The Cotswolds is a place that has to be seen to be believed. Its trademark chocolate-box villages lined with honey-hued rows of stone houses may sound like something straight out of a paint-by-numbers kit, but what you see in the pictures really is what you get. A stay at the stately Lords of the Manor will further cement your idyllic imagining of one of the country’s most beautiful regions – and will leave you wishing you could stay for weeks.
Sitting pretty in the village of Upper Slaughter, hemmed in by acres of rolling hills dotted with trickling streams, Lords of the Manor has been a feature of the village since 1649, having been originally purchased as a private family bolthole from Henry VIII. Over the ages, this beautiful property has enjoyed a rich history – housing a mix of esteemed gentry, reverends and even the army in the years since. Like its former inhabitants, you’ll be given the royal treatment even before you roll up the pebbled driveway, with a personalised email from a staff member shooting its way into your inbox when you first book.
You’ll find the same impeccable service from the second you arrive to the moment you say your final farewells. Once you’ve pulled onto the gravel driveway, a duty manager will greet you at the door with a warm handshake and a helping hand with your luggage. Following a quick but informative tour of the building, you’ll be shown to your room – one of just 26 on the property, each replete with country-style decor and the type of rural charm that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Jane Austen novel. Rooms here are spacious and beautifully appointed, expertly weaving original features together with fancy flourishes – think mahogany-coloured, hardwood furniture, embroidered drapes and elegant velvet armchairs. Four-poster beds topped with stacks of fluffy pillows and crisp sheets ensure a restful night’s sleep, while modern bathrooms with top-notch amenities make you feel right at home. Don’t miss the homemade cookies and tea and coffee-making facilities, with the option of having fresh milk delivered to your room, too.
As you’re smack dab in the middle of Upper Slaughter, you’re perfectly placed to explore the surrounding villages, revelling in a level of peace and quiet that only the depths of the English countryside can provide. Lower Slaughter is just a 15-minute walk along a public pathway passing fields blanketed with wild flowers – and some wildlife too, if you’re lucky. Once here, you’ll find rows of tiny cottages with brightly painted doors, flanked by the Old Mill and a tea shop selling ice cream and souvenirs. A little further along, via a pretty riverside walkway, lies the popular tourist spot Bourton-on-the-Water. Labelled the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ because of its cobbled bridges criss-crossing over the River Eye (which runs directly through its centre), it’s easy to see why it attracts visitors year-round. Stop to mingle in the quaint pubs and cafes lining the banks, between snapping photos of your surroundings (naturally). Once you’ve spent time getting to know the area, retreat back to the hotel’s picturesque gardens or plush bar area to enjoy a glass of Pimms or a spot of cream tea, as you take in the scenery.
Meals here are a relaxed affair, with dishes crafted from fresh, flavourful produce designed to fuel you up after a day of exploring (spot the chefs picking fresh herbs from the garden as you eat). You’ll find a menu jam-packed with flavourful fare like appetisers of crispy squid and watermelon gazpacho, juicy sirloin and blush-pink salmon for mains, and to top it all off, gloriously indulgent sticky toffee pudding. Attentive service makes dining here even more enjoyable (and the views across the landscaped gardens don’t hurt either). All meals are served in the cosy dining room, including breakfast where you’ll find a continental spread brimming with warm, flaky croissants, fresh fruit and cereals, plus steaming mugs of coffee and your choice of a hot breakfast – from a full English to smoked salmon and buttery scrambled eggs.
If you’re feeling extra fancy, the newly-opened Atrium offers a five-course tasting menu featuring inventive dishes cooked up using the very best seasonal produce. With three AA Rosettes to its name, expect beautifully presented dishes and expert wine pairings that make the whole experience intoxicating from start to finish.