Short stay: Cotswold House Hotel & Spa, Chipping Campden, The Cotswolds, UK
There is a Cotswold-stone golden glow to the facade of three Georgian houses that combine to form this 28-room luxury hotel.
Looking down on Chipping Campden’s slanting yesteryear high street, the elegant hotel is within yards of the town’s covered market. It was the tradition of the market, or the chipping as it was known in medieval times, that gave the town its name.
Mid-20th century, historian G. M. Trevelyan declared that Chipping Campden had the finest high street, preserving the past, that remained in Britain. Take away the cars and you could film Thomas Hardy scenes of milkmaids and shepherds.
With a few minutes of free parking permitted in front of the Cotswold House Hotel & Spa, the hotel recommends dropping off luggage first. Then making the two minutes drive to the car park at the rear of the hotel.
It is a surprisingly long walk back to reception, through the hotel’s lengthy gardens divided into charming secret spaces by box and yew hedges.
Once back at reception, we are checked-in and guided through meandering corridors to our room. Getting lost is part of the Cotswold House experience. Luckily, sooner or later, you’ll be back at the spectacular cylindrical, spiralling staircase.
Our ground floor junior suite has French windows that open out onto a screened patio, with table and chairs. Although we are just yards from Chipping Campden’s busy High Street, the tucked away suite is blissfully quiet.
Free-flow design leads the eye from the king-size-bed, with statement taupe headboard, through to a lounge dominated by an aubergine sofa and armchair. As well as a large free-standing wardrobe there are two case stands and a desk. Two elongated pyramids, on the fireplace mantel, provide a warm-orange glow when switched on.
Although there are only 28 rooms, there are eight different types of rooms, so it’s worth talking through your requirements with the hotel before booking. Within the grounds there are six cottage rooms, whilst in the main house accommodation ranges from cosy rooms up in the eaves through to the grand Montrose Suite.
Is the bathroom a Venetian glass showroom with glasswork displayed on backlit shelves? Or is it a spa with bottles of The Natural Spa products displayed on the shelves? In fact, the bathroom is large enough to be both.
A deep oval bath dominates the room and there is also a walk-in shower.
On the High Street, right in the middle of the town, the bar attracts both residents and passing trade. A selection of 80 gins and an impressive cocktail menu, as much as location, creates a buzzing ambience.
Classically designed Georgian columns and delicate cornices feature in the graceful Fig Restaurant. While The Bistro on the Square has a more informal and contemporary vibe, though both restaurants serve the same menu.
Usually there’s much more to the menu than is shown online. Although it is hard to look beyond perfectly prepared classic starters such as cheese soufflé, home-made soup and salmon gravadlax there are more options amongst the starters.
Equally there are specials like cote de boeuf, lamb, sea bream and prawn linguine supplementing the regulars of duck, pheasant, cauliflower tandoori, duck, trout and steak.
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Court Barn Museum tells the story of how CR Ashbee brought the Guild of Crafts to Chipping Campden in 1902. Previously his group of artisans, creating hand-crafted pieces, as part of an arts and crafts movement reacting against industrial mass production, had been based in East London. As one of the Museum’s displays states, it was almost case of Eastenders meeting The Archers.
Exhibits tell the stories of the many artisans who sometimes struggled to adapt to country life and who were not always welcomed by country folk. Over time they struggled to find markets for their work and Ashbee had to close the co-operative. et, many of the craftsmen stayed on. Artistry thrives at The Gallery of The Old Silk Mill on Sheep Street.
Depending on how you see it, Chipping Campden is the starting or finishing point for the 102 miles of The Cotswold Way. Also, there are splendid gardens at Hidcote to explore.
Other nice touches
Blending into the Arts and Crafts setting, the silver stands for afternoon tea and cutlery are all supplied by Robert Welch Silversmiths whose studio also sits on Chipping Campden’s High Street.
In the bathroom, emphasising the hotel’s eco-credentials, an aesthetically effective curtain has been created from abandoned plastic ties.
Hung in reception, a poster lists the Top 25 things to do within 25 minutes of the Cotswold House Hotel.
Room rates for bed and breakfast begin at £140 in winter and £190 in summer.
The best bit
Literally far from the madding crowd, at the end of the garden, former stables have been converted into a relaxing spa.
It is made up of six treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy area with a heated hydrotherapy pool and an aromatic steam room for use before and after treatment.
The final verdict
A beautiful, rambling house at the heart of picturesque Chipping Campden with elegant contemporary touches and a charming spa.
Step out of the front door to enjoy Chipping Campden’s continuing arts and crafts heritage.
Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Cotswold House Hotel & Spa.