If you haven’t yet been to the Cotswolds, you’ve missed out on a treat. Snuggled into the rolling hills of England, it’s the country at its romantic, postcard-pretty best. Honeyed stone and thatched cottages, winding lanes, rickety fences, teetering red post boxes and police stations smaller than churches – but just as ornate.
It’s also, as people will be quick to tell you, only a short hour or two’s drive from London, allowing city slickers to soak up some of its countryside charm without truly having to swap polished heels and brogues for sturdy coats and mud-cloaked wellies. Or at least, not for all that long.
The place names combine images of childhood cartoons with disjointed bloody mayhem, including such lip-smacking workouts as Chipping Camden, Bourton on the Water, Moreton in Marsh and the Upper and Lower Slaughters. But for all the rustic charm of the Cotswolds, it is refreshing when a new take on the old favourites swishes into town.
And that is exactly what happened with The Old Stocks Inn in Stow on the Wold.
Bathed in hipster cool and awash with cheeky charm, The Old Stocks keeps the rustic nostalgia from this 17th century coaching inn and merges it with the minty-fresh zest of contemporary design.
Whitewashed walls with inky-black hand drawn maps live alongside squat-lettered-and-lit signs proclaiming Mind The Gap, and Yesterday Is History. Low slung beams and rickety staircases lead the way to blasting power showers, zippy wifi and faded copies of Little Dorritt and The Swallows of Kabul. It’s a marriage of chic Scandi blue cool with buttery English tradition.
It’s a marriage of chic Scandi blue cool with buttery English tradition.
Our room had that luxurious touch I love: a free-standing bath beneath bright white tiles and rough beamed wood.
And the teal, dear readers. The lashings and lashings of beautiful blue-green teal,. As you can probably gather from this blog, my profile pic and near everything I own and wear…this is a colour with which I am in love. That, with a few splashes of jade, apricot and yellow.
I was in heaven.
Friday night ushered in cool cocktails and wine-tasting in the decidedly unstuffy library-slash bar. A frisky bison hoved into view (that’s zubrowka, peach liqueur, apple and mint before we go any further) and the night-weariness of the drive eased off.
Saturday morning treated us to one of Britain’s famed “end of the world is nigh” torrents of rain: the kaleidoscopic droplets on the window looking all the more romantic as they blurred pillar box red with golden, buttered stone.
But England is built for rain, and the Cotswolds are no exception.
Breakfast banished the blues with a Cotswolds Full English Breakfast: tomato, mushroom, beans and Billy’s free-range egg chattering nicely with the Benetton black and white pudding. The Todenham Manor Farm sausages and bacon were good enough to turn a good vegan bad.
Boots and brollies fully stocked, we strode out into the Wolds, focusing in on Stowe on the Saturday and the Slaughters on Sunday, when the thundering skies showed a brief glimmer of mercy.
Back the Old Stocks, nourishment came thick and fast from the cosy coffee shop, complimentary tea and gin mini bar and then dinner in the low-ceilinged and well attended restaurant. Hearty red meats like pigeon and wild boar grace the plates but there’s still the quirky touch here and wasabi touch there to bring character to the local produce.
And then, of course, it was time to get Seriously Laid Back: Chase sloe gin, strawberries and lime juice in the teal-tinged bar.Seriously Laid Back
The morning after offered smoked-salmon blinis from the east and pancakes with maple syrup from the west.
But being right in the heart of England, and the Cotswolds, no less, overlooked by bowler hats and literal branches of history, I decided to stick with tradition.
I loved the innovation here. But for some things, the answer remains a Full English B.
Find the full specs for the Old Stocks Inn over here: definitely a great place to stay if you’re going to visit the Cotswolds (which, quite frankly, you should.)
Disclosure – I received a complimentary stay at the Old Stocks Inn for review purposes – on the understanding that as ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. The good, the bad, and the part about the British weather. Otherwise, what’s the point?