Few areas of the country have such a concentration of National Trust gems and wide open spaces for visitors to enjoy from their luxury hotels Cotswolds base. There are around twenty historic houses and parks to enjoy – and some of them are free, all adding to the year round appeal of a stay in one of the luxury hotels in the Cotswolds.
The great houses
The biggest attraction is Hidcote Manor, a textbook ‘arts and crafts’ garden near Chipping Campden, created by an American garden lover, Major Lawrence Johnston. Nearby Chastleton House is worth booking ahead for, an unchanged ‘time-capsule’ of a place which dates to the 17th century and also has a charming garden. Another house with a remarkable collection, all the work of one man, is Snowshill Manor. Charles Wade’s motto was ‘let nothing perish’ an idea that he lived up to by filling his manor house with objects from around the world – seemingly the only criterion was that he was intrigued by the artefact in question, from children’s toys to Japanese armour. I can think of one or two luxury hotels in the Cotswolds that build their interiors up in the same way.
Not far away, towards Stratford-Upon-Avon, Charlecote Park is still the home of the Lucy family, a house and deer park where it is said that Shakespeare was once caught poaching. Also close to Stratford, Upton House is a relatively ‘straightforward’ country house, that happens to have an extraordinary art collection.
National Trust Parks
The National Trust has a fine group of parks and lodges to the east of Cheltenham, perfect for visiting from luxury hotels in the Cotswolds. Buscot Park is a lesser known National Trust property with gardens and woodland, the house with a collection of pictures and furniture. Sherbborne Park estate is a working Cotswold estate, popular with locals for wildlife walks – nearby Lodge Park is from another age, a deer coursing grandstand commanding views over surrounding parkland. Also nearby is Badbury Hill, a snowdrop and bluebell covered delight in Spring, marketing the start of the visitor season for many luxury hotels in the Cotswolds.
Chedworth Roman Villa is a settlement set in a wooded valley. It’s owners were high status, evidenced by mosaic floors, heating systems and a shrine – testimony to the saying ‘scratch Gloucestershire and you’ll find Rome’.
In the middle Cotswolds, near Stroud Minchinhampton and Rodborough commons have escaped attention, but are a firm favourite with locals, who look for orchids and ancient burial mounds and then have a locally made ice cream direct from the factory. In the South Cotswolds, Dyrham Park is a 17th century house and deer park, currently the subject of extensive planting. It’s home to a herd of fallow deer.