Long weekends are the perfect opportunity to explore and escape but you don’t need to go far, as I discovered when I went with a group of girlfriends to the Cotswolds. It’s always tricky to find a holiday destination that suits everyone. Just sorting out a time when everyone is free and somewhere with the right budget can be difficult, as well as finding somewhere that fits everyones ideas of the perfect mini-break can be equally challenging. My personal idea of taking a break and having some well-deserved relaxation is to indulge in all things I love. Doing nothing much doesn’t provide the escape and rejuvenation I want, but keeping active and treating myself to those things I generally have little time for certainly is!
The Cotswolds is a stunning part of England at anytime of year, with beautiful countryside dotted with quaint little villages. It’s no wonder that celebrities choose to buy their country retreats here. However, don’t assume that you’ll see any A-listers on your trip, as luckily for them there’s plenty of space to hide in between the hills and valleys in the Cotswolds rural surroundings.
Now, I’m somewhat reluctant to share my ultimate find of all weekend getaways with you but I would feel selfish not to. It goes by the name of The Barn Cotswolds. Tucked away in the village of Lechlade, you’ll have access to the real country life; walks through vast open fields and along the banks of the river, cycle rides down winding lanes with gorgeous pubs and restaurants along the way. The Barn itself is a beautiful traditional Cotswold stone building and is owned and run by the lovely Deborah. It sits within the grounds of Bridge House, a 17th Century building with real period charm and a beautiful garden.
Travelling as a group of 5, I was pleasantly surprised that The Barn could sleep us all and even had room for one more! Having booked three nights, we were keen to get straight into the Cotswold way of life as soon as we arrived. We explored the property, eagerly noting the outdoor barn, a bohemian hang-out with snug cushions, candles and fairy lights. Under its beautiful beamed stone roof there was table tennis and other games we were inevitable to become experts at by the end of our stay! We spent our first evening reveling in the peace and quiet of the countryside, a welcome relief from our busy lives in London. Being able to sit outside, with a clear mind and clean air was the perfect way to kick-start our weekend. Deborah, the owner and our host for the weekend, had planned lots of activities for us over the next few days, so we went to bed excited about what lay ahead.
We awoke early the next morning and headed straight to another building on the property, a converted gatehouse turn gym! Small but well equipped with TRX’s, a running machine, a rowing machine, VipR’s and weights, we were looking forward to a spot of early morning exercise. Two of us opted for an hours workout and tuition on the TRX, which I had never used before but loved. TRX is functional training using your own body weight so is great for beginners as well as fitness gurus as you can challenge yourself as much (or as little) as you like. As a regular gym user, I was keen to try something new and I can assure you I felt the burn later on. It was a sunny day so we took the workout into the garden to stretch and cool down. It was so refreshing to be outside after all the indoor gym sessions I do at home. After a quick shower, we dressed and woke the others and were ready for our pre-ordered breakfast.
Breakfast was an optional extra which we threw in as a treat. With plenty on the menu to choose from, we decided to keep it Hip & Healthy with home made muesli and granola with yoghurt, an abundance of fruit, fresh juices, teas and coffees. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day. The atmosphere and ambience at The Barn is both luxurious and yet at the same time, chilled. The birds are singing in the garden and the occasional flash of a dog’s tail (there are two, very friendly black labs belonging to the owner, who potter about) gives a true feeling of living the country life! After a couple of hours of reading, chatting and wandering in The Barn’s sizeable garden, we decided it was time to make use of the bikes available to guests and venture in search of our lunchtime spot. We were given a couple of suggested routes and set off through the village, stopping a few times to check out the local shops, before pulling up alongside a riverside pub – the perfect place for lunch.
With spa treatments booked later at The Barn, we eagerly cycled back, feeling very much entitled to some pampering. Although there isn’t a spa at The Barn, Deborah has a team of therapists on hand and had organized a range of treatments for us all. We had a couple of manicures and pedicures and a facial and I opted for an hour-long massage. It was lovely to be able to get straight into the robes provided, have our treatments and then just chill out in the gorgeous living area looking out onto the garden.
Having had a substantial breakfast and lunch, we took the opportunity in the evening, to test out The Barn’s well-equipped kitchen and rustled up a light dinner in no time. Feeling good from the workout, our adventures, some relaxing treatments and great food, we headed upstairs for a well-deserved 10 hours sleep.
So, if you’re looking for the perfect getaway, go to The Barn Cotswolds where there’s something for everyone! I know I’ll be returning.