Notorious for its honey-hued stone ancient cottages and winding streets dotted with centuries of old churches and pubs that date even further back. Cotswolds offers the best smart country retreats and sweet boutiques hotel – AIV quality standards. Choose from the pretty villages and their retreats that will meet your travel needs, as we bring to you the smartest pubs, spas, hotels, experiences, and entertainment that you will only find in the Cotswolds. Get inspired by Art In Voyage’s classic choice for a weekend break in the UK or a week-long escape
Partially edited from a Conde Nast Traveler article
Located in the North of Cotswolds, this is one of the districts smartest high streets with a smattering of art galleries and covetable interior shops. This village has a broadway Deli, where wisteria-draped stores have fresh produce outside for picnic lovers in urgent need for products. The village is home to the loveliest hotels in the Cotswolds, including the Dormy House, The Lygon Arms, and the Fish. For incredible views, tramp to the Broadway Tower and enjoy majestic landscapes of the village town.
The Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire
Upper and Lower Slaughter share a fascinating name, which derives from ‘miry place’. The link is the tiny River Eye, a tributary to the nearby river Windrush. Lower Slaughter is just off the Fosse Way and very conservation-minded, a wander alongside the stream seems like a privilege. People actually live here! The villages are considered to be one of the prettiest in the area and are well photographed and the village has been used for filming and productions. There aren’t many shops or pubs but caramel-colored stone houses are set along the low-lying stream, which horses regularly trot through. Near the village’s water mill there’s a museum/café, which sells hand-churned ice cream – on sunny days, grab a cone and sit on one of the stone bridges.
The Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire
The village of Upper Slaughter in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds is one mile away from Lower Slaughter and resides on a gentle grassy slope above the stream that connects the two villages. The walk from Lower to Upper Slaughter follows the River Eye, which flows through the neighboring villages. Upper Slaughter is equally as attractive – a ‘sainted village’ meaning that it lost nobody in the First World War. There is limited parking in the Slaughters, but they are easily reached on foot via a nice walk from Bourton-on-the-Water. For eateries, Upper slaughter offers a 17th-century hotel, The Lords of the Manor, which has a dining room overlooking the gardens for a tasting menu including dishes such as preserved lemon with scallops and veal.
Castle Combe lies in a valley and is considered to be one of the loveliest villages in the Cotswolds. It is one of the most visited and frequently finds favor as a backdrop for period television and cinema dramas. The classic view of the village is from across the bridge by the old weavers’ cottages. The small local museum is up the hill away from the village towards the parking area (where tourists to the village are requested to park). This village is also notorious for its racecourse circuit, where the west country’s home of motorsport that has been welcoming fans of racing, car shows, and events for the past 70 years.
The village of Blockley is a unique collection of buildings reflecting its past glory of mills and silk production and is quite different in character to other north Cotswolds villages. The pretty village green at Blockley overlooks a hill that sweeps down to the Norman church. It’s an under-the-radar corner of the Cotswolds, which means you can stroll the peaceful streets without contending with daytrippers. A short drive away in busier Moreton-on-Marsh, the Cotswold Cheese Co draws dairy lovers with more than 80 artisan cheeses from whiskey-smoked brie to Oxford Blue Round.
Chipping Campden is quite simply one of the finest towns in the Cotswolds – well-preserved and full of history, but also full of life and bustle. The town has a lively calendar of events, including the famous Cotswold Olympics, founded in the 17th century by Captain Robert Dover and still celebrated every year – a bizarre mix of sports, games, and village festivities. Chipping Campden has no shortage of excellent places to eat, drink and stay in with some excellent Cotswold hotels, pubs, and B&Bs, as well as plenty of holiday cottages to rent. Chipping Campden makes an excellent base for a holiday, with a number of notable gardens nearby, including Hidcote and Kiftsgate, and with wonderful walks in the area, including the 104 mile Cotswold Way, which starts in the town and follows the escarpment all the way to Bath.
Set in the broad Evenlode valley with wide-open village greens and gardens at its Northen end bordered by elegant cottages. Kingham is a peaceful and secluded village, chosen as Country Life’s ‘England’s Favourite Village’, yet it has a mainline train service to London – only 90 minutes away. The station is about a mile from the village center. Kingham is described as the most cosmopolitan of the Cotswolds villages where London residents decamp to when they need a from the City. The village is an excellent center for walks, cycling, foodie destinations, and attractions which include Churchill and Sarden Heritage center.
Stanton is a small village on the edge of the Cotswold Hills escarpment near the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border in England. Its history is dating back to Iron Age times, while it is a village of unspoiled beauty and charm that is still easily appreciated today. The handsome village has retained a sense of authenticity, lacking the tea rooms and cute shops that dominate others. Stanton is a typical Cotswold sleepy village with no signs of commercialization or shops, except for The Mount pub which stands on the amount at the end of the village with spectacular views across the Vale of Evesham towards the Malvern Hills and Welsh mountains beyond.
Bourton On The Water
Located in a small valley amongst the gentle rolling hills of the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is a ‘must-see’ for all visitors to the area. This popular village is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ because of the attractive little bridges that cross the gently flowing River Windrush, which runs through the center of the village. Bourton has a charm all of its own at any time of the year. In summer, locals take to the stream that runs through the heart of Burton-on-the-Water for a game of traditional river football. It dates back over a century and draws hundreds of spectators. But it’s not the only attraction in this village, where the traditional cottages that sit on the riverfront have nearly all been turned into antique shops, cafés, and pubs.
Set in the hilltop splendor of Cheltenham near Stroud, Painswick’s sloping streets lead the eye to the surrounding unspoiled countryside, where walkers can stomp across the Painswick Valley. This beautiful historic wool town is one of the best-preserved settlements in the Cotswolds, built from the mellow honey-colored stone quarried from nearby Painswick beacon. Things to do in Painswick include exploring the narrow streets, to unearth some fascinating galleries and shops, including the Art Couture Painswick Gallery. Friendly pubs serve locally-brewed ales and there are some excellent cafes and restaurants. Travel-worry free as accommodation in Painswick ranges from luxury boutique hotels to homely bed & breakfasts, self-catering cottages and friendly inns.
Stow On The Wold
Located on the Roman Fosse Way and at the point where several roads meet. Stow-on-the-Wold is a delightful market town and along with Moreton in Marsh, perhaps the best known of the small Cotswolds towns. Stow-on-the-Wold is the highest of the Cotswold towns standing exposed on 800 feet high Stow Hill at a junction of seven major roads, including the Roman Fosse Way. The Market Square is large and impressive and testifies to the town’s former importance. It is surrounded by townhouses, independent shops, antique centers, cozy cafes, and inns all built in the mellow local stone, and it has been the focus of town life over many centuries, with the medieval market stocks at one end, the ancient market cross at the other and the impressive St Edwards Hall standing in the center.
Burford is situated in the North of Oxfordshire, twenty miles west of Oxford, and is considered the Southern gateway to the Cotswolds. Technically a town rather than a village, tiny Burford is known for its thatched-roof cottages and 12th-century church. A beautiful old Cotswold town, it’s High Street sloping from the high Wolds, where you have beautiful views over the open countryside, down to the willow fringed River Windrush in the pretty Windrush valley. Burford has smart restaurants and even cool gardening center, Burford Garden Company, which draws green-fingered local fans such as Kate Moss and Liz Hurly.