10 of the best historic hotels in the Cotswolds

The Double Red Duke

Here are 10 of the best historic hotels in the Cotswolds, according to the experts at The Good Hotel Guide

With its gentle landscapes and picture-postcard villages, the Cotswolds AONB is rich in history, attested to in numerous hotels and inns. Here the editors of The Good Hotel Guide describe a few of the best properties with a past, from a spectacular Tudor Castle and a veritable Victorian palazzo, to a hostelry that hosted Charles I and his nemesis in the Civil War, and a pub that featured in a Harry Potter movie.

Thornbury Castle, Thornbury, Gloucestershire

Wonderfully atmospheric, this fortified manor house, built for Edward Stafford, 3rd Earl of Buckingham, stands on the Cotswolds borders, with rose garden, privy garden, goodly garden and labyrinth. When Stafford was executed for treason, Henry VIII seized the manor, which passed in turn to Edward VII and Mary I. Interiors are filled with antiques and oil portraits. A four-poster suite used by Henry himself and Anne Boleyn now benefits from a minibar, espresso machine and flat-screen TV. In the panelled dining room, menus include such dishes as pork with sand carrot, radish and miso (no roast swan or peacock, larks or doucets).

B&B doubles from £269, à la carte £85, tasting menu £95, thornburycastle.co.uk

Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire

Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter

A portrait of former resident Ferdinando Tracy Travell, author of The Duties of the Poor (1783), hangs in the landing of this former rectory, much extended since it was built in 1640. From 1808, it was home to the Reverend Francis Edward Witts, whose journals are published as The Complete Diary of a Cotswold Parson. ‘Lords’ bedrooms in the oldest part of the house have lovely garden and countryside views. In Atrium restaurant there are tasting menus for omnivores and veggies, or you can eat à la carte in the dining room, such dishes as sea bream, brown shrimp, piquillo pepper sauce vièrge.

B&B doubles from £192, tasting menu £110 (Atrium), à la carte £53 (Dining Room), lordsofthemanor.com

Cowley Manor, Cowley, Gloucestershire

Cowley Manor

Modelled on Rome’s Villa Borghese and built in the mid-1800s, this mansion overlooks an Italianate landscape, planted with ginkgo biloba, cypress and sequoia. Natural springs feed a lake, with a water staircase flowing between lakes, watched over by stone lions and eagles, in grounds said to have inspired Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. This in turn inspired the ‘Alice’ chessboard motif in designer Dorothée Meilichzon’s interiors. The look is a beguiling mix of witty, arty modern and superb Victorian craftsmanship. Take afternoon tea in the beautiful dining room (no mad hatters here), or dine on such dishes as côte de boeuf with smoked bone marrow and baby onions.

B&B doubles from ££348, à la carte £60, cowleymanorexperimental.com

The Lygon Arms, Broadway, Worcestershire

The Lygon Arms

An inn that hosted both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell has impeccable historic credentials. Above the door a frieze is inscribed ‘1620’, but there was a coaching inn, the White Hart, on the site in the 1300s. With its towering gables, the hostelry is an imposing presence on the High Street, while within you find a warren of nooks, crannies, snugs and crackling fires. The panelled, four-poster Charles I suite has a fireplace adorned with the royal coat of arms. In the barrel-vaulted Grill, overlooked by a minstrel’s gallery, a bistro-style menu has something for every taste, but if you just fancy a ploughman’s and a pint, opt for the Tavern.

B&B doubles from £243, à la carte £65, lygonarmshotel.co.uk

Burleigh Court, Brimscombe, Gloucestershire

Burleigh Court

With views over Stroud’s Five Valleys, this Georgian manor house stands in landscaped gardens with Victorian dipping pool, lofty cedars, purple beech and Californian redwood. The building dates from around 1800 and was remodelled in the 1930s by Clough Williams-Ellis, architect of Italiante Portmeirion village in Snowdonia. Guide readers love the happy atmosphere, the warm welcome, the fresh, country-house style interiors with contemporary furniture, antiques and paintings. Some of the best bedrooms have a four-poster. In the panelled dining room, farm-to-fork seasonal and tasting menus bring such dishes as tempura of Burleigh garden courgette flower with mushroom mousse and crispy mushrooms.

B&B doubles from £154, à la carte £50, burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk

George Inn, Barford St Michael, Oxfordshire

Under a thatched roof, this 17th-century, honeyed stone village inn has been reimagined as a gastropub-with-rooms with no loss to its home-from-home atmosphere. In the bar you’ll find beams and horse brasses, a blazing log-burner on cold days, flagged floors, comfy banquette seating, stone walls jazzed up with vintage film posters. The clever blend of original pub features and modern comforts extends to the menu, which mixes burger, steak and fish and chips with sharing boards, maybe pumpkin ravioli or venison stew. There are three bedrooms within the pub, six dog-friendly rooms in converted stables.

B&B doubles from £160, à la carte £40, thegeorgebarford.co.uk

The Double Red Duke, Clanfield, Oxfordshire

Double Red Duke

A handsome, 17th-century, gabled wool merchant’s-house-turned-coaching inn, the former Cotswold Plough was transformed in lockdown in fun, country-chic style, and renamed in honour of a hero of local folklore, a farmer who gave away his double red corn to the villagers. Mullioned windows and sloping flagstone floors attest to the building’s age, while every bedroom is individually styled, with designer fabrics and wallpapers and bespoke artisan pieces. There are open fires and comfy nooks and corners. Pub grub and flame-cooked dishes win high praise. Arts and Crafts lovers will want to visit William Morris’s Kelmscott, minutes away.

B&B doubles from £183,, à la carte £40, countrycreatures.com/double-red-duke/

The King’s Head Inn, Bledington, Gloucestershire

There is a more olde worlde ambience at this friendly local gastropub, a 16th-century former cider house right on the village green, where ducks bob on a brook. You can eat and drink in a cosy bar with open fire, stone walls, beams, brasses and high-back settles, or in the dining room, from a menu of pub favourites and such imaginative dishes as split-pea, lentil and coconut dahl, roasted nuts, crispy kale and basmati rice, or pan-roasted local venison. Characterful rooms upstairs and in a separate courtyard building mix a shabby-chic aesthetic and bric-a-brac with designer wallpaper and bespoke toiletries.

B&B doubles from £120, à la carte £40, thekingsheadinn.net

Sign of the Angel, Lacock, Wiltshire

If you feel as if you’ve walked onto a movie set when you arrived at this medieval village, you’re not wrong. The Other Boleyn Girl and Larkrise to Candleford were filmed here, while the quaint old half-timbered 15th-century inn. a one-time weaver’s house, complete with horse passage, doubled as the Babbington Arms in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. There are five dog-friendly beamed bedrooms and a panelled guest sitting room, log fires, pub staples and more adventurous dishes (maybe venison pithivier, cep and pickled blackberries).

B&B doubles from £110, single from £80, a la carte £45, signoftheangel.co.uk

Calcot Manor Hotel, Tebury, Gloucestershire

Upon the dissolution of monasteries, the manor of Calcot was gifted by Henry VIII to courtier Sir Nicholas Poyntz, High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, including a 16th-century manor house and a tithe barn built in 1300 as an annexe to Kingswood Abbey. The house has been a luxury hotel since 1984, while the barn is an events space, though, to this day, residents of Mariemount, Ohio, can see the original tiles, shipped out in 1928 to roof the new Memorial Church. Some bedrooms have exposed beams, but the hotel wears its history lightly, with modern comforts, modern artworks, and modern brasserie dining (fish and chips, venison lasagne, lobster Thermidor…). There is a spa with outdoor fireside hot tub, a Technogym and a cosseting ambience.

B&B doubles from £314, à la carte £45, calcot.co

This selection is taken from the Good Hotel Guide’s Hotels in the Cotswolds

Read more from BRITAIN:

William Morris at Kelmscott Manor: Life’s rich tapestry

Cotswolds villages: Pretty as a picture

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