Chocolate-box cottages adorned in rose climbers and wisteria, nestled amidst rolling green countryside, flower meadows and farmland; a visit to the Cotswolds feels like travelling back in time: an English rural idyll. Around two hours by car from London, the peaceful and picturesque towns and villages of the Cotswolds are a perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life.
This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty encompasses six counties – Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, some of the prettiest land tracts in the country. It’s the kind of place where you can wander from one honey-hued village to the next, perusing antique emporiums, old-fashioned book shops and independent boutiques before tucking yourself away in a quaint tearoom or a country pub with a glowing fire for the afternoon.
If you fancy swapping the capital for the English countryside and indulging in a quintessential UK retreat, Holidays in the Cotswolds offer a beautiful selection of Cotswolds cottages. To help you decide where to stay, they have chosen some of the prettiest Cotswold towns and villages that are sure to capture your heart and inspire your next getaway.
Straight out of the pages of a storybook with its higgledy-piggledy cottages, Bibury in Gloucestershire was once described by the celebrated artist William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England”. Set along the tranquil bank of the River Coln, it is home to one of the most photographed streets in the Cotswolds, Arlington Row. This iconic line of 17th-century weavers’ cottages fronted by colourful gardens makes you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. The village is also home to the Bibury Trout Farm, one of Britain’s oldest and most well-preserved trout farms where you can fish for your supper in the ‘catch your own’ fishery.
If there was ever an idyllic village in the English countryside, this is it. Nestled in Wiltshire, Castle Combe should be a quintessential stop on any Cotswolds holiday, dotted with treacle-toned cottages with floral hanging baskets and stone-tiled roofs. You may recognise this fairy-tale village from the silver screen as it has starred in several notable films including ‘Stardust’ and Steven Spielberg’s ‘War Horse’. Having won the coveted “Prettiest Village in England” award several times, it is easy to see why this is one of our favourite Cotswolds villages.
The neighbouring villages of Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter in Gloucestershire are the epitome of Cotswolds charm. Built on the banks of the River Eye, you can enjoy a relaxed wander past rose-clad cottages, stopping for afternoon tea in The Old Mill. On a sunny day, you can sit on the bank and dip your toes in the shallow river and watch the historic mill turning in the water. The two villages have been widely used for filming and productions, and Copse Hill Road has even been named as the most romantic street in Britain. A scenic walking path links the two villages together.
With its attractive little bridges that criss-cross the glittering River Windrush, Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire is fondly known as England’s answer to ‘Little Venice’. This captivating riverside village boasts charming Cotswold cottages with steeply pitched roofs and a variety of tearooms, bakeries and independent boutiques including a wonderful perfumery. When the sun is shining, lay out a picnic blanket on the shaded greens and watch the ducks bobbing about on the water or delight in a wander around The Model Village, a one-ninth scale replica of the village in which it sits.
Standing at the top of the High Street in Burford will give you the perfect view of its sweeping ensemble of boutiques, galleries, cafes, and ancient pubs as they flow down towards the River Windrush. This medieval village in Oxfordshire is a picture-postcard scene with its striking 17th and 18th-century architecture. The Tolsey building situated halfway down the High Street is Tudor in style, with black and white timber, is one of the most notable buildings – it used to be a meeting point for medieval wool merchants. Also, look out for the Chemist, said to be England’s oldest pharmacy having existed here since 1734.
Offering some of the finest architectural heritage in the area, Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire is often referred to as one of the masterpieces of Cotswolds towns. From beautiful thatched-roof cottages on its periphery to its preserved 17th-century market hall, historic wool church and ancient almshouses with open fires, this is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Cotswolds. Its curved high street reveals ostentatiously-embellished houses at each turn, a testament to the town’s prosperous former wool trade.
The absolute definition of a Cotswolds scene, Broadway in Worcestershire is another of the prettiest Cotswolds villages. With its period honey-coloured houses and beautiful village green, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped onto a film set. The village may be small, but there is an abundance of fine restaurants and cafes, as well as unique independent shops, antique emporiums and art galleries. The nearby folly, Broadway Tower, is an unmissable highlight of any visit, a scenic 1.5-mile walk away from the village via the Cotswold Way National Trail. From the top of the tower, breathtaking views over 12 counties can be admired.
This is just a small selection of some of the best villages and towns to visit on your Cotswold holiday. If you’re looking to explore these pretty destinations and everything the area has to offer, why not make a vacation out of it? With Holidays in the Cotswolds, you can find the perfect Cotswolds cottages to stay in during your visit, so you can enjoy the complete experience.