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Exploring the Cotswolds | English Countryside | Travel Guide

During our summer holiday in England (see our first portion of the trip – exploring the Peak District here), we spent three days in the world-renowned Cotswolds region, and as expected, absolutely fell in love with its beautiful countryside walks, unbelievably charming villages, friendly people, and overall country-chic aesthetic. Our gorgeous hotel, The Rectory Hotel (photos are at the end of the post), was the perfect home base for exploring this lovely area, and we loved coming back every evening for a nightcap in the gardens.

For me, I had very high expectations of the Cotswolds – as it is often referred to as the Provence or Tuscany of England, however, I can truly say that is truly exceeded every one of our expectations. It was one of those places where I instantly felt at home, dreaming of living in London and having a small country cottage in the Cotswolds where we would spend our holidays and weekends.

Considering a getaway to the Cotswolds? Be sure to read about my favorite places to eat, shop, and explorInterested

Intersted in a destination wedding in the Cotswolds? For more information about Cotswolds wedding photography or the best destination wedding venues in England, contact me!

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RESTAURANTS:

  • The Potting Shed Pub: The quintessential Cotswolds pub, this lovely restaurant has some of the best fish & chips in the region and is completely and utterly charming.
  • Calcot Manor Conservatory: Be warned, this gorgeous restaurant just may inspire you to come home and redecorate your home (it did for me). Located at the prestigious countryside retreat of Calcot Manor, the Conservatory is a beautiful, light-filled glass restaurant surrounded by lavender and framed with some of the most beautiful views in the region.
  • Daylesford Farm: Whether to eat, shop, spa, learn, or stay – the iconic Daylesford Farm is an absolute must in the Cotswolds. For me, this organic country farm turned dining, design, and pampering-mecca is the epitome of English country chic.
  • The Wild Rabbit: A modern British inn and pub, this restaurant, featuring organic and local fare, is one of the best in the region. As with the above locations, the design is perfection.
  • Broadway Deli: Located in the lovely town of Broadway, this deli is the perfect place to stop and pick-up delicious picnic supplies for the must-do hike to Broadway Tower.
  • Rectory: Our hotel also is home to one of the best restaurants in the region. With a stunning, light-flooded design and relaxed country fare – visiting is a must.

 

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VILLAGES:

  • Bourton-on-the-Water: Possibly the most iconic village in the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is simply gorgeous and is a must-see. A word of caution – it is listed in every guidebook and thus in the summertime can get terribly overcrowded with tour buses. My recommendation would be to visit in the early morning or evening to give you a more authentic experience.
  • Stow-on-the-Wold: This beautiful market town is a great place to spend an afternoon. Filled with pubs, tea houses, and wonderful little antique shops – I think Stow-on-the-Wold would be a wonderful place to stay in the Cotswolds. Be sure to stop at Amanda Brooks’ impeccably curated shop – Cutter Brooks.
  • Kingham: A tiny village that is home to the famous Wild Rabbit Pub, Kingham is beautiful and is the end of a lovely walk from Daylesford Farm.
  • Broadway: This bustling town could have been the favorite we visited during our entire time in England, as it was charming, lively, and not too touristy (unlike the beautiful but overcrowded Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water). Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and take the hike up to Broadway Tower!
  • Bibury: This utterly charming hamlet is a beautiful place to stop for a short walk and photos. Be sure to stop at the Swan Hotel for a drink in their pretty courtyard. Like Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury is also a very popular tourist location so I also recommend going in the early morning or evening – especailly during peak season.
  • Snowshill: Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit this charming hamlet, but it’s high on our list for the next time we are in the Cotswolds. We drove through on the way back from Broadway and it’s simply perfection.

 

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ACTIVITIES:

  • Daylesford Farm: Truly one of the highlights of my time in the Cotswolds was spending an afternoon at the iconic Daylesford Farm. What started as an organic, family-owned farm and has become a truly beloved English brand, this magical property is the epitome of English-country chic. It features an amazing gourmet grocery, garden shop, cookery school, spa, floral school, and a luxury shop which sells everything you could dream of wearing at your English country home. We visited their gorgeous Bamford-Haybarn spa for the most heavenly massages and truly never wanted to leave!
  • Cutter Brooks: I have followed the brilliant (and gorgeous) Amanda Brooks since her days at Barney’s New York, and over the years have loved watching her share the beautiful life she has created with her family in the English countryside. When I saw that she was opening up a lifestyle shop in the Cotswolds (literally two weeks before our visit), I knew that I had to make the pilgrimage, and it was truly even more lovely and sophisticated than I had hoped.
  • Hiking: Whether you are looking for a leisurely stroll or a strenuous hike, the Cotswolds is truly one of the best places to explore by foot in Europe. As it was our first trip and we spent quite a lot of time in villages, we only did a few hikes – however I can highly recommend the challenging (but fun) hike from the village of Broadway up to the tower. However, I know that on our next trip to the Cotswolds hiking will be a top priority!

 

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Photos by Cotswolds wedding photographer Molly Carr Photography | Contax 645 | Fuji 400H scanned by Richard Photo Lab | Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 35mm 1.4 Lens

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