the cotswolds: a photo essay

theromanticA few weeks ago, the hubs and I celebrated our four year wedding anniversary. On the actual day, we ordered a bunch of Italian food from our new favorite restaurant around the corner (Portobello Garden, they don’t have a website because they’re just that old timey and Italian?), but because we haven’t left London in over a month, we decided a weekend getaway was in order.

Our only requirements? Driving distance and dog friendly, as we’re still trying to get the pugsitter sitch in order. Obviously, we weren’t spoiled (spoilt?) (silly British English) for choice, and in the weeks leading up to the big day, we entertained everywhere from Cornwall to Edinburgh.

In the end, we settled on a place I’ve long been dreaming of seeing in person: The Cotswolds.

The Cotswolds - DoorsBecause he’s a dream, the hubs ducked out of work a bit early so we could skip the insane Friday rush hour exodus, and we made it to Stow-on-the-Wold in just under two hours. Autumn was just starting to show herself, and the entire weekend was everything we’d hoped it would be…

Despite a very, very weird hotel experience.

Stow-on-the-Wold - The UnicornAfter some research, the hubs shot an email to The Unicorn in Stow-on-the-Wold, which had mostly great reviews, and gorgeous photos on their website. Stone walls, fireplaces in the rooms, the works. We were told the property was getting a complete overhaul, but one of the new apartmentsuites was ready for guests if we didn’t mind the fact that the bar/restaurant/lobby… everything else, basically, was closed.

Based on the pictures on the website, we didn’t mind. But if the pictures had looked ANYTHING like the actual apartment we walked into, we would have stayed elsewhere. When we asked our host what happened to the fireplaces in the pictures, he feigned confusion and said it was too warm for a fire anyway! It wasn’t, and I probably should have taken pictures to fully demonstrate the absurdity, but honestly? I feel like once the full refurb is over, it might actually be a great place to stay (assuming they replace all the amenities/linens/furniture with actual luxury options and make the rooms look as pictured…). But for now? I’d skip The Unicorn and sleep in one of the other equally as adorable hotels in Stow-on-the-Wold, because the rest of the town did not disappoint. Such as the Porch House, which was one of our very favorite pubs of the weekend:

The Porch House - Stow-on-the-WoldOther favorites? Champagne hour followed by dinner at The Bell at Stow, breakfast at The Coffee House, and the very, very best: dinner at The Old Butchers.

Clearly, I left my heart in Stow, but we also took all of Saturday to drive through Lower & Upper Slaughter, Chipping Campden, Bourton-on-the-Water (felt EXACTLY like Peddler’s Village, which is near where we grew up in Pennsylvania), and Cirencester.

Upper and Lower Slaughter - CotswoldsCotswolds - Backpack PugIt was a weekend full of, “ooooh!!! Let’s live THERE!” as if we didn’t just claw our way back into city life after a year in the French countryside. But seriously… let’s live HERE:The Cotswolds6A ram kept us from going too fast from Lower to Upper Slaughter, thanks rammy. Meanwhile, Parker was living the life. The hubs, ye olde ginger beard, on the other hand, was dishing out the sass, clearly.

The Cotswolds7On Sunday, we woke up bright and early to head to Blenheim Castle — the birthplace of Winston Churchill. We didn’t go inside, just strolled around the grounds and soaked in the autumn sun on the first official day of the season.

The Cotswolds9Oh, and I relieved the hubs’s back of pug lugging. For like ten minutes.

Blenheim Palace - The Cotswolds

Searcy Champagne BarThe town of Woodstock was also a pleasant surprise, and, since Searcys Champagne Bar wasn’t opening anytime soon, we sat outside at a local cafe with scones and coffee while we people watched…

The Cotswolds11

Crickets.

Unsurprisingly, it was a pretty quiet Sunday, so we soon moved on to plotting our next stop: Highclere Castle. The REAL Downton Abbey.

Because the newest season was premiering that night in the UK, it was obviously the very best way to prepare for our reunion with the Dowager Countess & co. Unfortunately, the castle’s season ended, like, 30 seconds before we arrived. We thought we might be able to see it from somewhere nearby, but alas. No such luck.

Next time, Highclere. Lord Pugbutt, the Earl of Notting Hill, is ready for you.

The Cotswolds12And I, for one, am more than ready to keep this UK countryside exploration going. I have a few things already in the queue, but anywhere I must be sure is on the list?? What are your English/Scottish/Welsh/Norther Irish faves?!

xo!

the romantic

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30 Comments

  1. October 1, 2014 / 08:21

    I love the Cotswolds, the villages are all so pretty! It’s not really countryside, but one of my favourite places is Dartmouth in Devon. Right on the water, colourful little houses built up the hillside and amazing seafood and clotted cream ice-cream.

    Sometime Traveller

    • October 1, 2014 / 11:39

      i keep hearing great things about devon, and dartmouth sounds like a dream!! will definitely try to visit next summer. (i’m assuming that’s when it’s best, right??)
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..the cotswolds: a photo essayMy Profile

  2. Corinne
    October 1, 2014 / 08:24

    It all looks wonderful. I would have been sorely disappointed in no fireplace. Every romantic getaway needs one! Great photos…stone walls, ivy, dogs…really. How can you go wrong?

    • October 1, 2014 / 11:47

      i ‘m glad you agree about the fireplace!! i was really bummed, and the guy was a major dweeb about it. but whatever, at least the rest of the weekend did not disappoint.
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..the cotswolds: a photo essayMy Profile

  3. October 1, 2014 / 11:50

    The Cotswolds look absolutely gorgeous! For a long weekend in the U.K., I’d recommend Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides (although I am a little biased, seeing as I grew up there!).
    Katie recently posted..An All-Inclusive Stay at Diani Sea Resort, KenyaMy Profile

      • October 22, 2014 / 08:27

        Not many people have heard of it, and that’s why the landscape and beaches are still so unspoilt. I had a few friends from London visit recently and they said exactly the same thing as you 🙂
        Katie recently posted..The Hoxton Holborn: More Than A Mere HotelMy Profile

  4. October 1, 2014 / 12:14

    I tried to make a day in the Cotswolds happen on our last visit to the U.K. but it just didn’t work out. I really do want to spend some time there soon. As much as I love London (and I really do) this is what visiting England is like. My wife’s family lives in Norfolk and I absolutely love visiting the little villages of the U.K.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Sleeping Bear Dunes Three-Hour GuideMy Profile

  5. October 1, 2014 / 12:55

    God, I am so sorry that the hotel was not what you hoped for!! Silly British people!!! Bt the rest seemed VERY pretty and you were so lucky with the weather. I think you kind of brought the sun with you when you moved here.
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Top 5 Autumn beauty essentials for 2014My Profile

  6. October 1, 2014 / 13:18

    errr uh.. what pictures. LOL Well it makes for a good story. The rest of the trip looked great and I love seeing Parker in a backpack. #PocketPug

    • October 2, 2014 / 05:34

      haha i know, bad blogger. but the place seriously looked NOTHING like what’s pictured on the website, and nothing about it was “luxury.” i’m still confused!
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..the cotswolds: a photo essayMy Profile

  7. October 1, 2014 / 16:14

    Looks amazing! If you’re into picturesque tiny towns, you have to go to St. Andrews and Anstruther, both in Scotland! Anstruther has a fish and chips place that is consistently ranked best in the UK (side note, or perhaps not a side note: Prince William frequented it when he was studying at St. Andrews)

  8. October 3, 2014 / 03:16

    Lower & Upper Slaughter, Chipping Campden, Bourton-on-the-Water … England has THE BEST names for places!

    That’s too bad about the hotel and the Downton Abbey castle, but it still looks like a super charming place to spend a weekend!
    Heather recently posted..The Best Meals We Ate in TallinnMy Profile

    • October 6, 2014 / 06:01

      right?! i love the names here, too. and the highclere scheduling is just another reason to escape the city and go on a mini roadtrip again soon 🙂
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..the cotswolds: a photo essayMy Profile

  9. October 3, 2014 / 22:28

    Ooooh! The Cotswold looks like a dream!!! I showed my mom this post and she nearly had a heart-attack! Love!
    HotMamaTravel recently posted..Orange CircleMy Profile

    • October 6, 2014 / 06:03

      i hope she’s able to visit! it was exactly how i always pictured it to be. well, except for the hotel. that was nothing like what THEY pictured it to be 😉
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..the cotswolds: a photo essayMy Profile

  10. October 7, 2014 / 18:18

    Love this! Such a pretty part of the UK 🙂

  11. Mali
    October 9, 2014 / 10:44

    This is one of my favorite places to be. The villages and towns are small and friendly and ooze history. By the way, many hotel pictures disappoint you. I have been to too many run down hotels across Britain that I don’t expect much any more.
    Mali recently posted..Snapping a Selfie and Checking Social Media While DrivingMy Profile

  12. MySuitcaseDiary
    November 21, 2014 / 17:06

    Very nice and cosy UK village, great pictures !

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