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Age cannot wither her: the perennial pull of the Cotswolds

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England at its bewitching best…



Like the yellow-gold St John’s wort that flecks its meadows, the Cotswolds is a true perennial. Year after year, devotees return to this pocket of old England hewn from honey-hued stone, another sort of gold that gives the buildings a timeless beauty. And the crowning glory? These treasured counties hold their value year-round, capable of enchanting in all seasons. Now that the UK has dropped all travel restrictions, it's all the more easy to come under the spell…



Just like its fragrant namesake, Thyme is evergreen. The hotel overlooks a garden of botanical delights with a mature Lebanon cedar and plump pillows of topiary. Nature has been coaxed into the rooms, too, creating an eternal summer of leafy greens and floral blooms. The surrounding landscape is beautiful whatever the weather but Thyme has great indoors too, including cooking classes, a natural spa and a bar serving botanical creations.

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This arcadian manor is a vision of ivy-wreathed stone. It’s in the impossibly picturesque hamlet of Bampton, rubbing shoulders with a 13th-century church and 17th-century tavern. Scenes for Downton Abbey were filmed down the road – but there’s nothing stuffy about this characterful Duke. The owners have kept things convivial with colourful interiors, a cosy bar and a restaurant serving prime cuts.


Another star of Broadway, this 17th-century farmhouse commands hilltop views of the 400-acre Farncombe Estate. It’s a favourite among city dwellers who decamp for head-clearing walks on the sprawling grounds, sanctifying sessions in the award-winning spa, and long, leisurely dinners at restaurant the Back Garden, a showcase of rare-breed meats and greens grown in the local area.

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Broadway might just be the prettiest village in the Cotswolds. Then again, to quote Shakespeare (who was born half an hour from here), ‘uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’. Just look at the Lygon Arms, where the guest list includes deposed king Charles I, antimonarchist Oliver Cromwell and abdicator Edward VIII. But unless you're planning a coup, you'll find the hospitality as warming as the Cotswold whisky behind the bar.


The sister property to Dormy House, this Arts and Crafts mansion has just eight rooms. You’ll feel like lord or lady of the manor, too, as the place is run more like a private retreat than a regular hotel. Meals, for instance, are governed by a ‘whenever, wherever’ philosophy – you sit down with the head chef to create your own culinary itinerary. Guests get access to Dormy House, including its restaurants and award-laden spa.

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The Fish lures many a world-weary soul with its rustic charm and acres of unspoilt countryside. With fields and forest in all directions, it’s a winner for those long country walks – and the well-stocked boot room means you needn’t pack wellies. Most rooms are spread between the farmhouse, coach house and converted stable block, but if you want to feel really close to nature, go for one of the stove-warmed shepherd's huts.







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