The Cotswolds England is known for lots of lovely accommodation options. It can often be overwhelming to figure out not just which places to visit in the Cotswolds but also which hotels Cotswolds within those places.
There are many Cotswolds hotels and B&Bs. So I have curated them down to two fantastic places to stay in the Cotswolds.
When it comes to where to stay in the Cotswolds UK for those that love a good boutique hotel and some fantastic food it doesn’t get much better than these two stylish options.
- Where to Stay in the Cotswolds – The Painswick
- The Layout of The Painswick
- Rooms at The Painswick
- The Restaurant at The Painswick
- 1. Painswick Rococo Gardens
- 2. Stroud Farmers Market
- 3. Painswick Yew Trees
- Where to Stay in Cotswolds – Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa
- Rooms at Whatley Manor
- The Spa at Whatley Manor
- Restaurants and Bars at Whatley Manor
- The Grounds at Whatley Manor House
- 1. Visit Castle Combe
- 2. Westonbirt Arboretum
- 3. Malmesbury Abbey and Gardens
- 4. Tetbury
- How to Get to the Cotswolds
- Who Paid for What in this Post
Where to Stay in the Cotswolds – The Painswick
Tucked in one of the side streets of lovely Painswick is this stylish but oh so comfortable boutique hotel. The Painswick is all about the detail – from the design to the copywriting.
The hotel is in a beautiful old classic Painswick style house. The Painswick is one of the best places to stay in the Cotswolds UK.
The Layout of The Painswick
The ground floor of The Painswick is home to check-in as well as a coffee/drinks area. To the right on entry is the restaurant, home of dinner and breakfast.
The first floor at The Painswick has a very cool bar that screams order a cocktail. Next to it is another large room for relaxing, coffee, drinks. There is even a room with a pool table.
My favourite areas at the Painswick were those that were outdoors. There is a gorgeous balcony off the first-floor living room. It was covered in trademark Cotswolds wisteria when I visited and was just stunning.
There are then two other outdoor areas which are next to each other. One is a long slim patio which ends in a half stage.
The second area is a bit funkier with outdoor couches and heaters on a lovely green. The best bit is this area has a lovely view over the hills of the Cotswolds.
Rooms at The Painswick
I loved my room at The Painswick. It was on the top floor and was huge. I had lovely Cotswolds views in 2 directions. My bed was fantastic. So soft and comfortable.
The attention to detail at The Painswick continues in the room. The counting sheep sign next to the bathrobes. The handwritten welcoming note.
The treats box filled and ready to be enjoyed. The woollen hot water bottle. The retro radio. A carefully curated small selection of books in case you didn’t bring one.
The design is simple and stylish in the soft colours of the Cotswolds. The bathroom at The Painswick was a wonderful mix of funky stylish and classic.
The taps and claw tub bath speak of another time. But the funky tiles and main light are a modern twist. The toilet roll/magazine holder was a nice twist.
The Painswick also has treatment rooms and uses Elemis products. This is a great option if you are looking for a Cotswold hotel and spa.
The Restaurant at The Painswick
Dinner at The Painswick is an easily manageable shortlist of European treats. I enjoyed an amazing cauliflower velouté with salsa verde to start. Wow. So rich and creamy but not too heavy and infused with flavour.
Next up in my seafood frenzy was grilled salmon with broad beans, peas and herb gnocchi. The gnocchi was so soft and creamy.
Breakfast in the morning is served in the same room as dinner. There is a great buffet filled with lots of delicious cereals, yoghurt etc etc. Hot options come in a small menu.
I very much enjoyed the homemade crumpets with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
One of the best things about The Painswick is that it is located in Painswick! In my opinion, this is the best village to visit in the Cotswolds.
Here are some of the best things to do in Painswick:
1. Painswick Rococo Gardens
Painswick Rococo Gardens were designed as a “flamboyant pleasure garden” to delight guests at Painswick House in the 1740s. It was considered very experimental at the time with an eclectic mix of different quirky buildings. When it comes to the Cotswolds where to go this is a great option.
The Painswick Rococo Gardens were restored in 1984 after being neglected for some time and are now run as a charity. After entry, a short stroll takes you to an overview of the Painswick Rococo Gardens.
They are almost in a little valley so it is a stunning vista of the entire grounds. There are then options to walk in different directions around and then into the gardens.
The grounds at Painswick Rococo Gardens are just stunning with a variety of landscaping styles, flowers and even a maze. Obviously much is dependent on the time of year.
I was lucky enough to visit when a sculpture exhibition was about to kick off – the sculptures were cute and quirky and most importantly very photogenic.
2. Stroud Farmers Market
Running every Saturday in the village of Stroud, Stroud Farmers Market is perhaps the most well-known market in the South Cotswolds. There are actually two markets – the Shambles Market and a Farmer’s Market.
Stroud Farmer’s Market has a big range of ready to eat food and a seating area. This varies from local pies to a very long queue for falafels to some interesting vegetarian pasties which I enjoyed.
Stroud Farmer’s market is held at Cornhill Market Place and in the surrounding streets between 9 am and 2 pm every Saturday. There is plenty of parking but all will involve a bit of a walk – try the church carpark.
The Shambles Market runs every Friday and Saturday between 8 am and 4 pm.
Top Tip – many of the cute Cotswolds towns have farmer’s markets. Tetbury normally has one on a Friday and then Berkeley, Dursley and Nailsworth each have a market one Saturday morning each month.
3. Painswick Yew Trees
Painswick is my favourite Cotswold England towns. Painswick is very beautiful but not as cutesy as some of the other villages of the Cotswolds.
The highlight of Painswick is the churchyard and its unique yew trees. There are arches within the grounds made from the Yew Trees which are just lovely.
Painswick is also filled with little backstreet and made for wandering. The backstreets contain some cute pubs, shops and restaurants.
The town is also a great kick-off point or base for walking The Cotswolds Way. This is the most famous walking trail in the area.
Where to Stay in Cotswolds – Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa
Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa is one of the best-known spa hotels in the Cotswolds and a great place for a Cotswolds stay. The arrival to Whatley Manor is a little lane lined with lovely trees.
I immediately felt calmer as I drove down to the house. This is definitely a hotel that is made for relaxation and it very much feels like a home away from home.
Rooms at Whatley Manor
My room at Whatley Manor was large with a lovely view over the kitchen garden. It had a king-size plus bed which was split into very large twin beds.
The linen was outstanding. And as a fan of a high thread count on my sheets, I loved that there was a brochure all about the company in Yorkshire that provides the very comfortable mattresses.
There are lots of lovely touches in the room. In particular, I liked the pencil that wants to be a plant when it grows up.
Once the lead has been used it is possible to plant the stub and it will then grow into the plant written on the pencil – in our case thyme.
The room contained a proper coffee machine and tea facilities as well as some freshly made biscuits. There were a large couch and comfortable living space within the room.
Bathrobes and very plump slippers made getting to the spa comfortably easy. I did wear my robe to breakfast the next morning but was the only guest to do so.
The bathroom at Whatley Manor was so cosy! It featured a claw foot tub and a separate shower.
The Spa at Whatley Manor
The spa was my highlight. There is a nice “tunnel” that can be used from the main hotel to get to the spa area.
I didn’t have time to have any treatments but I am sure they are lovely. I was far too busy using the many facilities on offer for all guests.
Let’s start with the hydro pool. I quickly understood why the guy on reception had smiled deeply when I said I might swim some laps. That would have created a high level of dizziness in the circular pool.
The middle of the pool holds a little whirlpool with steel that needs to be clasped to stay in the one place. There are then these fantastic steel couches that sit in the water and become enveloped in bubbles.
It is just lovely sitting on them – and importantly very comfortable – while the water bubbles around you.
For me, the highlight was the outdoor component of the pool. It is possible to swim outdoors from indoors via the pool. The water is heated so it is just lovely being so cosy in the cool fresh air.
There are more full on jets here for problem spots. And another shorter steel couch which is lovely to sit on.
Of course, there are lovely sun loungers inside and out and many big fluffy towels available. The spa has a café that overlooks the pool. Then it was time to explore the warmer area.
Up to a short flight of stairs, there was a good deal on offer. The Whatley Manor Spa has a classic sauna, lower temperature steam room and a Caladium steam room which was my favourite – some great aromas and my kind of temperature. In between are rain/tropics showers and seating areas.
There are salt showers where it is possible to have a good scrub. And a lovely indoor relaxation area which would be perfect for keeping warm post-treatment.
⇒ Heading to Scotland? Check out my Scotland Itinerary 10 days, Scotland Itinerary 7 days, Glasgow Tours, Edinburgh Vaults Tour, Things to do in Dumfries and Galloway Things to do in Ayrshire, my guide to Climbing Ben Nevis and 9 great Spa Breaks Scotland.
Restaurants and Bars at Whatley Manor
There are several good-sized living areas at Whatley Manor with comfortable couches, fireplaces and chairs that beg for a newspaper and a blanket and bad weather outside.
This is also a great spot for pre-dinner drinks. In warm weather, there is a lovely area just outside. We kicked off with some lovely South African Chardonnay.
There are 3 dinner options. The first is the formal dining option which offers a tasting menu – and is appropriately called The Dining Room. Second is Grey’s Brasserie (where breakfast is served).
The third is The Green Room. The Green Room has been at Whatley Manor for some time.
However, it is only in the last few months that they have re-launched The Green Room as a tapas bar of sorts. It is smaller than the brasserie but cosier.
The room is dominated by a kitchen with counter seating. This allows guests to watch their tapas being prepared and have a chat with the chef.
There are some tables but only a few. As suggested, we started our meal here. We ordered four plates of tapas. The highlight was the cuttlefish with enoki mushroom.
I had never tried cuttlefish before and for some reason thought it would be something I didn’t like. I was completely wrong. It was absolutely delicious.
We then moved to Grey’s Brasserie for dinner. I ordered the lamb shoulder which was lovely but my friend Rachel trumped me with the crayfish fricassee which was amazing.
Not in the mood for sweet as we had had a few wines we enjoyed the cheese board for dessert. Breakfast is at Grey’s Brasserie.
There is no buffet – it is all ordered from a menu – and there are 2 courses. I so feel breakfast should be much more of a 3-course event. Anyway, we started with granola and Greek yoghurt.
We were also served delicious fresh croissants and strawberry pastries. For main was baked eggs with a vinaigrette and coriander – all with fresh sourdough bread.
Whatley Manor is a member of Pride of Britain Hotels, a collection of never more than 50 hotels to guarantee quality and exclusivity. They have some wonderful properties.
The Grounds at Whatley Manor House
The grounds at Whatley Manor are so beautiful and lush. I recommend having a stroll in them around sunset.
I lucked out and got some stunning photos with dark stormy clouds in the amazing sunset light of the Cotswolds.
Whatley Manor is definitely one of the special places to stay in Cotswolds. And one of the Cotswolds best places to stay in my opinion.
Malmesbury is the nearest of the Cotswold villages to Whatley Manor. There are some great things to do in Malmesbury and nearby. Here is my travel guide to the area near Whatley Manor.
1. Visit Castle Combe
So let’s start with the fact that this is a town and there is no castle. I didn’t realise this and couldn’t understand why none of the signs said castle. I had to pull over and google it.
But Castle Combe is one of the cutest Cotswolds villages and easy to see why it is so popular. It is also super close to the main motorway M4. This is literally one to just walk around and take photos.
2. Westonbirt Arboretum
I had never been to an Arboretum before visiting Westonbirt Arboretum and wondered how good they can be. I will now be an arboretum aficionado moving forward. I just loved it.
Westonbirt Arboretum was originally set up by the Holford family in Victorian times. Westonbirt is now The National Arboretum of the UK. The entry is very modern and well set up.
Upon arrival, I asked what was most photogenic/flourishing at the moment. Wonderfully they do a weekly map that highlights what is in bloom where – what a great idea.
The Old Arboretum was highlighted as the area to visit on the map of the week. It was just stunning. There were unusual trees that I had never seen before. I was reminded of Edward Scissorhands.
The Old Arboretum has been in place since 1839, led by Robert Holford who inherited the estate. Some of the trees have been at Westonbirt since the 1850s.
There are loads of benches throughout the Arboretum. With the birds tweeting away it is a lovely place to relaxing and rest. There is also a treetop walk, plenty of cafes and bathrooms and lots of things for kids.
For something different, you can also learn how to make chairs at the Westonbirt Arboretum. There are green woodwork courses as well as a woodwork workshop which can be visited.
3. Malmesbury Abbey and Gardens
Malmesbury is England’s oldest borough and known as the “Queen of the Hilltop Towns”. It is over 1000 years old.
It was originally intended to be a fort based on its hilltop location and the fact that it was encircled by two rivers.
It has a busy main street with lots of restaurants and shops. I enjoyed a delicious quiche and salad lunch at The Summer Café. If you feel like Italian the Birdcage is virtually next door and comes highly rated.
Malmesbury Abbey originated in the 12th century and is in the centre of town at the top of the High Street – virtually impossible to miss. The abbey contains an actual café so you can enjoy coffee and cake whilst in this beautiful building.
But the highlight of my trip to Malmesbury was the stunning Malmesbury Abbey gardens. These gorgeous gardens are like something out of a storybook.
The gardens have over 1300 years of history. Apparently, the first “King of all England” is buried somewhere here, two saints were apparently thrown down the well and lots of other good stories.
They are beautifully sculptured. I visited in May and the tulips were out and stunning. This is also a great place to take photos of the Abbey with the gardens bursting in the foreground.
Plus the garden has some nice sculptures that are very photogenic. The gardens are located next to the Abbey and have an entry fee. To my mind, they are one of the best places Cotswolds.
Tetbury is a classic cute Cotswolds village and a popular as a Cotswolds where to stay destination. It is most famous for its antique stores of which there are still many.
Don’t miss Lorfords on the main road – Europe’s largest collection of decorative antiques and it is recommended by Vogue.
Blue Zucchini is famous for its toasted sandwiches which were rather delicious. Plus there were some amazing looking cakes. There is a very cute outdoor seating area out the back of the café.
Prince Charles and Camilla live in this part of the Cotswolds in Highgrove. It is possible to visit their home – well the gardens – but this needs to be booked in advance. This can be done online.
There is also a Highgrove shop in Tetbury where visits can be booked and many souvenirs can be purchased.
Top Tip – if you’re visiting the Cotswolds between late April/early May to August visit the Hill Barn Farm to see its Cotswold Lavender Farm. Insta heaven as well as tea and cakes.
How to Get to the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is in South Central England – west of London. The area is 40km across and 140km long. The main town is Cirencester. The two boutique hotels in this post are both in the Southern area of the Cotswolds
If you’re coming from outside the UK then London is the best place to fly into for the Cotswolds. The easiest way to get to the Cotswolds from London is to take the train.
Paddington is the key station for trains to the Cotswolds – some great value options for UK rail passes are listed below. Option two is to join an organised day trip to the Cotswolds from London
Option three is hiring a car and driving yourself to the Cotswolds. Heathrow is a great place to pick up a hire car for the Cotswolds. Heathrow is the closest airport to the Cotswolds.
Also, picking up the car at Heathrow means you will avoid central London traffic which is always a good idea.
Getting to London and Getting Around:
I live in London and write about it frequently – I do believe it is the best city in the world. So if you’re spending some time in London you may want to read some of my articles:
⇒ Heading to London? Check out my posts on 13 Unusual Experiences in London, the best London Food Tours, my virtual London Travel Blog, some great Earlsfield restaurants, restaurants near Clapham Junction and Victoria Station restaurants, a mad hatter afternoon tea party and a day trip to Brighton and Cotswolds tour from London options.
Best Ways to get from the Airport into London
London has several airports. It can be confusing and expensive to get from each of the airports into central London. And the last thing you need after a flight. It is much easier to organize tickets before you fly.
Heathrow is the most common airport for international flights. The fastest way to get from Heathrow into Central London is the Heathrow Express.
This train only takes 15 minutes to get from Heathrow to Paddington Station and runs 4 times an hour. The Heathrow Express is much faster than a cab or any other option.
⇒ Save £5 per standard ticket on Heathrow express tickets
The lowest cost way to get from Heathrow to central London is the tube. The tube is actually one of the fastest options as well – and will get you the closest to your final destination.
⇒ Avoid the Queue – Book Your Heathrow airport to London tube
There is also a bus or coach option which drops passengers at Victoria Station. This is a cheap option but you will have to deal with London traffic! If you are taking this option during peak hour it could take up to 2 hours each way.
⇒ Book your national express Heathrow airport coach transfer
Gatwick Airport is south of London and can be quite the distance in a car. The Gatwick Express is the fastest option into London and runs directly from Gatwick to Victoria Station.
⇒ Book Here and Save £5 per standard ticket on your Gatwick express eticket
If you don’t need the express option there is a slightly slower-moving train that has several more options in terms of stops including Clapham Junction, Kings Cross St Pancras, and London Bridge.
The third option is the national express Gatwick airport coach transfer. This is the least expensive option but it can take some time with London traffic. There is one departure an hour and the average journey time is 90 minutes.
Getting Around London
When in London the tube and buses are absolutely the best way to get around town quickly and cheaply. The best way to pay for this is to get a London visitor oyster card– which you can order before you leave home.
There are a number of Brit Rail passes available. The BritRail London Plus Pass is the best option if you are planning to base yourself in London and take a few day trips. The Britrail England pass covers all of England including getting to and from the airport.
If you are planning on travelling around the south-west of England then BritRail South West Pass is the best option. Finally, if you’re planning on travelling around England and Scotland then the best option is to buy the BritRail GB Pass.
Stay in Touch in the UK
Grab a WorldSIM PrePaid Global SIM Card to stay in touch at reasonable prices. Access WIFI at local rates with the mobile wi-fi rental wireless internet anywhere you go in Britain. This in your pocket wifi can be picked up at Heathrow or Paddington Station.
Who Paid for What in this Post
Whatley Manor and The Painswick were both kind enough to host my Cotswolds accommodation and provide me with dinner and breakfast. I paid for my own hire car and my meals outside of the two boutique hotels as well as entrance fees to the things to do mentioned. As always, all of the opinions are my own.
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