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.


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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.

LUNCHING AT THE FIVE ALLS, COTSWOLDS

Stumbling across a small country pub in the sleepy village of Filkins, Gloucestershire, it’s hard to imagine that there’s a lot more to this traditional watering hole than first meets the eye. When owners Sebastian and Lana Snow decsended on the suburban surroundings from London with their young family, they transformed this 18th-century Cotswold stone building into a vibrant local with a warm, family-feel and the occasional familiar face. Having trained under Anthony Worrall Thompson. Sebastian originally took up the role of head chef at the nearby gastro pub, The Swan before opening the Five Alls with his wife. The interior is stylish and comfortable with no danger of intimidation thanks to the hands of Sebastian’s sister, the interior designer Miranda Snow. Mismatched rugs, original fireplaces and low beams are combined with vintage wallpapers, leather Chesterfields and modern prints, adding a touch of city cosmopolitan to the mix.

After a day of rambling, the menu is a welcome selection of sharing platters, pub classics and the odd superfood salad (it does have nutritionist, Rosemary Ferguson as an investor after all). Usinf fresh, locally-sourced produce I opted for the slightly flavourless Butternut Squash, Goats Cheese and Lentil salad which came in a sizeable portion and defeated me within minutes. Although scattered with pomegranates, the dish was overwhelmed with lentils, leaving little room for any other flavours to come through. However, the main course was a welcome taste sensation of Open Ravioli of Crab, Chilli, Coconut and Pangrattata. The overly-generous portion of crab was perfectly accompanied by a hint of spice and creamy coconut accents in between fresh pasta sheets. To finish, the Peacan Pie was sweet, earthy and wonderfully festive.

With Prime Minister’s adorning the walls, Take That members eating at the next table and staff talking about Kate (Moss, of course) as though she is just another regular, Five Alls is a gem in the Cotswold countryside, and an unassuming venue for the odd celeb-spot.

A Rectory Retreat

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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. (more…)