On a whim, as weekends are best planned, we hopped over the English channel to conquer the Cotwolds (and as many pubs as we could possibly fit inside of 48 hours). All winter, I’ve been longing to revisit the English countryside, tuck into a Beef Wellington with a pint of ale beside the roaring fireplace of a traditional pub– as British and as old as they come. So that was my goal for the weekend, among a few other things…
Where we Stayed:
Our little country inn, tucked away in a tiny peaceful village, was without a doubt the highlight of my weekend. If you’re heading to the Cotswolds for a relaxing break from the urban jungle, look no further than The Ebrington Arms.
Once serving as the village’s shop, bakery and butcher (it’s still the only trading post in the village), this picturesque inn has been around since 1640.
One of those places you can imagine the old highwaymen taking rest in for the night, the Ebrington Arms ticked all my boxes…
- Friendly pub where all the village locals gather after sundown
- History in its walls
- Roaring fires
- English cuisine done right (we ate there both nights).
- Cozy guest bedrooms overlooking the countryside
- Easy on the budget
Check! The Ebrington Arms is a reason alone to make a trip to the Cotswolds.
What We Saw:
You probably know by now that I’m mad for anything miniature, so when I discovered there was a miniature village in the heart of the Cotswolds, of course it was the first destination on the GPS…
The Bourton-on-the-Water Model Village is a one-ninth scale replica of the heart of the beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water, containing every single building from the post office to the local Chinese takeaway, all built in Cotswold stone. There’s even a miniature village within the miniature village, within the miniature village!
Tower above the miniature stone houses, squeeze through the tiniest streets and inspect the little details behind the windows. It’s all in good fun.
If I had one complaint for my Cotswolds weekend, it would be the opening season dates of the area’s National Trust estates. There was one in particular that I was rather desperate to visit– Snowshill Manor, the 16th century time capsule home of an eccentric English collector, packed with extraordinary treasures…
Unfortunately, this estate, along with many others in the area, does not reopen for the season until mid-March. But if you’re in the Cotswolds at the right time, please go and see this for me.
There was one other estate on my list and this time, we didn’t let the closing season deter us. We also had some flying practice to do with the new Messy Nessy drone, and we thought Sezincote House would be just the place to do it. We took the GPS scenic route down an unmarked country road, following a hunt up the hill and asked directions to the house as they were returning to the stables. We were advised that we could park around the back of the house in the woods. And so, we had Sezincote to ourselves (at least until we spotted the caretaker’s quarters).
It’s quite a stunning estate, heavily influenced by Indian architecture, built in 1805 by a wealthy surveyor for the British East India Company. Sezincote House is open from May to September and can also be hired for events.
Not Rapunzel’s Tower but the Cotswold’s highest castle, Broadway Tower is another quirky local visit, open all year round. Built “just for fun” by the land’s aristocratic owner in 1798, they say it served as a lookout tower for his servants to know he was coming home. It was later used as a unique vantage point to track enemy planes over England during the world wars of the 20th Century. A nuclear bunker was also constructed on the property to report nuclear attacks during the “Cold War”. You can visit that too when it reopens in April 2017.
What We Ate:
When I return to England, all I seem to want is pub food. The Cotswolds does have some nice fancy restaurants, but all I’m really interested in is your beef wellingtons, your mushy peas, fish & chips and all that good stuff. I’m willing to get quite “adventurous” with my English pub grub and I’ve been known to order the strangest dishes on the menu…
Yes, I ordered that ↑ (I’m a pro-pineapple pizza kinda gal). I’m not really one to take my tavern food too seriously as you can tell, but I do care about the authentic pub atmosphere. Family-run, at least a century or two old, preferably with a fire.
I made a hit list of the perfect local pubs for lunch or afternoon pints and so I’ll share that with you below. You can stick with the fish & chips if pineapple Gammon isn’t quite your thing.
Authentic English Pubs near Ebrington:
Horse & Groom in Bourton-on-the-Hill
Fox Inn in Broadwell
The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold
Horse & Groom in Upper Oddington
The Mousetrap Inn in Bourton-on-the-Water
Inn on the Marsh in Moreton-in-the-Marsh
And don’t forget to visit a few tea rooms and order cream tea & scones (there are plenty of charming tearooms to choose from in every town).
Where we Shopped:
Bourton-on-the-Water is a fairytale English town, but be prepared for it to get overrun by tourists on weekends. Still worth visiting, especially for the Model Village I showed you earlier, but also a great place to get your fix of kitschy English style for gifts and souvenirs.
The highlight of my Cotswolds shopping experience was this little bookshop in the antiques town of Stow-on-the-Wold. I went a bit nuts inside Evergreen Livres, filled with the most magical second-hand books, including some very valuable collector’s ones. Hidden down a tiny alleyway, run by the sweetest old man who let me browse even though the shop had closed, this one is a must visit. I dedicated an entire post to my purchase here. Find the bookshop hidden behind the main market square, follow the passage through the doorway next to the Talbot Pub.
I hope you enjoyed my little weekend guide and might find it useful one day. In the meantime, travel with me from your armchair in our video guide …