7 de November de 2023 mariana

Prettiest Villages in The Cotswolds: Where To Stay And Things To Do

As much as I love London life, I can’t deny the charm of the English countryside. The villages in the Cotswolds are definitely one of the best places in England to experience it! The region is known for its timeless beauty, charming villages, and rolling hills. They are so beautiful that sometimes they make me feel like I’m in a storybook. It’s a place that evokes a sense of tranquility and captures the essence of quintessential English life. The whole experience is perfectly complemented with stops for afternoon tea or a visit to a local pub when exploring the area. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at some of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, alongside suggestions of places to stay and things to see in each of them.Bibury: the prettiest villages in the CotswoldsCastle Combe: the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds

Exploring The Cotswolds Without a Car?

If you’re planning to explore the Cotswolds without a car, consider checking out the tours listed below. You can do so before or after immersing yourself in its enchanting villages in the Cotswolds. These tours provide fantastic opportunities to maximize your visit, even if you’re without your own transportation!

Prettiest Villages in The Cotswolds

Bibury

Often hailed as the “most beautiful village in England,” Bibury is a place that seems straight out of a storybook. It’s one of the villages in the Cotswolds that you must not miss! Its iconic Arlington Row cottages, with their distinct gabled roofs and climbing roses, are a sight to behold. The gentle flow of the River Coln adds to the village’s serene ambiance. This place is a prime example of the Cotswolds’ signature charm, with its honey-toned stone homes that define the area’s architectural character. The National Trust now oversees part of Bibury, which includes a row of weavers’ cottages dating back to the 1600s, as well as a picturesque water meadow known as Rack Isle. Arlington Row, a highlight of Bibury, boasts cottages that trace their origins even further back, with the thoroughfare dating back to the 1300s. In days gone by, residents of Arlington Row would hang their wool on racks after washing, a practice that gave Rack Isle its name. Today, visitors can admire the flourishing flora and fauna at this nature reserve.

 

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Where to StayThe Swan HotelCotteswold HouseSwallows Nest
Top Tour to Book: Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and Cotswolds Tour from London

Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water is a must-visit destination for anyone planning an itinerary in the region, as this is one of the most beautiful and famous villages in the Cotswolds. It holds a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest places to explore in the region, and upon visiting, it’s easy to understand why. Known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” Bourton-on-the-Water charms visitors with its low stone bridges over the River Windrush. The village offers a variety of delightful shops, tearooms, and attractions, including the captivating Model Village, a miniature replica of the village itself.  One of the top places to visit is the Model Village, a meticulously crafted scaled replica dating back to the 1930s. At Birdland, visitors of all ages can marvel at a diverse array of birds, including owls, parrots, and King penguins. Bourton is also home to the Cotswolds Motoring Museum, where vintage and toy vehicles are on display. A special annual tradition in the village takes place during the summer months, when a football match is played in the shallow waters of the river. This local custom has been upheld for well over a century, adding a unique touch to the village’s character.

Where to StayThe Lansdowne Guest HouseThe Old New InnThe Lamb Inn
Top Tour to Book: Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and Cotswolds Tour from London

Castle Combe

Castle Combe is often regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in England, boasting quaint streets lined with honey-colored cottages and a 14th-century market cross. It has also been a backdrop for several films, solidifying its cinematic allure. Situated near Chippenham, its name harkens back to a long-forgotten fortress that once commanded the landscape. Today, Castle Combe still boasts a 13th-century church, renowned for its distinctive faceless clock, along with an ancient market cross. One of the most delightful aspects of visiting Castle Combe is the warm hospitality extended by the locals. They rightfully take pride in being one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds. During dry spells, villagers often set up stalls outside their honey-colored homes, offering delectable treats like cakes, sweets, and freshly picked flowers. Castle Combe has also served as a backdrop for notable films such as Dr. Doolittle, Stardust, and War Horse. The presence of a motor racing circuit on the village’s outskirts and two welcoming pubs provide additional incentives to explore. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely stroll to the bridge and revel in the breathtaking views. If you’re travelling after Instagrammable places in the Cotswolds, I highly recommend experiencing the magic of Castle Combe by staying at the enchanting Manor House!

 

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Where to StayThe Castle InnThe Old Museum, The Manor House Hotel and Golf Club
Top Tour to Book: Lacock and Castle Combe – Afternoon Private Tour

Burford

Situated approximately 20 miles from both Oxford and Cheltenham, Burford is often referred to as the gateway to the southern region of the Cotswolds. Nestled along the banks of the River Windrush, the village’s picturesque high street slopes down towards the flowing waters below. Burford boasts a delightful array of charming shops and cafes, creating a quaint and inviting atmosphere. Notably, it is home to England’s oldest pharmacy, Reavley’s, which has been in operation since 1734 and continues to thrive. For history buffs, Burford offers an enriching experience. St. John’s church features a memorial dedicated to one of Henry VIII’s barber surgeons. Additionally, the Tolsey Museum is housed in a 16th-century building, providing further insight into the village’s rich past. Annually, Burford hosts Levellers Day, a commemorative event honoring three radicals who were executed in the churchyard, adding a poignant layer to the village’s historical significance.

 

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Where to StayThe Angel at BurfordThe Bay Tree Hotel, The Highway Inn
Top Tour to Book: Cotswolds: Walks and Villages Guided Tour

Lower Slaughter

Despite its somewhat enigmatic name, “slaughter” in this context finds its origins in the Old English term for the damp, muddy lands along the River Eye, upon which this Gloucestershire village stands. Lower Slaughter is graced by two charming footbridges that span the waters. The River Eye is, in fact, a tributary of the River Windrush, which flows through nearby Burford and Bourton-on-the-Water. For those venturing from Bourton, a leisurely walk to both Lower and Upper Slaughter is an option, easing any potential parking concerns in these intimate villages. I was fortunate enough to find a small spot in a layby on the roadside, but luck was certainly on my side that day! Lower Slaughter proudly boasts a mill listed in the 1086 Domesday Book. Today, the Old Mill is open to the public, serving as a captivating museum. While Lower Slaughter may not offer a plethora of activities, the village’s main attraction lies in the form of the Slaughters Country Inn, a quintessential English inn serving delectable food and beverages. For those seeking an overnight stay, options include the pub itself or the luxurious Slaughters Manor House in Upper Slaughter, a splendid Cotswolds hotel with roots dating back to the 17th century. Nestled beside the River Eye, Lower Slaughter is a peaceful oasis of natural beauty. The stone buildings seem to blend harmoniously with the landscape, creating a picturesque setting. The Old Mill, complete with a waterwheel and charming gardens, adds to the village’s allure.

 

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Where to StayThe Slaughters Manor HouseThe Slaughters Country Inn, Mill Stream Cottage
Top Tour to Book: Undiscovered Cotswolds Private Tour

Upper Slaughter

Upper Slaughter is the address of one of the best stays in the Cotswolds: Lords of the Manor hotel. Located just a mile from Lower Slaughter, it’s equally as captivating! What sets it apart is its unique status as one of the country’s few ‘Double Thankful Villages,’ signifying that it suffered no losses during both World War I and World War II. In days gone by, a Norman castle once graced the landscape, and today, the Slaughters Manor House stands as a splendid hotel. Another notable attraction in the village is Eyford House, which once earned the title of ‘England’s Favourite House’ bestowed by Country Life magazine. The 1.5-acre property boasts a charming garden teeming with ornamental trees and shrubs. Legend has it that the Queen Anne style house served as inspiration for Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Where to StayLords of the Manor

Cirencester

Cirencester, though modest in size by today’s standards, held the distinction of being Britain’s second-largest town during the Roman era. This convenient day trip from London draws visitors from all corners of the globe, intrigued by its rich history as a market town nestled along the banks of the River Churn. In medieval times, Cirencester gained renown for its wool production, a legacy that persists today. The imposing St. John the Baptist church overlooks the vibrant market square, a testament to the town’s enduring significance. Regular markets are a staple on Mondays and Fridays, and visitors can also peruse antiques, crafts, and farmer’s markets, adding to the town’s lively atmosphere. Notably, the Royal Agricultural University was established in Cirencester in 1845, making it the world’s pioneer in academic institutions dedicated to the field. If you’re seeking a strategic base for exploring the Cotswolds, I highly recommend considering Cirencester as your hub. Its central location and vibrant market scene make it an ideal starting point for Cotswold adventures.


Where to StayBarnsley HouseThe Fleece at CirencesterWild Thyme & Honey

Stow-on-the-Wold

Compared to other enchanting villages in the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold may strike you as a bustling hub of activity. Established during Norman times, this settlement sits at the convergence of seven major roads, including the ancient Roman route, Fosse Way. The abundance of accommodations, pubs, and shops has made Stow-on-the-Wold one of the most sought-after places to stay in the Cotswolds. Stow offers a range of amenities and attractions, including charming pubs, a bustling market square, St. Edward’s church, and the historic stocks. For a delightful Cotswolds brunch, I highly recommend paying a visit to The Hive. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the numerous galleries, and there’s also an antiques center to explore. Additionally, Stow boasts several unique shops, such as the Borzoi Bookshop, an independent retailer with a storied history spanning over four decades.

Where to StayThe Kings Arms HotelNumber Four at StowThe Porch House

Tetbury

Tetbury stands as one of the largest towns in the Cotswolds, with a historical legacy rooted in yarn and wool production during the Middle Ages. The site itself has even deeper historical roots, once housing an Anglo-Saxon monastery and, before that, an ancient hill fort dating back to 681. Tetbury proudly preserves numerous former wool merchants’ homes, offering visitors a glimpse into life during the 1500s and 1600s. Today, the town embraces its royal connections as the private residence of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. The town’s stores are a major attraction, including the shop at nearby Highgrove, as well as the array of antiques dealers, boutiques, interiors, and vintage retailers that Tetbury has to offer. For those with a penchant for vintage shopping, Tetbury is an absolute gem in the Cotswolds.

Where to StayThe Royal Oak TetburyThe Surveyor’s HouseThe Hare & Hounds Hotel

Chipping Campden

If you’re looking for enchanting gardens in the Cotswolds, this is a great place to visit! Chipping Campden is renowned for its captivating high street, adorned with a graceful ensemble of buildings, each bearing the marks of time, ranging from the 1300s to the 1600s. It remains a lively market town, drawing both locals in search of provisions and visitors who come to admire the undeniable charm of this Cotswolds gem. Overseen by the National Trust, the Market Hall stands as a testament to the town’s rich heritage. The Trust also tends to the stunning Hidcote Manor Gardens, adding to the allure of Chipping Campden. The town boasts a couple of charming churches, various meticulously tended gardens, and Court Barn, a museum celebrating craft and design. For those seeking a scenic walk, a trek to Broadway Tower or a visit to Dovers Hill will treat you to breathtaking vistas of the surrounding countryside. Little Oak Vineyard is also a local favorite, offering not only wine tastings but also a delectable lunch option, making it a delightful stop during your visit to Chipping Campden.

 

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Where to StayEight Bells InnCotswold House Hotel and SpaThe Ebrington Arms

Painswick

Known as the “Queen of the Cotswolds,” Painswick is a village steeped in history, adorned with meticulously preserved architecture. It’s a destination that frequently tops the list for travelers seeking the quintessential English experience! The crowning jewel is the magnificent Painswick Rococo Garden, an 18th-century pleasure garden that transports visitors to a bygone era. This charming village, constructed from the local honey-toned stone, once played a significant role in the wool trading industry. The renowned Cotswold Way traverses right through Painswick. Positioned around the halfway point of this long-distance footpath, the village serves as a popular stop for walkers in need of rest and rejuvenation. Painswick has gained fame for its remarkable yew trees in the churchyard, lending a mystical atmosphere to the village. Additionally, the Painswick Rococo Garden stands as a serene oasis originally created for the owner of Painswick House, and to this day, it graces the grounds with its timeless beauty.

 

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Where to StaySt. Michaels BistroDove Lodge

Broadway

Broadway, once a favored stop for stage coaches en route to London or Oxford, boasts a collection of welcoming inns. The High Street is adorned with a harmonious blend of Cotswold stone buildings and period homes, flanked by stately horse chestnut trees. Throughout its history, Broadway has been linked with several notable figures, including author J. M. Barrie, textile designer William Morris, and even Oliver Cromwell, who sought respite at the Lygon Arms on the eve of the Battle of Worcester. Broadway offers an array of attractions, including the Gordon Russell Design Museum, the historic St. Eadburgha’s church, the iconic Broadway Tower, and a lively adventure park perfect for children and families alike. The village’s blend of historical significance and natural beauty makes it a must-visit destination in the Cotswolds.

 

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Where to StayThe Lygon ArmsDormy House HotelThe Fish Hotel
Top Tour to Book: Cotswolds: Walks and Villages Guided Tour

Snowshill

Perched on a hilltop, Snowshill offers breathtaking vistas of the rolling Cotswold landscape. The quaint cottages, some adorned with vibrant wisteria, exude a timeless charm. Surrounded on three of four sides by the gentle slopes of the Cotswold Hills, the village exudes a warm and inviting atmosphere. Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property, is home to the extraordinary Charles Wade collection, which spans a diverse range of items including toys, bicycles, clocks, musical instruments, and even Samurai armor. The gardens surrounding the manor are equally enchanting, bursting with vibrant and fragrant blooms throughout the spring and summer months. Thanks to its position in the valley, Snowshill’s village green often enjoys the first dusting of snow in the winter, giving the village its fitting name. The village is also home to the popular Snowshill Arms pub and a charming churchyard, adding to its allure. Snowshill is truly a gem in the heart of the Cotswolds, offering a blend of natural beauty and historical charm.

Where to StayWillow Vale

Kingham

Kingham has become a renowned destination for food enthusiasts. Both The Wild Rabbit and the Kingham Plough, the village’s two pubs, are beloved by gastronomes. For those arriving from the capital by public transport, Kingham proves to be an excellent choice. The train station is just a mile from the village center and offers mainline services to London. With its picturesque green fringed by cottages, a quaint church, and a village shop, Kingham exudes a charming ambiance. Thanks to its proximity to walking and cycling trails that lead from the village, Kingham also attracts active individuals seeking to immerse themselves in the refreshing Cotswolds air and savor the serene, scenic landscapes of the area.

 

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Where to StayThe Kingham PloughMonument CottageKeen Cottage, The Wild Rabbit Kingham

Asthall

Asthall, nestled in the picturesque Windrush Valley near Burford, is a must-visit destination primarily for the stunning Asthall Manor. This 17th-century Jacobean manor holds special historical significance as the former residence of the Mitford sisters. Legend has it that much of Nancy’s “Love in a Cold Climate” was penned here, during their stays away from the family estate in Northumberland. Akeman Street in Asthall bears traces of an ancient Roman settlement, and the village once played a pivotal role as a crucial link between St Albans and Cirencester. The local church, dating back to the 1100s, though not the resting place of the Mitford sisters, adds to the village’s historical charm. They find their final resting place in nearby Swinbrook at St. Nicolas’s church. Within the grounds of Asthall Manor, art enthusiasts can explore the captivating ‘on form’ sculpture garden, showcasing a range of exquisite sculptures. For those willing to venture a bit further, the nearby Kilkenny Lane Country Park offers a picturesque natural oasis, particularly popular with families seeking a tranquil spot to unwind and enjoy the outdoors.

 

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Top Place to Visit: Asthall Manor

Stanton

Stanton is a hidden gem away from the main tourist paths, embodying the Cotswold ideal. The village’s picturesque cottages, adorned with vibrant floral displays, reflect the pride of its residents. Nestled beneath the slopes of Shenbarrow Hill, it’s undeniably one of the most picturesque and tranquil villages in the Cotswolds. Its timeless beauty has remained largely unchanged for over three centuries. The village boasts a charming, elongated main street adorned with quaint corners, where ancient houses are constructed in the quintessential Cotswolds style. Steeply pitched gables, mullioned windows, and the warm, golden hue of limestone walls create an enchanting atmosphere. In addition to its captivating architecture, Stanton is home to a collection of 16th and 17th century houses, a meticulously restored medieval cross, and a church where traces of Norman craftsmanship still linger. Stanton embodies the essence of a serene Cotswold village, free from commercialization or bustling shops, save for The Mount pub. Perched on a mound at the village’s end, it offers very beautiful views!

 

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Where to Stay: Stone Cottage, The Old Shop Broadway

Blockley

With its charming village green offering a picturesque view of the hill cascading down to the Norman church, Blockley is a hidden gem in the Cotswolds. Perched on a sequence of terraces overlooking the Knee Brook valley, the picturesque village of Blockley provides a captivating glimpse into England’s medieval countryside. Dotted with contentedly grazing sheep, the lush meadows on the hill across from the village retain the same idyllic charm they held centuries ago, when sheep were brought to Blockley for shearing, and their wool was later transformed in mills nestled at the valley’s base. As time passed, the woollen mills underwent a transformation, shifting their focus to the processing of silk. This historical transition is still evident today as you embark on a leisurely wander through the village’s intricate network of pathways. Keep an eye out for landmarks like the Old Silk Mill and the Ribbon Mill buildings, serving as enduring testaments to Blockley’s rich industrial legacy. Its peaceful streets provide a serene atmosphere, free from the hustle and bustle of day-trippers that usually opt for the most popular villages in the Cotswolds.

 

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Where to Stay: Pearl Cottage, Middle Rose

Bibury in the CotswoldsArlington Row in Bibury, CotswoldsWith its hidden gems and enchanting landscapes, these villages in the Cotswolds invite visitors to experience the idyllic beauty of rural England. Each one possesses a unique charm, whether it’s the riverside romance of Bourton-on-the-Water, the cinematic allure of Castle Combe, or the hidden gem of Stanton. Exploring these villages is akin to stepping into a storybook world, where time moves at a leisurely pace. For those in search of a quintessential English experience, the Cotswolds is an absolute must-visit destination.

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