Located in south central and south West England, The Cotswolds is renowned for its quintessential English elegance, abundance of market towns and villages. With gently rolling hills and picturesque views, it makes for a stunning escape. It was declared as An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty over half a century ago, and still remains one of the most beautiful places to visit in England today. So where should one stay? And what’s the best way to get there?
THYME – Unique Country Destination
Nestled in the heart of the Cotswold village of Southrop sits the unique Thyme hotel. An enclosed collection of restored historic buildings form a peaceful hamlet environment, a ‘village within a village,’ that epitomises the understated and natural beauty of the surrounding area.
Over the past 15 years, founder and creative director Caryn Hibbert has ensured that Thyme has evolved organically with an understanding that conservation is about sustainability – not only preserving the past but more importantly, securing the future.
Thyme has 31 bedrooms situated in a Georgian rectory known as the Lodge and a 17th century Farmhouse; and Courtyard & Village cottages. In addition, there are five Garden Rooms each with its own private garden.
All rooms are uniquely decorated, with botanical themes such as Lemonbalm, Mallow and English Rose.
Complete with a rose pink free-standing bath and glamorous hanging chandelier, the English Rose room is the epitome of luxury.
The open plan design allows for guests to navigate from the bedroom area to the gorgeous bathroom with ease, and there is also an elegant marble tiled shower for those in a rush.
Large bay windows look out onto the beautifully lawned garden area, providing a fresh country air.
Upon arrival, guests can expect to find a little tipple and a greeting card, along with fresh cotton robes, and a selection of natural bath products to use.
Prices start from £325 and vary depending on the category of the room.
FOOD & DRINK
Guests can enjoy deliciously home cooked meals under the direction of Head Chef, Charlie Hibbert, at the hotel’s Ox Barn.
Rooted in a passion for the local land, food and entertaining, the carefully curated menus are farm-based and plant inspired.
What used to be a nineteenth century former oxen house with soaring archways, now boasts a stunning open plan kitchen and dining area, which gives a homely feel.
Why not try the delicious lamb for main and apple tart for dessert!
After dinner, guests can explore Thyme’s onsite bar, coincidentally named ‘The Baa’ due to its bespoke ‘sheep seats’ and original design.
Here, bartenders create the most exquisite homemade cordials, shrubs and infusions, which together with fresh flowers and herbs from the garden, create a cocktail menu that tells a story of the land.
For those looking to branch further out, why not take a trip to the award-winning village pub, The Swan, which sits at the heart of the village.
Others may fancy the idea of cooking their own meal, which the hotel invites, offering such services at Thyme’s cookery school, which makes use of local and natural ingredients.
Unwind at the peaceful Meadow Spa. With its stillness, peacefulness and natural beauty, the botanical spa is an idyllic heaven of tranquillity.
Guests are welcomed into the Greenhouse reception where they’re greeted with a herb infused water.
They’re then shown through to the Meadow Cottage, where they can choose from a selection of bespoke treatments, which are tailored to the individual.
The amazing staff work with guests to ensure the treatment caters directly to them, using natural oils from British brand, Aurelia Probiotic skincare, to target certain areas, or provide different sensations.
Following treatments, guests can enjoy a cup of fresh herbal tea, while relaxing with some light entertainment.
Others may prefer to take a dip in the pure water swimming pool or hot spring water tub.
A yoga and pilates studio, tennis court and a range of country pursuits including local walking and cycling routes are also available to guests.
HOW TO GET THERE
Less than two hours from central London, one hour from Heathrow, and 35 minutes from Oxford, it won’t take very long to get to Thyme.
Express.co.uk had the luxury of driving some of Volvo’s latest models, including their refreshed XC90, with its new mild-hybrid B5 engine, and smaller styles XC60 and XC40.
Complete with Smartphone integration, state-of-the-art leather interior, heated front windscreen, steering wheel and washer nozzles, the XC90 is the perfect getaway vehicle for a staycation.
With a top speed of 134 mph, the car ensures utmost safety, which is essential on small country roads, but also allows for a gentle cruise in quiet areas.
Well-being is at the top of Volvo’s list with all XC90 vehicles fitted as a standard with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, and front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, including at junctions – a world first!
Pilot Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control allows for semi-autonomous drive technology to assist with the steering (up to 80 mph) and takes care of the accelerator and brake inputs required to keep the car within lane markings and at the desired cruising speed.
With seven seats, the XC90 is great for a bigger group, but for those preferring smaller, compact models, why not try the XC60, which is a size down or the XC40.
Visit www.volvocars.com for more information on their brand new range.
THE FINAL WORD
Naturally beautiful, tranquil and comforting – The Cotswolds should be on your list whether you live in England or not.
A special shout out must be given to the staff at Thyme, particularly the restaurant and spa team who really catered to my every need to make the experience personal.
With its warm, country design, Thyme literally feels like a home (although much more luxurious than a London flat) away from home.
For more information, and to book a stay visit: www.thyme.co.uk
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