Saturated with farmers markets, country pubs and Hunter wellingtons, the Cotswolds is the go-to location for smug city folk with weekend houses and loved-up couples looking for a romantic bolthole.
Although I dream about being the former, on this occasion I was the latter. With a storm raging outside and a three-hour drive ahead, suddenly a relaxing winter weekend was becoming a stressful risk of our safety. Hours of delays later, we entered the sleepy village of Crudwell just outside Cirencester in the dark, in the rain and in a mood!
However, on entering the large turquoise front door of The Rectory hotel, our frowns turned upside down. We were greeted with a warm smile and a roaring fire – without a single piece of paperwork to fill in we were swiftly taken up to our room (Pennsylvania), complete with oversized bed and rustic furnishings that instantly made us feel at home.
Communal tea-making facilities, mismatched furniture and original features give more of a guesthouse feel to this boutique hotel, allowing a refreshing independence and a more relaxed atmosphere. Although we were unlucky enough to encounter the hotel’s thin walls (combined with the unruly children of our neighbouring guests…), the house is large enough to come and go as you please without seeing a single soul throughout the day.
As the cold evenings draw in, a meal in the dining room is a must, with a spot-on menu brimming with modern interpretations of classics such as Rabbit Pie, all using locally sourced produce. If you fancy something a little more traditional, The Rectory’s sister company, The Potting Shed, is definitely worth a visit. Just a short stroll across the road this loveable village pub is a fantastic extension of the hotel with a real community feel and homely atmosphere. Although the food was a little less inspired, the staff were incredibly friendly and surprisingly attentive considering the volume of other diners.
Seating up to sixty guests in their beautiful garden room, The Rectory also offers a bespoke service for an English rose seeking an idyllic countryside wedding. With stunning landscaped gardens, a rural setting and quaint village church a stone’s throw away The Rectory is a perfect venue for a big day filled with romance and rustic charm.