My stay in the Cotswolds was exactly what I was hoping for. Magical. I *unknowingly* discovered the Cotswolds in 2006, when The Holiday came out. Part of this Christmas movie had been filmed here and it had captured my attention right away. I dreamt of meandering down cobblestone streets. Wandering through neighborhoods of little thatched cottages. Running into Jude Law in the grocery store. You get it. I was hooked. I was only 17 at the time and the memory of seeing the Cotswolds on the big screen has stayed with me for the past 12 years.
As I drove into the Cotswolds from Bath, I felt an immediate sense of peace and serenity. Before my UK road trip began, the Cotswolds is what I imagined all of England to look like. With its rolling green hills, winding narrow roads, its thatched cottages. The Cotswolds is the classic definition of English charm and in 1966 was designated as an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Once I reached the region I drove up north until I came to Stow-on-the-Wold. This is where I would be spending my 24-hours. I checked into my auspicious bed and breakfast, Number Nine, and flashed an ear-to-ear grin. I had finally arrived.
What to know….
If you’re planning a trip to the Cotswolds there are some things to know. First off, the “Cotswolds” is an entire region. It would be like referencing a state. One can say that they are in “Nebraska”, but you’re more specifically in a city such as “Omaha”. Think of the “Cotswolds” as a region, and know that there are many “towns” you can stay in. For this very reason I would highly recommend having a car if you’re planning on visiting the Cotwolds. This way you can visit multiple towns and get a true feel for the entirety of the Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds is a quiet, relaxing, slow-paced place. I chose Stow-on-the-Wold because it seemed to be a bit busier than the other villages. If you’re spending 24-hours in this village you can walk the dainty streets, popping in and out of mom and pop stores speaking with the locals. Grab a drink at The Porch, the oldest inn in England. Sit for tea at The Old Bakery Tearoom or grab lunch at The Hive. If you’re looking to see more of the Cotswolds than one particular town, I would suggest spending your day village hopping.
If you’re driving up north through the Cotswolds, make your first stop in Bibury. A classic Cotswolds village, one of the most famous, displaying rows of thatched cottages. From Bibury continue further up north, 12-miles, until you come upon Bourton-on-the-Water, best known for its beautiful low bridges. If you continue up north four more miles you will come to Stow-on-the-Wold, a more-lively village in the Cotswolds. And ten miles north of that will bring you to the top of the Cotswolds and a more peaceful Chipping Campden.
For me, the Cotswolds was a dream come true. Upon driving away to my next stop, I felt every fiber of my being pulling me back into the villages to wander the streets for just a bit longer. I wanted to sip on mulled wine and stare at the cottages and listen to passerby’s speak with their English accent. One day, I will go back and take my time slowly moving through all of the different villages. My hope is that you will do the same.