Visit Cotswolds: Raymond Blanc and more…


Visit The Cotswolds! 

Whether you are looking for stylish family camping, travelling with pets or having a romantic special occasion, the Cotswolds has everything you need.

Camping for all the family: Cotswold Farm Park

If you’re a fan of BBC’s Countryfile, then you might have heard the backstory of presenter Adam Henson’s working farm transformation. He completely altered his fathers farm, situated just outside Cheltenham, by created a family friendly farm zoo, with collections of rare and native farm animals, a well stocked farm shop and restaurant, and an extensive campsite with sturdy safari tents and luxury log cabins all decked out with BBQ, cooker, hob, fridge and plug sockets. It’s camping without any of the hardship! You can park up with your own caravan or camper too, and there are all the amenities you might need to have a comfortable few days on the site. Theres a good chance you will bump into Adam himself, as he is very hands on managing the farm. The location is a good base to go explore the surrounding areas. Consider a trip to Broadway which is a wonderfully preserved picturesque Cotswolds village, or find a stately home to visit like just twenty minutes drive west, 15th-century Sudeley Castle  with formal gardens, flamboyant peacocks and art by Turner and Rubens. The remarkable Sezincote House & Garden is just twenty minutes drive north of the farm. It’s a family-run estate covering 3,500 acres of rolling Cotswold countryside with a 200-year-old Mogul Indian palace, set in a romantic landscape of temples, grottoes, waterfalls and canals reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. There are daily tours of the house from April to October. Of course there are marked wildlife walks around Cotswold Farm itself for you to enjoy. Pets are welcome in the restaurant, caravan park and the spacious cabins and safari tents but understandably, they are not allowed into the zoo area. They can join on the wildlife walks as long as they are on a lead. 
Prices for a 2 bed (sleeps 4) safari tent start at £175

Adults only, Dog-Friendly : Fish Hotel, Cotswolds
My two senior rescue dogs, Babe and Gizmo, are excellent company on road trips, so I love finding new dog-friendly places to take them. The dog-travel industry is booming (globally, it stands at around 1.5 billion and is rising), and as a result, the hospitality industry is opening its doors to pets. My two enjoy comfy sofas, naps by open fires, lots of human attention, and a few tasty treats now and then and the Fish Hotel provided all that and more. Nestled within the 500-acre Farncombe estate, high above the stunning Cotswolds village of Broadway, the Fish staff are pooch-trained to a high standard! There are plenty of water stations dotted around, and an authentic, relaxed atmosphere in the luxe-Scandi-style lounge areas. Guests sip cocktails, snack, and unwind from life outside this remote compound, and the waft of smoke from the wood burners is extra comforting. The stylish bar area offers special dog mats to cover the lush velvet sofas, which helped get my two off to sleep in minutes.
The food menus work well, offering a wide range of well-crafted cocktails, bar food, and an à la carte menu from The Fish’s in-house restaurant, Hook. At breakfast, my dogs were treated to bowls of sliced sausages—compliments of the chef! Even with the wide choice of food available in the nearby village of Broadway, it would be hard to match Hook. Its seafood-inspired menu blends interesting flavours and offers a twist on classics.
The hotel centers around The Lodge, which houses Hook restaurant. (Dogs are not allowed in the restaurant, but the full Hook menu is served in the lounge areas, where dogs are more than welcome.) There's also plenty of cosy indoor and outdoor seating areas. To one side, there’s the converted stable building, with 28 private, ground-floor rooms featuring wood burners, tea stations, a complimentary mini bar, and plenty of open space for hounds to run around and explore. Follow the pathway around The Lodge, and you will discover the deluxe shepherd hut area, and several luxury, private treehouses surrounding the lake.
While staying on this lavish country estate, it felt fitting to try clay shooting which was great fun (£75 per hour). There’s an extensive timetable of different activities, including falconry, axe throwing, archery, and you can even learn how to pilot one of the four Farncombe Adventure Hovercrafts. The Fish feels more than a hotel. It’s a stylish Cotswolds hideaway that’s a bit like a luxury commune, offering multiple ways to experience your stay, balancing pooch pampering with privacy perfectly.
The Fish Hotel: Rates start at £220 (for a medium room, on a B&B basis).

For the food connoisseur, or any special occasion: Cotswolds Le Manoir, Belmond 

Raymond Blanc OBE is the dashing French chef with multiple Michelin stars who presides over Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons in the Oxfordshire countryside on the edge of the Cotswolds. When you visit the 18th-century manor and its surrounding buildings, it feels otherworldly, making it easy to forget you are just a fifty-minute drive from London. Le Manoir is a stylish experience from start to finish with lots of friendly staff bustling around. You may even see Raymond himself, busily overseeing the hive of industry. While Belmond Hotel group has taken over Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, Blanc is very much at the helm, managing his cookery and gardening schools on the grounds. When you visit, you are free to walk through the apple orchards, lavender paths and vegetable gardens. Of course most guests come to visit the awarding-winning restaurant serving lavish lunch and dinner menus, with the dinner tasting menu set out over eight to ten seasonal courses. This is old-world luxury, with impeccable service, plenty of glamour and all the five star trimmings you would expect at this level of dining.  
Due to Le Manoir’s proximity to London, a wide variety of very stylish guests drive here to dine, returning back to london. If you can, consider staying over in a room in the luxury Manoir or one of the signature suits on the grounds. Some are even children and pet friendly, though I’m not sure what child would manage to sit quietly for dinner at Le Manoir! Adults need to be prepared to set aside time for the tasting menu that can last well over three hours!. The night I visited the courses kept coming with each plate looking as beautiful as it was delicious. Even the most instagram-adverse person will be tempted to photograph their plates. 
Accommodation at Le Manoir is a lavish affair with freshly baked treats and chocolates awaiting you on arrival, and nice touches like wellies and yoga mats are stored in your room. Breakfast keeps in theme with a lavish buffet and near endless hot breakfast options. There’s no spa or pool at Le Manoir but maybe after a nine course dinner, a lie in is all you’ll need!

Dinner: £230 per person accommodation from £700
For more information on the region

Sara Colohan
Writer & Researcher