Anyone who has been to London knows all about the wonderful buzz of that city. But if you’re craving a break, and love the idea of being surrounded by the lush English countryside, then the Cotswolds area is the quintessential getaway. The heart of the Cotswolds is in Gloucestershire, about a two-hour drive west, and a little north, of London. (Have you seen Bridget Jones’ Diary? Its country scenes take place in the Cotswolds.) The area is known for its beautiful stone-wall-lined laneways, rolling footpaths and houses made of the local golden-coloured rock—not to mention country pubs nestled in picturesque villages.
At the Cotswolds’ eastern edge is Oxford, with all its dreamy spires, and to the west is Cheltenham, known as “The Regency Spa Town”; its beautiful grand boulevards are made for strolling the day away, and it has so many lovely, unique boutiques.
Hooked on exploring the area a few days? Then I’d highly recommend this gorgeous accommodation: Greenway Hotel & Spa, about two miles south of Cheltenham. My husband and I knew we were in for a treat when we learned this hotel is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World network (a trusted favourite of Travel & Style), meaning it has met a high standard for luxury, attention to detail and uniqueness (check, check and check in our books!).
The 400-year-old building with a backdrop of sheep-spotted slopes is a breathtaking setting, and as you drive up the winding driveway and first lay eyes on the stately stone manor house and its gorgeously furnished lobby, you feel drawn back to a time of the English gentry. The difference is that here, you get the benefit of contemporary dining and a beautiful modern spa complete with Champagne bar, al fresco wooden hot tub and stunning indoor hydrotherapy pool, all surrounded by exposed brickwork and old beams.
The Greenway is an Elizabethan manor house built in 1584, set on eight acres of countryside that you are free to stroll. It takes its name from the ancient path running alongside the property that was used in pre-Roman times by farmers as a safe route through the Cotswold hills. For many years this hotel was the late Queen Mother’s favourite base during Cheltenham Gold Cup horse racing week, which takes place each spring.
The hotel has 18 classically appointed rooms of various sizes, plus a private two bedroom stone lodge. There’s a lovely lobby with comfortable arm chairs and couches, where you can enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. And the dining itself is superb, with chef Marcus McGuinness presiding over modern and creative dishes with a focus on local ingredients.
We stayed in one of the four Feature Suites, the Elm room, which was massive with its king sized bed, large couples’ bathroom and lovely views both out of the front of the property and to the hillside behind. I left my husband to settle into the room while I went downstairs to indulge in a facial—the Lifestage Facial. The Elan Spa uses Britain’s own Espa beauty products, beautifully scented and smooth products like the nourishing cleansing balm and hydrating cleansing mask.
Afterwards, we went down to the lounge for a glass of Champagne followed by a gorgeous dinner. I started with the Devon crab salad, then went for the braised hake as a main dish. We left no room for dessert, but later, lounging on our sofa, we did enjoy the lovely homemade truffles waiting in our room. The perfect end to our evening, we only wished we could stay a few days.
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