10 best places to stay in the Cotswolds

Days out, Rural, Activity

Posted by Kate A on 10th August 2020

Broadway in the Cotswolds

Sleepy villages of golden stone, nestled amidst rolling green hills grazed by sheep; a holiday in the Cotswolds is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of daily life. If you fancy escaping to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, home to some of the prettiest land tracts in the country, then we have chosen some of the best places to stay in the Cotswolds that are sure to capture your heart and inspire your next getaway.

Read on to discover traditional villages bisected by winding streams, where cosy chocolate-box cottages are adorned in trailing roses, and bustling market towns bursting with a treasure trove of boutiques, museums, art galleries and ancient pubs with glowing open fires.

Or, if you would rather jump right into browsing exciting staycations, take a look through our beautiful holiday cottages in the Cotswolds by clicking the button below. 


Burford: best for afternoon tea

Burford

Sweeping downhill towards the gently flowing River Windrush, Burford’s High Street is a picture-postcard Cotswolds scene. Lined by a continuous ensemble of cafes, tearooms, delis and historic pubs, all encased within striking 17th and 18th-century architecture, there are endless opportunities to indulge in an afternoon tea, something that is somewhat of a tradition in these parts.

When you’ve had your fill of tea and cake, there’s lots more to see in this quaint medieval town. Admire the black and white timbered Tolsey building which used to be a meeting point for medieval wool merchants, look out for Reavley Chemist - said to be England’s oldest pharmacy, and discover a bounty of fascinating artefacts at St. John the Baptist Church, rated as one of the country’s finest. Throw in an array of antique shops, specialist boutiques, and the nearby Cotswold Wildlife Park, and Burford makes an attractive place to stay on a holiday in the Cotswolds.

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Bibury: best for view seekers

Bibury

Straight out of the pages of a storybook with one of the Cotswolds’ most photographed scenes, Arlington Row, and famously described by the celebrated artist William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England”, Bibury is one of the best places to stay in the Cotswolds for those who appreciate a good view. Bathing in the sunshine along the tranquil banks of the River Colne in Gloucestershire, this dreamy village offers a slice of rural paradise.

After capturing the perfect shot of the iconic higgledy-piggledy Arlington cottages, enjoy a relaxing wander along the adjacent Rack Isle water meadow. Like the cottages, it is owned by the National Trust and provides an important habitat for wildlife and water-loving plants. The village is also home to the charming Saxon Church of St. Mary, and 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.

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Gloucester: best for shopping

Gloucester

One of the biggest draws to the ancient city of Gloucester is its superb selection of shops. For those who enjoy independent boutiques, head to the Westgate Quarter, one of the oldest parts of the city, or if you’re looking for high-street favourites, then there are two shopping centres, Eastgate and King’s Walk. And if you love a good bargain, the Gloucester Quays Outlet is the perfect place to pick up some designer labels at discounted prices.

As well as shopping, Gloucester also offers a rich variety of attractions, eateries and history. When you’ve shopped ‘til you’ve dropped, you can marvel at the magnificent Gloucester Cathedral known as the setting for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, admire the narrowboats and tall ships at Gloucester Docks, or catch a game at the renowned Kingsholme grounds, one of the finest rugby clubs in the country.

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Chipping Norton: best for couples

Chipping Norton

Situated in the heart of Oxfordshire, Chipping Norton is well-placed for couples looking to see some of the best sights and attractions in the Cotswolds. Within this charming market town which is famous for its wool and tweed production, there is a wide selection of tearooms, pubs and restaurants to dine out, as well as a theatre which hosts a variety of touring companies, stand-up comedians and films, perfect for a romantic evening.

Locally, you can discover the birthplace of Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace, wander 2,000 acres of gardens and see the Japanese Flowering Cherries at Batsford Arboretum, or take part in a tour and tasting at the Cotswolds Distillery. For some peace and tranquillity, you can also visit the atmospheric Rollright Stones just down the road and uncover the myths and legends which surround this mysterious collection of standing stones.

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Broadway: best for art lovers

Broadway

The pretty Cotswolds village of Broadway is a golden paradise where leafy horse chestnut trees, period stone buildings and lots of little shops, antique emporiums and tearooms line the main street. Home to a plethora of art galleries and museums, visitors are drawn here from far and wide to explore its artistic and historic roots, particularly in June when the village hosts the Broadway Arts Festival.

With its picture-perfect timeless appearance, Broadway has attracted many influential artists, designers and writers over the years including William Morris, John Singer Sargent and J.M. Barrie. Visit the Gordon Russell Design Museum to learn more about the furniture designer of the same name who grew up and had a workshop here, or discover gorgeous items collected by Charles Wade at the nearby National Trust property of Snowshill Manor. And no trip is complete without a gentle climb to Broadway Tower, an 18th-century Capability Brown Folly Tower perched on a hill above the village which boasts panoramic views of up to 16 counties on a clear day: a photographer’s dream.  

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Tewkesbury: best for history buffs

Tewkesbury

Step back in time when you visit Tewkesbury with over 350 listed buildings of historic interest, from half-timbered Tudor houses to extraordinary medieval architecture. Tewkesbury Abbey rises from the centre of this ancient riverside town, boasting the highest Norman tower in the country, as well as an ornate ceiling and exquisite stained-glass windows.

Take a wander along the town’s winding streets and intriguing narrow alleyways, dipping in and out of shops, tearooms and traditional pubs. Immerse yourself in the town’s fascinating history by exploring its Heritage Centre, Tewkesbury Museum, the John Moore Museum or the recently restored 15th century Merchant’s Shop. On a fine day, a scenic boat trip along the river is a must, then as night falls, you can take in a show at The Roses Theatre.

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Cirencester: best for family fun

Cirencester

When it comes to family holidays in the Cotswolds, Cirencester is a great choice, with its attractions and museums providing entertainment for all ages. The second largest town in Britain during Roman times, there is lots of exciting history for little ones to discover at the Corinium Museum in town or Chedworth Roman Villa nearby.

After a morning of dressing up like a Roman soldier and browsing fascinating local artefacts, the whole tribe can lay out a blanket and enjoy a family picnic in the 3,000-acre Cirencester Park. Once rested and refuelled, more family fun can be found nearby at Cotswold Water Park where 170 interconnecting lakes offer a thrilling variety of water sports, including paddleboarding, canoeing, waterskiing, windsurfing and sailing.

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Stroud: best for foodies

Stroud

Stroud is one of the most vibrant towns in the Cotswolds to visit, boasting a bohemian vibe with an enviable array of independent and fair-trade shops, a lively arts scene, and a strong café culture. This hilly market town values local produce and as you explore its narrow, cobbled streets, you’ll soon discover an enormous choice of places to eat and drink where you can sample delicious local delicacies for yourself.

One of the biggest draws for foodies is the award-winning weekly Stroud Farmers’ Market which features over 50 stalls of the freshest local produce, with everything from locally made honey and preserves to meats, cheeses, baked goods and the ripest fruit and veg. After overindulging in all the tempting treats, you can burn off the calories on a wander along Coaley Peak or Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons which offer far-reaching views across the Cotswolds along with a very popular ice cream parlour known as Winstones.

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Chipping Campden: best for walkers

Chipping Campden

One of the Cotswolds’ most picturesque towns, Chipping Campden offers plenty of opportunities to don your walking boots and enjoy adventures in the countryside. The 100-mile Cotswold Way National Trail begins in the centre of the village which winds its way from here to Bath, encompassing breathtaking views, historical monuments and an abundance of wildlife.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, this small market town is peppered with olde-worlde inns warmed by open fires, cosy tearooms and chic restaurants, many of which have been built from the honey-coloured limestone that the region is famous for. Some of the finest architectural heritage can be found here, including the impressive 17th-century Market Hall, Banqueting House, and the ‘wool’ church of St James. There are also two spectacular gardens to explore nearby too, Kiftsgate Court Gardens and Hidcote Manor.

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Bath: best for group getaways

Bath

If you’re looking for a fun-filled group getaway in the Cotswolds, then Bath is literally jam-packed with things to do. The only city in the UK designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, there is an abundance of beautiful sights to discover, including the landmarks of No.1 Royal Crescent – an elegant Georgian townhouse which has been turned into a fascinating museum - and the well-preserved Roman Baths which are still filled with steaming spring water.

The restorative properties of Bath’s bubbling hot springs can be experienced at the Thermae Bath Spa where a roof-top pool offers panoramic views over the cityscape, perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing break with friends. After a pampering session at the spa, you can delve into the city’s past at one of its excellent museums and art galleries, enjoy some retail therapy, or spend a relaxed afternoon in one of the many trendy cocktail bars before taking in a show at the Theatre Royal Bath.

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Need more inspiration?

We know the Cotswolds inside out and we've got the best advice on where to go and what to do, whether you're a family (with or without a canine companion), group of friends or a couple seeking a romantic escape. Check out these guides for even more Cotswolds holiday ideas:

If you've already decided where you're going to spend your next break in the Cotswolds, find a place to stay from our collection of Cotswolds cottages.

Retreat to the Cotswolds

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.