Visiting England and wanting to spend some time in the Cotswolds? Perhaps you have heard The Cotswolds is a fantastic slice of rural England, where you feel as though you have stepped back in time? Feeling this region may well be your perfect escape to the English countryside & wanting to spend some time here….that is great! Next you start your holiday research, where should you stay, what you should do, what not to miss. You will start to realise that The Cotswolds isn’t just one place, it is a huge area, just under 800 square miles filled with beautiful market towns & hundreds of tiny villages. It can become a bit daunting deciding where you should base yourselves. Not to worry Lucy & Richard from Cotswolds Guided Tours are here to help!
Last week we published a post on hotel recommendations in the market towns of Moreton in Marsh, Chipping Campden & Stow on the Wold. If these towns have come up in your research & you have your heart set on staying there, then head over to this blog post (click here) Today’s post focuses on great places to stay in Bourton on the Water, Burford & Broadway. Each one of these locations offers something different & we will explain more about each one throughout this blog.
Lucy & Richard run a local guided tour company, showing guests all the best places to visit throughout the Cotswold’s ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ you may have heard this term before or read it in your research. Depending on where your travelling from then the nearest thing you may have is a National Park (we have those here too). Essentially in the UK Area’s of Outstanding Natural Beauty are places that have been recognised as having a specific character, filled with recognisable property styles & a specific landscape. Most villages and market towns are within conservation areas to protect them for many years to come. This is why, when you visit you will feel as though you have stepped back in time, as though you are walking through a film set. Lucy & Richard have lived in the North Cotswolds for over 15 years. Lucy has connections to the region going back to her childhood. They just love sharing this charming region with visitors from around the world. Giving visitors a unique insight into the Cotswolds exceptional history & sharing fun facts. Plus, Lucy & Richard have designed their Cotswold tours to ensure you get to see the most famous locations, along with villages off the main tourist trail, providing you with a fabulous overview of this truly magical area.
Where does Cotswolds Guided Tours collect from?
To give our Cotswold tour guests as much flexibility as possible we have a wide area where we offer free collections. I hope this post will cover different options for you on where to stay, the price & style of the accommodation varies. We offer free collection from the following Cotswold locations, Moreton in Marsh, Stow on the Wold, Chipping Campden, Broadway, Bourton on the Water & Chipping Norton, along with the smaller villages surrounding them. We can also offer, for a small additional fee collection from, Burford, Cirencester, Cheltenham, Stratford Upon Avon, Banbury, Woodstock. This is to cover the fuel & the extra time it takes to reach you. Rest assured if you have paid for a collection, the travel time it takes to get back to the Cotswolds doesn’t come out of your tour time. Take a look at our handy map on our website to see all of our collection points
It is important to mention that none of the hotels below have sponsored us & we do not take commission from hotels…this way you can be assured that these are our favoured suggestions, not locations we are promoting because they pay us to! We always recommend checking the latest reviews to make sure the accommodation sounds right for you before booking.
Let’s take a look at where to stay in Bourton on the Water, Burford & Broadway.
Where to stay in Bourton on the Water?
Probably the most famous village in the Cotswolds & likely to be a village that many think of when planning a trip to the region. The cottages that line the river Windrush & its crystal-clear shallow waters are made up of little shops & tearooms. Occupied by the Romans & later as a farming community, this village is now aim distinctly at the tourist market. With a selection of eateries, pubs & accommodation it is well served for the thousands of visitors that return year after year.
In around 50AD the Romans were invading throughout Britain, making their mark on the landscape, Bourton on the Water took its name from the Saxon word 'burgh' meaning camp or fort & 'ton' meaning settlement. So, this was where the Romans had their camp, or more aptly their 'Fort on the Water' The area known as 'Lansdowne' was where the camp was located, over the years there have been archaeological digs. One of the best finds to date, were a collection (some 300) currency bars which dated back to 300BC & are housed in the British Museum. You may wonder why the Romans decided to set up a camp here? Well the simple answer, the land was fertile, the water rain clear, the Romans were in the process of building the 'Fosseway' a major trading route connecting the South Coast to Lincolnshire (some 188 miles) so this made Bourton on the Water a strategic importance.
Three of the main stay attractions in Bourton on the Water include The 'Motor Museum' housed in an old mill adjacent to the river on the west side of the village. A "collection of rare vehicles and classic memorabilia will give you a nostalgic glimpse into life on the road." The museum was established in 1978 by Mike Cavanagh, who had amassed an impressive collection over a period of 20 years whilst living in South Africa. On returning to the UK & finding the Old Mill up for sale, he believed this would be the perfect location to house his collection & from then the museum was borne. On the east side of the village, you will find the 'Old New Inn' and the renowned 'Model Village' this fabulous depiction of Bourton on the Water's buildings at 1/9th scale. Created from local Cotswold stone by highly skilled craftsmen it is the only Grade II listed model village in the country a replica of the buildings that existed in Bourton-on-the-Water in the 1930s. The Old New Inn, also offers (life size!) accommodation for those wishing to spend the night in the famous village. Lastly you can visit the Cotswolds Perfumery, which has been blending perfumes for over 50 years. A fabulous example of a Cotswolds entrepreneur, John Stephen's who turned his hobby into a business in 1965. In present day you can book in for perfumery courses, explore the shop & soak up the atmosphere of this oaked beamed 300 year old, Grade II listed building.
As you wander through Bourton on the Water you will note the little bridges trapezing over the River Windrush, there are 5 in total in the centre of the village. Locally the village is described as the 'Venice of the Cotswolds' (although there won't be a gondola in sight!) Over the August Bank Holiday weekend an unusual sport takes place in the river, 'Football in the Water' where two local teams compete in the freezing knee-high water. Beware on occasions it would appear that the players are just as happy to get the spectators as wet as they can, as they are to score a goal.
If Bourton on the Water sounds like a good fit for you, we would recommend considering the following options:
The Chester House hotel is centrally located in Bourton-on-the-Water. Set one road back from the River Windrush, this privately run hotel has 22 ensuite bedrooms for you to relax and unwind. The Lansdowne is an award-winning guest house located just a five-minute walk from the centre of the village. They have 14 ensuite rooms each individually decorated and the choice of double, twin, single or superior rooms for that extra special stay. Or try the Old New Inn. Dating back to 1712, this former coaching inn has recently undergone extensive refurbishment to provide eight high quality bedrooms, all ensuite, and fitting for today’s discerning traveller. There is a light and airy breakfast room, where, a locally produced and sourced menu offers great breakfasts before you depart for a day of sight-seeing. Or do consider Coombe House B&B where you are guaranteed a warm welcome from Dawn & David in this wonderful Bed & Breakfast a short walk from the centre of the village. Finally, do check out Harrington House, set back from the river down a quiet side street this impressive building has a number of rooms that have recently been refurbished a stylish escape in the form of a traditional country retreat.
Where to stay in Broadway?
Broadway is a large village, located 5 miles South East of Evesham. Broadway as its name suggested has a broad, sweeping street. It made its mark as a coaching stop & has a selection of fine inns & hotels. In 1250 the village had received a charter to host a market, essentially making Broadway a market town. However, with the fierce competition of neighbouring Chipping Campden, Broadway's market throughout the Middle Ages struggled to survive. During its hay-day in 1700-1800s it was noted that 7 (!) horse drawn coaches stopped off in Broadway for refreshment, truly a traffic jam it would seem in years gone by. The properties along the main street date back to mainly the 17th & 18th century. The opening of the London to Worcester railway line soon brought the coaching era to a close, although this line has long since gone recently the Great Western Steam Railway line has been extended to now stop in Broadway. The line, which runs from Spring to late Summer has regular steam & diesel services connecting Broadway to Cheltenham Race Course. A magical way to spend the day. The area is noted for its connection with William Morris, one of the founders of the Arts & Crafts movement. The increasing number of visitors that the original railway line brought to Broadway has continued to grow ever since & Broadway has obtained a reputation of being a 'show village'. Spend a leisurely day in Broadway, with its wonderful architecture along the High Street & fabulous residential properties in the Upper High Street, you also have a fantastic array of independent shops, tearooms, restaurants & museums. At the base of the main street, just beyond the war memorial is the large village green, turn left here and find one of our favourite Cotswolds pubs, The Crown & Trumpet. It is possible to walk out of Broadway to enjoy the handsome properties at Bury End, along with the wonderful old church of St Eadburgha (1 mile from the town) which lies at the foot of the road that leads on up to Snowshill village. At the entrance to the church yard you will find the lychgate, in memory of American artist Francis Davis Millet, who tragically died on the Titanic.
Broadway lies astride the Cotswolds way, so whether you are a walker in hiking boots, or dressed up to the nines to visit the antique shops, you will be welcomed in the wonderful village. Located 6 miles east of Chipping Campden it makes for a wonderful walk across the fields, via the iconic Broadway Tower to enjoy a day soaking up the countryside with a touch of retail therapy. You will notice as you explore Broadway there are numerous art galleries, Broadway has always appealed to artists, in 1880s a famous group of Anglo-American artists, Alfred parsons, John Singer Sargent & Edwin Abbey fell in love with Broadway. They had been keen to escape the Industrial Revolution surging throughout England & like William Morris, were inspired by the perfection of this location.
Whilst in Broadway do not miss the upper high street, with its stunning properties, as you explore you may pass Court Farm, from the 1890s this property has hosted Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers famous artists & writers including J.M Barrie, the author of the favourite children's story Peter Pan. Orchard Farm is another property of note, once the home of the Queen Mothers Aunt, Lady Bowes-Lyon. The Queen Mother was a regular visitor here during her childhood. You may also find Milestone House, this property is names after the Roman Milestone, that was defaced during the second world war, but marks the distance from this point to London , some 90 miles.
If Broadway sounds like a good fit for you, we would recommend the following options:
The beautiful & friendly Abbots Grange is tucked away at the bottom of the high street. This fabulous retreat has lovely views over the surrounding countryside. The majestic Lygon Arms, this towering building dominates the main street. Step inside & you are transported back in history. Filled with olde-worlde charm & a great menu perfect for a few nights stay. Next up you have the Broadway Hotel, this part timber-framed building located right in the heart of the village with views over the village green. At the top end of the high street, you have The Olive Branch guest house. Set in a quiet part of the street, within easy walk of all the amenities with a handful of rooms you are guaranteed a warm welcome. Lastly do consider Russell’s of Broadway a restaurant with rooms (7 in total) tucked away off the main street perfect for fans of fish & chips…how very English!
Where to stay in Burford?
Burford is located 9 miles South East of Stow on the Wold & 19 miles North West of Oxford. Burford is classed as one of the 'gateways' to the Cotswolds. A stunning market town located on the hillside, lined with impressive buildings along the main street. At the base of the hill can be found a stout medieval bridge moving modern day traffic over the river Windrush.
Prosperity came to the town during the medieval period with the rise of the wool industry, it was the first Cotswold market town to receive the Royal charter to host a market in 1087.
Burford was surrounded my many quarries, and as such master stone masons could be found in the towns surrounding villages of Windrush, Great Barrington & Upton. The 'Strong' family from Great Barrington's craftsmanship was renowned throughout England. The family contributed to restoring many buildings in the Nation capital after the Great Fire of London in 1666, along with working on St Paul's Cathedral at the request of Sir Christopher Wren. The town has a host of hoteliers a sign of its previous use as a coaching stop that are still thriving today. In years gone by travellers would disembark so that horses could be rested or changed & travellers could enjoy sustenance & a good night’s sleep before their onward journey.
The town became well-known for its 'Burford Bait' the hotels & inns monstrous meals often contained venison poached from the nearby Wychwood forest. The fine for poaching would be hanging, so the meat was discreetly 'stored' in the 'table tombs' in the local church yard (not a nice thought!) but no-one seemed to complain! Walking a few minutes away from the main street you will find the beautiful Parish church with its Norman tower topped with a wonderful 15th Century spire. Inside the church you will find evidence of its use during the English Civil War, take a look at the Church Font, which is inscribed 'Anthony Sedley 1649' Sedley was one of a group of 340 Parliamentarian supports who were imprisoned in the Church, they were forced to watch the execution of 3 of their leading officers, who were shot outside the Church before receiving a pardon from Oliver Cromwell. One of the oldest buildings in the town is Tolsey House, which was built in 1561 & can be found on the main high street. Its purpose was for hosting meetings of the wealthy merchants & also to collect taxes / fees from the market traders, along with its occasional use as a prison when the need would arise, this half-timbered building houses a small local museum.
For those who love antiques, Burford has an array of shops to explore along with a selection of cafe's one of note is Huffkins Bakery said to be the longest running bakery in the region. Or why not head out on foot, there are many country walks that can fill your day one which will take you West to Great Barrington on the 'Donnington Way’ or you can head East along the River Windrush footpath via Swinbrook, Widford, Fulbrook & further on to Minster Lovell with its atmospheric ruins of the 15th century hall.
If Burford sounds like a good fit for you, you have a good selection of options:
The Highway Inn, a historic inn with comfortable rooms, seasonal menu from the onsite restaurant right in the heart of the town. Decorated in a modern English country house style with a mixture of designer fabrics and wallpapers, there are 11 rooms all carefully furnished with a mixture of contemporary furniture and some classic pieces. Enjoy a good night’s sleep in one of The Bay Tree Hotel’s beautifully designed bedrooms, tucked away down one of the side streets of the main road this beautiful building. Packed to the rafters with history, the flagstone floors, big open fireplaces, and exposed beams have been restored to their former glory to honour the charming character of the building that still stands proud today. The Lamb Inn, started life in the early 15th century as a weaver’s cottage it has been modernised without compromising on charm. You have a selection of rooms to choose from all oozing with character.
Stay in the Cotswolds & take a guided tour with us!
Just remember if you are booking with Cotswolds Guided Tours & you are staying in a location that we would normally visit on your guided tour, we will swap that location out for a new one. We always want to ensure our guests see as much as possible throughout their stay in the Cotswolds.
We hope you have found this post useful for your next ‘escape to the Cotswolds countryside’. Next week our blog post will cover great country house hotels which we hope you will enjoy!