boutique hotels cotswolds

ROOM AT THE INN: THE PORCH HOUSE, COTSWOLDS

There’s something about driving through the Cotswold countryside that’s both comforting and familiar. Passing through the beautiful town of Burford and arriving at Stow-on-Wold, it’s hard not to pack up your life, don a wax jacket and move here to embrace the boutique-way of living. A typical market town, Stow-on-Wold possesses the charm and beauty you would expect from a Jane Austin novel as people move quietly from shop to shop picking up their weekly groceries and last minute shopping. Situated on the bustling main street, The Porch House is a regular for residents and the odd pilgrim in need of an open fire and a pint of ale.


porch3

Ducking through the narrow hallways and low beams to our room, it’s difficult not to appreciate the original features of England’s oldest inn, which was built in 947 AD. Our suite was amazing and deceptively contemporary given the traditional interiors of the bar downstairs. With vaulted ceilings, pristine cream carpets and crisp white linens, it was a home away from home. Retro modern radio’s, old-fashioned phones and antique hand mirrors subtly bring you back to the inn’s heritage whilst remaining quirky in their stylish surroundings. A winding staircase leads up to the en suite complete with large roll-top bath and cosy hot water bottle for those dark winter nights. All of this was of course viewed from the meltingly comfortable bed, complete with pillows that swallow your whole head in a delicious puff of feathers.

Walking around the deserted town before dinner, it’s easy to see why so many people escape the rat race and implore a slower pace of life. Shops look as though they’re stately homes, and the stately homes look vaguely familiar as you realise they’re probably in one of your favourite films. Each retail outlet is a boutique offering an individual array of one-off finds and beautiful soft furnishings worthy of an interiors mag.

After collapsing into bed after a particularly busy day, my much-anticipated slumber finally begun at 2 am after the jovial punters below had departed. Although under no illusion that The Porch House is first and foremost a popular drinking hole, it also caters for sleeping guests that could benefit from a touch of sound-proofing perhaps.

CHRISTMAS IN THE COTSWOLDS: THE FUZZY DUCK

The Friday before Christmas was known as the worst day of the year to travel. Yet here we were, at rush hour on our way to the Cotswolds for two days of roaring fires, frosty walks and rustic, local food. Set in the picturesque Warwickshire hamlet of Armscote, The Fuzzy Duck is the kind of place you would only associate with winter in the countryside. Fantastically festive, complete with open fires, award-winning cuisine and a large wine cellar; everything a girl needs on a cold, Friday evening. We were led through the pub and through glass doors adorned with duck motifs to the sleeping quarters. Passing the rent-a-Hunter wellies in the foyer and up the decorated staircase, I could tell that this was my kind of pub.

image (47)

With just four rooms to offer, each has been lovingly created to ensure that every possible whim is catered for. Forgot your hair straighteners? No problem, they’ll lend you some. Feeling peckish? Delve into the complimentary crisps and Haribo sweets in your welcome hamper. This also includes his and hers fluffy slippers, softer-than-soft bed socks and more Baylis & Harding products than you could possibly use. Just what you need after a three-hour drive. The Mandarin room was spacious, quirky and stylishly decorated with whimsical duck pillows, wicker hearts and crisp white linens. And if your other half is getting on your nerves, there’s even a mysterious ladder leading up to another bed above the bathroom-genius!

Feeling peckish (excuse the pun) we ventured back downstairs to embark on the local cuisine. I opted for the Ham Hock Terrine with Piccalili and Brioche and what an excellent choice I made. The subtle oaky taste of the ham combined with the sweet after-taste of the brioche complimeted one another perfectly and left me wanting more. Sadly, it was over too quickly and it was onto the main course of Pan-fried Loch Duart Salmon Fillet, Crushed New Potatoes, Samphire, Brown Shrimp & Dill Butter Sauce. Although incredibly simple and something I would happily make at home, this was cooked exceptionally well, bursting with flavour and textures.

And if you fancy walking off that hearty menu, the friendly Fuzzy Duck team can provide you with walking maps and first-hand recommendations. So, make sure you wrap up warm and take in the surrounding rolling hills and beautiful nearby villages.

For further information visit The Fuzzy Duck’s website, here