About two years ago now, something happened to the manner in how my husband and I booked holidays. We bought a dog. Any dog owner knows that a dog is not just a dog. He or she is a member of your family and leaving them for extended periods of time beyond four hours can actually be fairly upsetting and stressful. Ideally you would take them with you wherever you go. Whilst my mongrel hasn't, in the main, always stopped me from going further afield (please see my previous two blog posts at least!), if I can come up with a feasible holiday destination that can include the mutt, I will.
As such, for my third wedding anniversary this year, as opposed to booking a long weekend away to a European city, my husband and I travelled to the Cotswolds to the aptly named Hare and Hounds hotel near Tetbury. The drive from our home was delightful and, with every new village with drove through, I became more and more embarrassed that this was my first time to this part of the country. It is simply stunning and at every turn there is another snapshot of a picture perfect English scene. Be that a pub that looks incredibly inviting, a red telephone box outside a sweet shop or huge manor houses up at the top of a hill. I couldn't believe that I had spurned this countryside to catch flights away from Heathrow or Gatwick when I lived in London. The Cotswolds are only a two to two and a half hour drive away and instead, I would pick a two hour Easyjet flight to Malaga at an unpleasant time in the morning or evening.
We arrived at the hotel, in Westonbirt to be exact, about two miles away from Highgrove, Prince Charles's home, at around 3pm. We were shown to our room which was comfortable and well kitted out with doggy wall paper and a huge bathroom. If I'm being pedantic, I would say I expected the room itself to be slightly larger as we had chosen not to go for the cheapest option for once! As such, whilst I would recommend this hotel, I would be hesitant to book their smallest room as I would fear just how small it was. Mr L told me I was being picky however, which is perhaps not unfair. Having settled in, we took the pooch for an ill fated walk through a field of cows that scared both Harry The Dog and my little urban dwelling self. The husband was unperturbed by the cattle, despite their moving towards us en mass, up until the point that the sky started spitting and we promptly marched back to the hotel for a brief walk around its pretty grounds and chill out in our room.
Perhaps it was the unseasonably grey day (it was mid august), but the grounds didn't look at their best. However, this was no fault of the landscaping. Instead, the rustic picnic tables and retro deck chairs often had the remnants of a resident's afternoon tea that had been failed to be cleared by hotel staff. This was a shame as I could see that the hotel, when shown at its best, would be nothing short of idyllic. Again, I may be splitting hairs, but to me the overarching feeling I gained was that there either weren't enough staff at the hotel, or the standards at this four star residence has slipped to below par.
Our supper that evening however was excellent. There is a fine dining restaurant at the Hare and Hounds that is not too badly priced, but my husband and I chose the bar as we have never been a couple that loves small but beautiful portions. Hence, we ordered from the pub type food menu and ate far too well, alongside some delicious and well priced wine. Our three course meal and booze on top came to just under £80 for the two of us, which I don't think was too bad. Especially for two people celebrating an incredibly rainy day three years prior. Our breakfast the next day was also delicious and held in the library, a fabulous room away from the main restaurant, where dogs are welcome. The only negative to this meal was very much a first world problem in that my husband found a couple of shards of foil in his eggs benedict. That being said, as soon as this was mentioned when we came to check out and pay, the concierge receptionist immediately took the price of breakfast off our bill, and even let Harry stay for free.
To walk off a ludicrously indulgent twelve hours, the husband and I then embarked on a five mile walk that took us up to Tetbury passed Highgrove house. It was such a beautiful walk and showed England off to its best. The public footpaths were peppered with dry stone walls, aging estate houses and thatched cottages. It was one of those walks where you forget about the practicalities and realities of your life and want to move to the area immediately. It was the perfect end to a wonderfully relaxing and restful night away and I was glad to get to know my home country a little better.
It is an area I plan to return to again very soon. I'd love to know about any of your Cotswolds recommendations, so please do get in touch via the form below!