Tuesday 7 May 2019 / London, UK

The Ultimate Guide To 3 Days In The Cotswolds: Where To Stay, What To Do, Where To Eat

Where do you go when you're tired of inhaling bus fumes and falling asleep to the sound of horns bibbing and sirens screeching? Why The Cotswolds of course. With over 800 square miles of honey coloured cottages, rolling hills and unspoilt village after unspoilt village on offer, it's not difficult to see why millions of people flock to The Cotswolds every year. 

As much as I'm a city girl at heart, I can always be tempted to escape London for the weekend in search of a cosy cottage, country walks and of course an open fire. Whilst in the middle of a post Christmas comedown with no plans to look forward to, it was time to change that, by booking a much needed country escape to The Cotswolds. I rounded the troops (my besties) up and within the week we'd found and reserved a dreamy cottage on Airbnb and had booked ourselves some annual leave, in preparation for 3 glorious days in The Cotswolds. 


To get the true Cotswolds experience, staying in a hotel was out of the equation, so in stepped good ol' Airbnb, who came through with this beautiful 2 bed cottage located in the heart of The Cotswolds in the village of North Cerney. Surrounded by fields and greenery, Mole End Cottage was the perfect balance of secluded and atmospheric, with a scattering of pubs on our doorstep and one main road, leading to all the most popular villages that make up The Cotswolds. 

Upon arrival, we were greeted with an adorable hamper full of croissants, jams, milk, eggs etc. from our host (5* Airbnb review for you honey) and an immaculately clean and cosy cottage setting for us to set up in camp in for the next 2 nights. With 4 adults and one baby in tow, the spacious 2 bed open plan cottage was plenty big enough for us and only came in at £55 each per night, which was a pretty damn good deal considering the location and size of the property. Located just a 10 minute drive from the town of Cirencester and a 20 minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water, I highly recommend Mole End Cottage as a convenient base for exploring The Cotswolds. Check out the property on Airbnb right here...

Although the relaxing fire and luxurious interiors made it incredibly difficult to want to step outside into the cold, we were adamant we wanted to make the most of the fresh, countryside air and get those steps in by going on long country walks in the evenings. Luckily Mole End cottage provided the perfect base to do so, as it's located in a tiny village with hills and hills surrounding the property, which made a well-appreciated change of scenery from a crowded, polluted London I'm used to seeing. 


Despite a long ol' drive from London, we still had a few hours to kill until we could check into our Airbnb, so decided to head straight into the town of Cirencester for some much needed lunch. After some browsing and a frantic TripAdvisor search stood in the middle of the street while our stomachs growled at us for neglecting them for so long, we decided to go to The Fleece, which was a pretty wise decision if I may say so myself. Proper British grub with dreamy interiors made for the perfect first pit-stop on our Cotswolds trip. In true British fashion, I opted for a childhood classic - a fish finger sandwich and it certainly did not disappoint. I strongly recommend paying The Fleece a visit if you're spending the day in Cirencester.  

After stuffing our faces, it was time to walk some of the grub off and finish exploring Cirencester. With cobbled street after cobbled street full of independent shops and cafes on offer, Cirencester made for the perfect starting point of our Cotswolds tour, while we waited for our Airbnb check-in. If individual prints and sassy slogans are your thing, then definitely pay m.a.d.e. gallery a visit...

After exploring Cirencester, we had a pit-stop at Aldi en route back to the cottage to stuck up on dinner ingredients (and of course marshmallows), all set for a cosy night in at our cottage. Once dinner was prepped, we made the most of the sun and went for a quick walk in North Cerney, where we stumbled upon this adorable Shetland Pony, which as you can tell by my excitable face, I was dead chuffed about. (And yes, I do go on walks in a mac & shades - you'll never catch this girl wearing a Karrimor mac...sorry not sorry)


After one too many glasses of wine sat by the fire the night before, it was time to refuel ourselves with freshly baked croissants and copious amounts of coffee, ready for our first big day of exploring The Cotswolds. On the agenda today was the infamous Bourton-on-the-Water (which I was most excited about visiting) and the equally famous Stow-on-the-Wold, both of which I had been told were must-visits.


First stop was Bourton-on-the-Water, which certainly did not disappoint. With the sun shining and not a cloud in sight, the weather made it the perfect setting for wandering around this beautiful village. 

Be warned: what you can't see in this photo is the thousands of tourists swarming behind me, eagerly waiting for a photo. Bourton-on-the-Water is tourist central, with tourists arriving by the coachload all day long, so if quiet and tranquil is your vibe, then it's probably best to avoid visiting Bourton-on-the-Water in the middle of the day, as it gets pretty damn busy. 

Like Cirencester, Bourton-on-the-Water is full of individual shops and cafes to discover. From perfumeries to gift shops to antique stores galore and certainly not a chain in sight, Bourton-on-the-Water is the perfect place to shop for individual pieces.

With the wine from the night before kicking in, it was time to recharge with a coffee at Smiths of Bourton coffee shop. We were tempted by the highly recommended Afternoon Tea, but with lunch at Stow-on-the-Wold on the agenda, we resisted temptation and opted for a coffee instead. 
If Afternoon Tea is your thing, then definitely do sample what Smiths of Bourton tea rooms has to offer, as it comes highly recommended by both TripAdvisor and locals. 


After spending a couple of hours in Bourton-on-the-Water, it was time to hop back in the car and drive over to our next stop of the trip...Stow-on-the-Wold.

It's never too cold for an ice cream, right? We found there wasn't as much to do Stow-in-the-Wold as there was in Bourton-on-the-Water, so we had a quick wander around the cobbled streets, followed by a pit-stop for lunch in one of the cafes, polished off by a toffee ice cream from one of the sweet shops before heading back to the cottage in time for another sunset walk to complete a dreamy second day in The Cotswolds.

With only a 10 minute drive between the two, it's easy to do Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold in the same day, so I strongly recommend doing so, as there's not really enough to do in either villages to warrant spending the whole day there.


- DAY 3 - BIBURY -

Introducing my favourite place in The Cotswolds...Bibury. The ironic thing is we hadn't actually planned to visit Bibury. We were packing up the Airbnb on Sunday morning with the intention of getting on the road early and heading back to London before the Sunday traffic hit, but the reality is none of us were quite ready to leave The Cotswolds yet. We decided to do a bit of last minute research over a coffee of what to do in The Cotswolds, when Bibury popped up. Located just a 20 minute drive away from North Cerney where out Airbnb was, it made sense to head there en route back to London and boy am I glad we did...

With not a cloud in the sky, the weather was on top form for our arrival in Bibury, making the calming streams and adorable cottages that little bit more idyllic to admire. 

Bibury was so beautiful and quaint, it reminded me of a model village. With bright blue skies, perfectly trimmed greenery and adorable cobbled bridges, Bibury is one of those unspoilt treasures England always speaks of, which I was yet to experience. 

Discovering Bibury felt like we'd discovered a hidden gem. Unlike Bourton-on-the-Water where it was swarming with thousands of tourists, Bibury was the complete opposite. It was peacefully quiet, which was great for us, as it made for the perfect setting to photograph without unwanted heads and figures spoiling our every photo. We sat by the stream for a good hour watching the world go by, trying to ignore the fact that reality and work was calling us back to London. 

What better way to finish off a weekend in The Cotswolds than with a Sunday roast and a glass of wine? After a quick TripAdvisor search, we decided to head down the hill to The Catherine Wheel, where TripAdvisor had assured us we could get ourselves a much-need Sunday roast, which we certainly did. After stuffing our faces it was time to head back to the car and start the dreaded drive back to London...


After spending 3 days in The Cotswolds, it's not difficult to see why it was declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). From its rolling hills to its infamous architecture to its unspoilt villages and beautiful aesthetics, The Cotswolds truly is one of the most beautiful, unspoilt places I've ever had the privilege of visiting. Covering nearly 800 square miles and 5 counties, it's fair to say The Cotswolds is not a place to tire of. Although I'm not usually a fan of re-visiting places I've already visited, preferring to visit somewhere new, The Cotswolds is a place I'm willing to make an exception for...


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