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Destination Spotlight: The Cotswolds

By Alex Boag-Wyllie
More by Alex

Discover England in Miniature

The Cotswolds are nestled in the southwest of England, between bustling Birmingham and the Georgian charm of Bath. Renowned for offering a glimpse into quintessential England, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty beckons with timeless beauty and picturesque landscapes. Spanning five counties, the Cotswolds has captivated travellers for centuries. Discover this region’s history and some of our favourite accommodations, culinary delights, and beauty spots.


A Brief History of the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds boast a diverse history dating back to prehistoric times, with evidence of early human habitation in the form of Neolithic burial chambers, standing stones, and Bronze Age hill forts. During the Roman era, the region flourished as a centre of industry and commerce, with Roman settlements and villas dotting the landscape. The legacy of Roman influence can still be seen today in archaeological remains such as amphitheatres, villas, and bathhouses.

By the medieval period, the Cotswolds had become a hub of the wool trade, leading to the construction of grand manor houses and churches. The distinctive honey-coloured limestone, quarried locally, has become synonymous with Cotswold architecture. Despite economic challenges in later centuries, including the decline of the wool trade, the Cotswolds continued to evolve, with the arrival of the railway in the 19th century bringing new opportunities for trade and tourism.

Today, the Cotswolds remain a timeless destination. The golden region attracts visitors with its picturesque villages, historic landmarks, and stunning scenery.

Find out more about the history of the Cotswolds in our guide below.

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Prettiest Villages in the Cotswolds

Exploring the Cotswolds is like stepping into a storybook – each village boasts a unique character and charm. Cobblestone streets lined with thatched cottages and quaint shops balance with the tranquil atmosphere of timeless settlements.

Image of Arlington Row in Bibury


Nestled along the banks of the River Coln sits Bibury. This pretty village enchants visitors with its row of 14th-century weavers’ cottages known as Arlington Row. Your clients will delight in a stroll along the riverbank, admiring the charming architecture of Bibury, once described by designer William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England”.

Two women walk across the bridge in Castle Combe

Castle Combe

Tucked into the southeast corner of the Cotswolds is the Wiltshire village of Castle Combe. A village of two halves, the houses in the valley are a time capsule, reminiscent of stepping back to medieval England. Sure to delight your clients, this pretty village is the perfect stop for a stroll through quintessentially golden Cotswolds beauty.

Where to Eat

Treat your clients to the culinary delights of the Cotswolds. Here, traditional British fare meets modern gastronomy. Whether they’re craving hearty pub classics or gourmet cuisine, the region offers a plethora of dining options to suit every palate.

The Pudding Club

Satisfy a sweet tooth at this iconic institution dedicated to all things British pudding at the Three Ways House Hotel on the northern edge of the Cotswolds. Here, your clients will indulge in a decadent dessert experience like no other.

Double Red Duke

This charming gastropub combines rustic charm with contemporary flair. The finest local ingredients combine to create mouthwatering seasonal dishes. Locally brewed ale pairs perfectly with each meal for a cosy dining experience just to the east of the Cotswolds.

Restaurant Journey

Embark on a culinary journey at this Michelin-starred restaurant. In the heart of Cheltenham, innovative dishes and exquisite flavours take centre stage. With a focus on sustainability and seasonality, each plate tells a story of the region’s culinary heritage.

Olive Tree

Tastebuds are transported to the Mediterranean at this award-winning restaurant. The Olive Tree is known for its creative take on Italian and Spanish cuisine. From handcrafted pasta to wood-fired pizza, savour the flavours at the only Michelin-star restaurant in Bath.

Pair the Cotswolds With...


Two and a half hours by road or rail will take your clients from central London to the edge of the charming Cotswolds. Start their adventure in the heart of the vibrant capital before enjoying the pastoral beauty of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Discover London


Hop west across the border into ancient Wales – the western edge of the Cotswolds is less than 20 km /13 miles from Wales. A magical land of breathtaking vistas, rugged mountains, and a rich history, Wales is a country not to be overlooked.

Discover Wales

Where to Stay

Experience genuine Cotswolds hospitality at some of the region’s charming accommodations. Ranging from historic coaching inns to luxurious country estates, read on for a glimpse at our black book.

Room at Lords of the Manor

Credit: Carlé & Moss, 2022

Lords of the Manor

Enjoy luxury at this elegant manor house hotel with acres of manicured gardens amid rolling countryside. The hotel is ideally placed in Upper Slaughter – nearby Lower Slaughter is often hailed as the prettiest village in the Cotswolds.

Bar area at the Wild Rabbit, Kingham on a sunny day

Credit: Martin Morrell

The Wild Rabbit

Embrace the rustic charm of the Cotswolds at this quintessential English inn in peaceful Kingham. The Wild Rabbit is known for its cosy rooms, hearty fare, and warm hospitality.

Superior Double bedroom at The Swan, Bibury

Credit: Thomas Skovsende

The Swan Hotel

Enjoy riverside views and traditional Cotswolds hospitality at this charming hotel. The Swan is nestled in the heart of Bibury’s picturesque village, a stone’s throw from the iconic Arlington Row.

Aerial photo of Calcot & Spa

Calcot & Spa

Escape to the countryside at this elegant country house hotel, set amidst acres of rolling parkland less than 8 km/5 miles west of Tetbury. Indulge in pampering spa treatments, savour gourmet cuisine, and unwind in luxurious surroundings.

The front signage of The Bird, Bath

The Bird

This boutique hotel offers comfortable accommodation and modern amenities set amidst quirky decorations. Situated in the heart of Bath, The Bird is the perfect base for exploring the city’s historic attractions.

Interior of The Lygon Arms, Broadway

The Lygon Arms

Step back in time at this historic coaching inn, dating back to the 17th century. In the heart of Broadway, this historic hotel is perfectly placed to explore the north Cotswolds, including the iconic Broadway Tower.

What to Do

From historic landmarks to scenic gardens, the Cotswolds offer a wealth of attractions to explore. Guide your clients as they step off the beaten path to discover the gems of the Cotswolds.

Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Marvel at the stunning architecture of this Norman and medieval masterpiece. For film buffs, the cathedral was a filming location for the Harry Potter films, Mary Queen of Scots (2018), and more.

A trio explore the Cotswolds Distillery

Cotswolds Distillery

Discover the art of gin and whisky making at this award-winning distillery. Nestled in the heart of the AONB, guided tours offer insight into the distillation process. Tastings allow clients to sample these unique spirits.

Interior display at the Cotswold Motoring Museum

Cotswold Motoring Museum

Step back in time at the fascinating Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum. The museum is home to a collection of vintage cars, motorcycles, toys, and memorabilia showcasing 20th century motoring in the Cotswolds

Sudeley Castle through the blooming heather

Manor Houses

Explore the region’s rich heritage with visits to a historic house, each offering a glimpse into the Cotswolds’ storied past. For royal connections, don’t miss Highgrove, the private residence of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla, or Sudeley Castle (pictured), the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds. Just north of Sudeley, Snowshill Manor is best known for its eccentric 20th century owner and the fascinating collection he left behind.

Two women explore Westonbirt Arboretum

Arboretums and Gardens

Lose yourself in the natural beauty of stunning gardens such as Painswick Rococo Gardens and the Arts and Crafts-inspired garden at Hidcote. Add in Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, (pictured) for a foliage feast for the senses. Each garden is home to various plant species and tranquil walking trails.

Ready to Shine a Spotlight on The Cotswolds?

The Cotswolds epitomise the quintessential English countryside experience, with its charming villages, historic landmarks, and scenic beauty. Whether your clients seek relaxation, adventure, or simply a taste of traditional British hospitality, this enchanting region offers something for everyone.

Let’s work together to plan their dream Cotswolds adventure and discover the magic of this timeless destination.

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Meet the Author: Alex Boag-Wyllie

Born in the Scottish Highlands, I was lucky enough to spend my childhood playing on beautiful beaches and learning to ski (or, more often, fall over). My father’s job kept us on the move, and I was soon just as at home across the rest of the UK. I’m your gal if you need a good cafe recommendation (almost) anywhere in the country; if I haven’t been there yet, you can be sure it’s on my trip list…

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