The thing about growing old is that you have to give up certain things as adults, but that is all about to change at The Fish Hotel in Broadway with the arrival of three spectacular treehouses.
Due for completion in Spring 2018, each of these 50 sq m awesome retreats have been designed around the foot of an oak tree and include a ensuite bathrooms, a wood-burning stove, underfloor heating, an outdoor bath and importantly, a remarkably well stocked minibar.
Each treehouse is tailor-made for back-to-nature romantic seclusion as well as perfectly suited to forest-loving families with a taste for luxury as they can accommodate up to five people in one double, two twins and a sofa bed. One will be dog friendly too so you enjoy this woodland adventure with the whole family!
Keep an eye on The Fish Hotel's Instagram which will have as-it-happens updates and contact
www.thefishhotel.co.uk for more information.
For any keen traveller, hotelier or Sunday Times peruser, the 'Best 100 Places to Stay' guide has become a voice of authority when looking for a break in the UK. Yesterday, the 5th annual guide was published and 9 out of the "nation's best" 100 hotels are based here in the Cotswolds.
The guide is separated into 10 categories; Foodie, Budget, Seaside, City, Country, Family, Spas, Romantic, B&B and Pubs.
Here are the 9 establishments that featured with words taken from The Sunday Times
The Rectory Hotel, Nr Malmesbury
Former music-industry executive Alex Payne wanted his renovation of this lovely Cotswold manor in Crudwell to be both country and rock 'n' roll. The Georgian sitting rooms are bucolic and relaxed, but the mirror-backed, marble-topped bar is built for bad behavior.
Way before that, there's the prospect of modern British classics such as veal with baby artichoke and pork chop with capers in the conservatory dining room. The 18 rooms have original beams, velvet bedheads and cool art on the walls.
Doubles from £150 B&B
The Painswick, Painswick
This one scores a full house in Cotswolds-cliché bingo: a mullioned 18th-century mansion surrounded by mellow-stone cottages, overlooking the fulsome folds of the Slad Valley, outside Stroud. It's surprisingly affordable, which helped it win our Hotel of the Year crown in 2016.
There's a cocktail bar in an old chapel, a dinky spa and a tongue-in-cheek vibe (witness the Full Elvis breakfast, with waffles and peanut butter). The 16 rooms offer high-quality finishes and thoughtful touches such as homemade madeleines.
Doubles from £129
Soho Farmhouse, Great Tew
Soho Farmhouse's 40 cabins, set in 100 acres in Great Tew, nail the rustic-chic look, with slatted walls, woodburning stoves and homespun furniture. An electric milk float does the rounds dispensing "prinks" (pre-party drinks), and you'll want to spend time in the Boathouse, which has a magnificent 135ft indoor/outdoor pool, linked by a bridge to the vast spa.
Doubles from £350
The Bull Hotel, Fairford
There could be famous faces at the bar of this newcomer in the Cotswold town of Fairford - Kate Moss and Gary Barlow are friends of the owners - but it's the bull's head mounted over the fireplace that steals the limelight.
Downstairs, the decor is a theatrical mix of bottle-green walls, nostalgic photos and a coffee table inlaid with crystals. There's a candlelit dining room in the converted stables, and the 21 rooms feature Egyptian-cotton linens, feather duvets and vintage pieces.
Doubles from £100, B&B
The Fish Hotel, Broadway
High design values combine with plenty of highchairs at this bucolic bolthole outside the sleepy Cotswolds village of Broadway.
There's a cosy bar and a laid-back lounge that has a central woodburner, patchworks of comfy chairs in biscuity fabrics and shelves of fresh herbs. The staff, who could outlast and children's TV presenter for enthusiasm and energy, are on hand to organise activities in the Fish's 400-acre playground, including archery, off-roading and Segway safaris.
The 68 bedrooms are spread across four buildings and are fairly compact, with cosy armchairs and sheepskin throws, and there are five Hilly Huts - more woodburners, hot tub, private deck - aimed at couples.
Family rooms from £200 B&B
Calcot Manor, Tetbury
Don't feel too guilty about abandoning the kids as you soak in a lavender-lined outdoor hot tub, staring across at a roaring fire. They're in good hands at Calcot, which has Ofsted-registered nannies, arts and crafts for under-8s, PlayStations and a 12-seat cinema for bigger boys and girls, and babysitting for £10 an hour. The spa had a £300,000 makeover this year, including an impressive refit of the gym. We loved the muscle-melting Hydrotherm treatment, where you lie on warm-water cushions.
The bedrooms at this converted farm outside Tetbury do a nice line in understated glamour. Dress up for modern British dishes at the Conservatory restaurant; if you'd rather keep it casual. skinny jeans will do just fine at the Glumstool Inn, Calcot's own country pub. Yes, it does fish and chips.
Doubles from £209, B&B. Family rooms from £229 B&B
Artist Residence (Mr Hanbury's Mason Arms), South Leigh
This is the fourth in a much-loved mini chain of quirky properties, after London, Brighton and Penzance, and the group’s first foray into the countryside. The whimsical approach of the owners, Justin and Charlie Salisbury, transfers brilliantly to this 16th-century thatched pub in the cutesy village of South Leigh, outside Oxford.
Downstairs, there’s a higgledy-piggledy little warren of rooms with flagstone floors, beamed ceilings, oak panels, open hearths, deep leather armchairs and a couple of bars. So far, so standard nice country pub. Yet most country pubs don't have photo galleries of French wrestlers on the walls, or framed girlie playing-card posters, or loos with reclaimed prison-cell doors. Their dining rooms don't have acid-trip floral wallpaper or display cases with human skulls. The food's good, with the talented Leon Smith sicking to tasty classics such as steak with triple-cooked chips.
To win our romantic category, though, a hotel needs to score in the bedroom department. The five here are built into eaves and beamed, with luxurious Volga linen on the extravagant beds and powerful rainforest showers. (The Farmhouse Suite has a freestanding copper bath.) Six more rooms and a cafe housed in outbuildings will arrive next year.
Doubles from £130, B&B
Foxhill Manor, Broadway
First impressions are important. At Foxhill Manor, a sophisticated Arts and Crafts mansion outside of the Cotswold village of Broadway, they'r egathered with bubbly in hand in the stylish sitting room, watching the drama of the Malvern Hills unfold through the window while the faff of check-in is taken care of.
There are eight bedrooms, each one unique: Cupid has a four-poster and side-by-side freestanding baths. There's a cinema for reruns of Casablanca or Gone with the Wind, and dinner can be eaten pretty much anywhere that takes your fancy.
Doubles from £380, B&B
The Bower House, Shipston on Stour
The man behind this excellent restaurant with rooms in Shipston on Stour is Andrew Knight, a former editor of The Economist and the chairman of Times Newspapers. he has teamed up with his novelist daughter Afsaneh, and theyve spent big and, on the available evidence, wisely.
The five bedrooms are six-star havens with bespoke super-king beds. Some have huge shuttered Georgian windows, others light-filled bathrooms with Moorish tiles and marble-topped baths.
Paul Merrony, who gained a loyal following at his Giaconda Dining Room, in London, oversees the menu.
Doubles from £130, B&B
Click HERE to see the full list of the 100 top British hotels
To celebrate World Photo Day we thought we would share some of our pictures that we think best sum up the Cotswolds.
This harvest image was taken near Stow on the Wold during the lovely recent weather,
With many yards and Cheltenham Racecourse on our doorstep, horse racing is very popular in the Cotswolds! This was taken at Jonjo O'Neill Racing in 2015!
It is almost impossible to take a bad picture at Broadway Tower but this is one of our favourites with the low clouds in the distance hovering over the Vale of Evesham.
Taken at their 2015 production - Moon Songs. We are always amazed how they transform a tent in a field into a magical arena!
There are many quirly looking doors all over the Cotswolds! This one at St Edward's Church is one of Stow on the Wold's best kept secrets
There are many quirky events around the Cotswolds including Wool Sack Races, Football in the River and Cheese Rolling. This was taken at the Cotswold Olympiks in Chipping Campden!
This is William - Broadway Tower's resident stag!
A Good Local
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to good pubs in the Cotswolds!
The Cotswolds is full of stunning houses. This one can be found in Bourton on the Water!
A Good Bonfire Night
Many towns and villages make a huge effort on Bonfire Night! This was taken in Stow on the Wold last year!
In every town and many villages you will find lots of delicious local food and drink!
This stunning sunset was taken at The Big Feastival 2015!
There are amazing views all around the Cotswolds!
All images taken by The Cotswolds Gentleman
My wife and I have been staying in the Little Rissington since April and until last week there was one very important piece of The Cotswolds we were yet to experience, Gifford’s Circus. Since arriving in England and finding ourselves in the unique world that is The Cotswolds, time after time we have been told that we must go to Gifford’s. Now I’ll be honest, the idea of a circus didn’t overly tickle my fancy. When I think of a circus I think of a sad looking clown (probably with a flower on his top that squirts water) and some even sadder looking animals. Well, never have I been happier to eat my own words!
We were met in the field of the Barringtons by vintage wagons selling fairy floss (or candy floss as the English call it), popcorn, pizza and lollies. We wandered about the field and took in our surroundings as we waited to be granted access to the big top tent. As we entered the tent I was impressed by the set and surprised by the space inside. It felt like they had used an undetectable extension charm, like something out of Harry Potter. We carefully chose our seats, near the front and in the middle, but hopefully in a spot that wouldn’t have us selected for any audience participation. It wasn’t long before we finally met Tweedy. He was the
Gifford’s staple that we were told would be the highlight.
Let me establish something early... I hate clowns. In fact, I might even be scared of them. Their creepy make up, massive shoes and wigs just don’t sit well with me. All in all they just seem awkward. I’m happy to admit Tweedy is the exception to my hatred of clowns. Thankfully he didn’t have any of the above mentioned shoes, wig and makeup combination. Most importantly, he was incredibly fun. He had a cheer about him that seemed completely genuine and was unbelievably contagious. He did the opposite of any other clown and made me feel comfortable, almost to the point of being willing to join in if asked upon, almost! For the next hour we were enthralled by whip cracking, singing, dancing and a small array of happy (thank goodness) looking animals. Even intermission provided a highlight for us, with a good old-fashioned English cup of tea (poured from an enormous Emma Bridgewater pot) and some banana cake.
The second act was when Gifford’s really began to shine. The performances went up to another level with juggling, some sort of rug twirling that was quite incredible and amazing acrobatics. Tweedy again provided great entertainment and kept the crowd laughing throughout.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the whole show was the genuine enjoyment the performers seemed to have in doing what they do. It was completely contagious and had everybody in the crowd smiling and laughing from start to finish. The conclusion of the show highlighted this more so than any other moment, with the entire cast dancing as they thanked the crowd.
Gifford’s Circus well and truly lived up to the hype and is an experience I will forever recommend to any friend that visits The Cotswolds. A win for Gifford’s and a win for clowns everywhere!
We never asked for crockery, picture frames or pots and pans when we got married in April, we asked our guests, with the help of the fantastic Audley Travel, to create our perfect honeymoon. This started with a trip to the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania.. a visit that will live with us for the rest of our lives.
After boarding three planes of differing sizes via Birmingham, Dubai and Dar es Salaam, the final leg of the journey saw us climb aboard a 4 seater machine that would embark on the 45 minute flight into the bush. The "it may be a bit bumpy on the way up" statement from the wannabe Maverick (or Goose) pilot was a huge understatement, and for someone who has never suffered from any form of travel sickness, I couldn't wait to get off.
As we touched down at the second attempt we were greeted by giraffe lining the airstrip that if we didn't know better you may think they are placed there to start everyone's safari off in style! The drive from airstrip to camp was around an hour but this was no ordinary airport transfer. After seeing lots more giraffe, the first of many impala, zebra and a glorious sunset we eventually reached our based for the next five days - The Lake Manze Camp. Located on the edge of the aforementioned lake this was a camp like no other.
We were introduced to Shaun and Milly, our torchlight wielding camp hosts and were immediately told of the actual dangers and the animals that frequently pay a visit to the camp. "Look and Listen" and never walk anywhere without the Maasai - the spear and wooden mallet brandishing camp guards. These guys are amazing. They literally just appear when you wish to go somewhere like the 100 yards to our tent and back again!
The tents were wonderfully basic. A concerned Jess from Audley had worryingly, and continually, warned us that it "is very rustic. It's in no way glamping or luxury" and would defend it by saying "but you are in the middle of it all". What Jess didn't realise is that no electricity and wifi were a couple of things we were looking forward to most. The flushing toilet and shower, albeit out in the open at the back of the tent, were all we needed. We reached tent number 3 where two lanterns were alight on our verander that looked out towards the lake. This was a room with a view!
We got changed, zipped up our tent as a Maasai appeared, and wandered back to camp where we decided, over a bottle of Tusca and a G&T what we wished to do the next day. We opted for a morning drive and lake safari. This, we thought, would give us the best idea of what to expect during the rest of the week. Dinner was then served on a long table and we were ushered to one end. We didn't realise until the penultimate night that there was a pecking order at meal times - by day 4 were sat right next to Milly and Shaun - We had earned our safari stripes!
After waking at 5.30am on day one to the hippo alarm clock I looked out towards the lake waiting for the sun to appear. The sound of the animals coming to life on a new day was magical. We were escorted to breakfast and saw the camp in daylight for the first time. It was surrounded by palm trees and looked as though it was built using only material within 100 meters. There were no walls which gave you a 360° panoramic view out towards the lake and into the bush.
Our Landrover defender arrived and we met our guide - Haroun, and driver - Emmanuel. We hopped in and were off into the bush. Shaun had informed us that there had been a lion sighting but it was still down to luck as to whether we got to see one or not. We saw many impala and baboon withing 30 meters of the camp and as we ventured deeper there were lots of giraffe, wildebeest and incredible looking birds. It was around an hour in when our driver thought he had spotted a lion stalking two wildebeest heading for a drink. He wasn't wrong and we waited to see if there would be a hunt. After a few minutes the lion started calling in the direction of a tree where two cubs, a two year old male and an older female were sat. We later learnt that this was Grandma, grandchildren and mother. We drove up surprising close and they were not phased at all. They were actually so calm that it looked like you could hop out and give them a stroke.. "make your last wish before you do" Haroun advised!
We sat with the lions for a good 20 minutes and followed them as they went to find mum who had finished scaring wildebeest. We watched them for around and hour. I could have sat there all day. We drove a little further and it wasn't long before we discovered another pride with two younger cubs who were equally as placid and rather just fancied a sleep in the shade than being bothered by some English tourists! This was a our first morning and we were being spoilt.
On making our way back to camp for lunch there were reports spreading of a leopard sighting and there like a flash it flew by and headed for some thicker undergrowth. We searched for a while but to no avail. Little did we know that this was the start of the search for the very elusive big cat! Lunch was served as we all chatted about the morning and how each of us had very different experiences and we waited until it was time to visit the lake.
After a short drive we reached the banks of Lake Manze and were introduced to Pascal our guide and potential lifeguard. He would drive the boat towards the edges where we'd come face to face with a crocodiles until they slid gracefully into the water. We caught our first sight of hippos and headed closer. Their raucous calling made us realise that when we heard them from our tent that they were probably about 500 meters away and not just outside the door like we first thought! They were bloody massive and had what looked like the easiest life going. Wake up. Eat Grass. Go to the Water. Stay there until dark. Eat more grass. This was a lifestyle that could last for 40 years!
The light was fading and the sky was turning slighty fiery but nothing prepared us for the natural beauty that was just about to occur. Within minutes there was the most incredible sunset you could ever imagine and images that you never really believed existed!
It was truly spectacular but never really had time to take it all in as darkness fell and we were soon back in camp for dinner and deciding what we wanted to do the following day.. we choose a full day safari drive with lunch in the bush as we wanted to see more lion and anything else the bush had to offer. The day started by seeing an elephant wander past the lake outside our tent. As we reached breakfast, the elephant and five friends had reached the camp. They were about 20 yards away from where we were having breakfast and stopped there for at least half an hour eating fruit from the trees before bashing there way on further along the edge of the lake. This was very special.
The full day safari drive is far more relaxed although you are on high alert all day. You get to study the habits of the animals a lot more and although we didn't see lion there was an abundance of wildebeest, buffulo, waterbuck, warthog, kudu, monkeys, baboon, giraffe and of course impala, aptly nicknamed Macdonalds - Fast food! We were also informed that although Selous didn't have the "big 5" (as there were no rhino) it did have the "ugly 5" which included the Marabou stork, hyena and the aforementioned warthog, baboon and wildebeest!
We drove for hours until our Landrover, that had reached 260,000 miles on the clock, went bang. This wasn't an issue as they sent out another straight away while we enjoyed a delicious lunch in the middle of nowhere after which we went on a hunt for leopard. I think we checked every tree in Selous that had the right sort of canopy and every shaded gully in the ground but there was no sign and we eventually headed back "home". On the walk back to our tent we were stopped in our tracks as elephant were gathering near our verander. After a couple of spear on mallet taps from the Maasai, he soon meandered off into the bush. A wonderful fish dinner was served and we were gradually creeping up the table!
After another morning drive without a lion spotting it proved how fortunate we were to see two prides on our very first morning. We discovered a lone elephant and after getting a little closer we noticed that there were a few more behind. We followed them for a few minutes and switched off the engine to watch them pass. This is where an overprotective group member got a bit shirty flapping his ears, kicking some dirt and raising his voice. He was close. Like 4 feet away from the Landrover close. A rev of the engine is enough for them to keep their distance but the new Landy had either a dodgy starter motor or battery - whichever it was, it didn't start! The driver banged the side of the vehicle and the elephant eventually retreated! Ourselves and the guide loved it. Emmanuel wasn't so keen!
We took another relaxing trip on the lake that afternoon and the hippo were more vocal with one coming a little too close for comfort to our boat that was no bigger than a rowing boat. "No problem" said a smiling Pascal. I presumed he had sensed our fear as those were not the words I was using! We spotted a lone buffalo and watched him munch the foliage for a while without a care in the world - us and him!
That evening we headed back to the tent to prepare for dinner. After reaching camp and organising the next (and our last) morning activities we were told to pack up our things. What had we done wrong? Well actually nothing.. Milly and Shaun had prepared a champagne meal for us on our verander for our final evening. It was a wonderful gesture and again the food was truly delicious. It felt as if we had won a trial on I'm A Celebrity and a perfect way to spend our last night.
The following morning we said our goodbyes. We had only known the place for 5 days but we were very sad to be leaving. It was genuinely a home from home and Milly and Shaun were the most perfect hosts.
Again the transfer to the airport was like no other. We left camp at 8am to catch our 12.50. En-route we saw one of the prides of lion that we had seen on day one and then a couple of hyena enjoying a wildebeest breakfast under the watchful eye of a menacing wake of vultures. It all seemed so natural. There is a food chain that you respect and appreciate. It's the way it is and the way it has to be.
We reached the airstrip hoping for a better flight out. This was the greatest experience that we had ever had and we didn't want to leave. But with an order to put your belts on by the pilot we were wobbling around in the air and within minutes the bush disappeared out of sight and we were heading back to Dar es Salaam.