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Love a gastro pub? Then you’ll love the Cotswolds. It’s full of ’em. Yes, they’ll mostly be painted in Farrow & Ball; yes, they’ll feature local produce; and yes, if you’re lucky they’ll have homemade dog biscuits too. But which are the best? Well, let’s start with the newest, and perhaps most stylish of them all, The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, up in the north. It’s owned by the folk behind Daylesford (a Cotswold foodie mecca down the road – farm shop, cookery school and café), has an open kitchen so you can see all the action, and boasts 12 boutique rooms upstairs. Walk a few paces and you’ll fi nd another of the Cotswold big

hitters, The Kingham Plough, with up-and-coming celebrity chef Emily Watkins behind the pass. The Fuzzy Duck, a bit further north in Armscote, ticks every single gastro pub box and then some. It’s owned by the family behind Baylis & Harding, so the beautiful rooms are kitted out with nice smellies, while the bar and restaurant downstairs are geared up for every hungry member of the family, from Rover (there’s a Doggy Welcombe Pack available!) to ‘Little Ducklings’. Chow down on the Cotswold duck Scotch egg at the bar while you bask in your good decision-making. Head back down south to the Ebrington Arms for some of the

most understated but stylish rooms above a 17th-century inn. There are three craft ales on tap from the pub’s own Yubberton Brewing Company – Yubby Bitter, YPA and Yawnie – as well as a few other local brews. For reputedly the oldest inn in England (the medieval

fi replace still bears witches’ marks), head to Stow-on-the-Wold to The Porch House. To say it had a major renovation last year would be an understatement, for it’s a beaut – there are 14 good-value rooms, a modern British bar and restaurant area, and the fi sh pie we had there in November still makes us quiver somewhat inappropriately. The bathtubs at The Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach, and its

new sister boutique hotel, No 131 in Cheltenham, have a similar effect, while both restaurants are headed up by executive chef Antony Ely. Even if you only have dinner in the former, be sure to stay at No 131, if only for the homemade cookies and Thermos of hot milk and chocolate of the turn-down service. If you love the luxury of a hotel, also try the unashamedly

DORMY HOUSE The £10m relaunch of Dormy House (and its decadent spa) near Broadway was big news in the Cotswolds, and for the DFLs (‘down from London’) last year, and now the venue, complete with in-house gastro pub, spa lounge eatery and fine-dining restaurant, sees the arrival of new head chef Jon Ingram. Jon comes from the Intercontinental in Westminster, and plans to take the three restaurants to “the next level”.

quirky Cotswolds 88, with its three AA Rosettes, in the tiny village of Painswick near the Cotswolds’ foodie capital, Stroud – expect snakeskin on the tables, leather on the bar and curry in the desserts – or the Cotswold House Hotel, the home of the North Cotswold food festival, BITE. Charingworth Manor, not too far away, is for the traditionalists, while for Michelin stars without too hard a pricetag to swallow, head to Lords of the Manor Hotel in Upper Slaughter, where you can get three courses for £69. Why not ask for a bottle of Gloucestershire’s own Three Choirs wine to be left in your room, too? Or how about tying in a trip with

a cookery course? You could try and spot Kate Moss or Anne Robinson in The Swan in Southrop (it’s their


hood), and then pop over the road for accommodation in one of the fi ve luxury cottages and cookery workshops at Thyme at Southrop Manor. Be sure to have a gander round the gardens, which were designed by Bunny Guinness, no less. What else is there to do in the Cotswolds? Well, you’ve got to

Left, from top going clockwise: Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, overlooking the majestic Watergate Bay; Thyme at Southrop Manor has luxuriously relaxing cottages and a school; The Wild Rabbit has been impressing with its food and accommodation; The Thyme banquet room; and Rick Stein’s Seafood School

take tea, natch. Try The Dial House in Bourton-on-the-Water if you like it elegant (they’ve got four-poster beds), and shoehorn in a visit to the Model Village and Birdland while you’re there. If the weather’s good enough, be sure to twitch, too, at South Cerney Lakes. Our favourite spot is from the terrace on The Old Boathouse supping on a pint of Stowford Press, and if you want to stumble to a bedroom nearby, there’s the Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel within walking distance. Make time to pop over to Tetbury. You could have breakfast

in Café 53, or a hot chocolate snuggled in the reindeer furs people watching outside Blue Zucchini, then settle in for the night at the newly restored Royal Oak. Get involved with the DIY Bloody Mary Bar every Sunday. Or, and we take no responsibility for burst seams or buttons popped, book into The Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton for its Pudding Club. Think: a club of puddings. It even has themed rooms…


We don’t really need to sell Cornwall, do we? Beautiful beaches, lush countryside, sailing, surfi ng… and it’s home to the pasty, for goodness sake. Need we say more? Well, yes; yes we do. Because if we’re driving for four-plus hours we want a good meal at the end of it, right? One of our favourite corners of the county, if we’re hungry at

least, is Padstow – think of it as Rick Stein’s Graceland (Padstein, if you will). He’s got three places to eat in the pretty fishing village alone: St Petroc’s Bistro, his Café and The Seafood Restaurant, where you can also stay. Last time we visited we spotted the man himself dining across the bar with son and fellow chef, Jack. You’ll need to ‘shell out’ (Oh, come on!) a fair amount to try the fresh fi sh and seafood here, but it will be some of the best you’ll ever have. Make sure you fashion a bib and try the Singapore chilli crab. You’ve also got Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 up in village itself, and defi nitely worth a gander. Tie the trip in with a visit to Rick’s Padstow Seafood

School (oh, didn’t we mention? He’s got one of those too – and a deli, if you’re asking), which is only a short walk from the restaurant and overlooks the estuary. The team have just introduced a new Indian Street Food one-day course to the curriculum, alongside the Original Fish and Shellfish and Simply Fish courses; they start at £255 for the day course and B&B at the café. Across the estuary, over at Trebetherick, The St Moritz Hotel

is offering its own Gourmet Break for £330 per person. The three-night luxury package includes a fi ve-course tasting menu in the hotel’s open-kitchen restaurant, created by executive head chef Jamie Porter, dinner at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in Watergate Bay (which surely has to win the prize for the best window-seat views), and dinner at Rick’s Seafood Restaurant, plus accommodation at St Moritz, breakfast and return transfers to all the restaurants. Yay – wine time too!


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