created the manor in 1649, which then passed to a nephew the Reverend Francis Witt. Staying within the same family the property was occupied by the Army during WW2. It was in 1970’s that this beautiful 26 bedroomed hotel was created. It has changed hands a few times since. The current owners, the Munir family, still use the house as a ‘second home’ & have greatly invested in the property & 8 acres of grounds to create this wonderful retreat in a secluded village near to all the major towns. Lords of the Manor is the perfect destination for guests looking for a truly enchanting getaway. If you are a foodie then you can enjoy your dining experience with a selection of accolades you will love the mouth-watering seasonal menu.
Next up we have Buckland Manor located just a few miles from Broadway. Buckland Manor has 10 acres of grounds and sits snuggly within this tiny village surrounded by wonderful walks. Unmarked by the passage of time, a warm welcome awaits in this charming property dating back to the 13thC. The land was originally owned by the Abbey of Gloucester with records going back as far as 600AD. The 15 bedrooms at Buckland Manor are luxuriously appointed and provide the highest standards of comfort, all individually furnished with antiques and fine fabrics. The onsite restaurant run by Head Chef Will Guthrie, the delicious menus feature fresh local produce from the neighbouring Vale of Evesham, affectionately known as the market garden of England.
If you love golf, why not consider a stay at Dormy House Hotel, started life as a 17thC farmhouse, filled with flagstone floors, comfy nooks, log fires & acres of land. In the 1940’s the land was purchased as a golf course, did you know the term ‘Dormy’ means an unbeatable round of golf! The property has been in the family since 1977 & has grown from strength to strength. There are two wonderful restaurants ‘The Potting Shed’ & the ‘Garden Room’. The hotel forms part of the 400-acre Farncombe Estate which also includes Foxhill Manor. This beautiful property has a stylish Arts & Crafts feel. It was once the home of WW2 hero Henry Maudslay, who was killed in action during the famous Dam Buster raids. There is an impressive driveway with sweeping views across the Vale of Evesham. This property is rented as a whole (not per room) it comes with it’s own staff who are on hand to create the stay of a lifetime. If you are travelling with friends or planning to meet up with your family then why not consider renting your very own Manor for a few nights which has three vast bedroom suites & complementary use of the spa facilities at Dormy House Hotel.
For something on a larger scale, you could consider a stay at Ettington Park If you are torn between staying in the Cotswolds or in Stratford Upon Avon, then why not base yourself half way between the two. Ettington Park is conveniently located a short drive from Shakespeare’s home town & the northern Cotswolds. This fairy-tale property even has a turret fit for Rapunzel.
Admire the neo-gothic architecture. The property, for many years was the home of one of Warwickshire’s oldest families ‘The Shirley’s’ whose family lineage dates back over a thousand years. In 1935, the mansion became a nursing home and during WW2 it was used as a camp for prisoners. Sadly a fire in 1979 did a vast amount of damage to the building and over the next few years it was left to decay. However, like a phoenix the property was resurrected in 1983, the house, was leased to the Isis Hotel Company and a restoration programme worth millions of pounds was undertaken to return the mansion to its old glory which now boasts 47 bedrooms.
Ellenborough Park occupies a wonderful position on Cleeve Hill, it opened its doors as a hotel in 1973, the current property dates back over 500 years. The earliest records of a dwelling on this site goes back to 899AD. Much of the original property has been lost, after it was partly demolished to build St Mary’s Church in nearby Prestbury. However, the current Ellenborough Park was built block by block by tenant farmer Thomas Goodman starting with the very impressive Great Hall. Marking the passing of time you will see snippets of England’s history, as the owners changed hands each added a memorial of their time like the Tudor Rose found in the stain glass in the dining room. If you wish to stay somewhere that has hosted Royalty then one of the 61 bedrooms will be the perfect choice for you.
We hope this blog has given you a few ideas on where to stay if you are looking for a country house hotel to combine with your Cotswolds tour with us. Each one is unique, with a varying style however they all share something special. They are utterly gorgeous & an indulgent way to enjoy your time in the Cotswolds. Lucy & Richard Lambert from Cotswolds Guided Tours are a local award winning tour guide company who just loves sharing the Cotswolds with visitors from around the globe. If you have enjoyed today’s post & are looking for more local insight into the region, do check out our blog every Tuesday!
Manor House, Buckland Manor.
Bedroom, Ettington Park Hotel