Experience the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds district in West Central England is blessed with an embarrassment of riches, including perfectly preserved stone villages that literally stop you in your tracks.
The Cottage Garden with a circular stone seat and bust, Highgrove Garden, June 2011.
The gardens at Highgrove, the home of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are tucked into the picturesque Cotswolds countryside.

Among dozens of places to visit in the Cotswolds, glorious Bath, with its harmonious crescents of elegant Georgian buildings, should not be missed.

Charming Tetbury, a stone’s throw from Highgrove, is a definite must-see. The Close, in the market town’s center, features 20 beautifully appointed bedrooms in a sophisticated town house. Dine inside or out at The Bar at The Close, or book the more formal Garden Room Restaurant.

Ten minutes from Highgrove, The Hare & Hounds, an old Cotswolds manor, offers freshly decorated rooms. Jack Hare’s Bar has seating around the fire, and The Beaufort Restaurant is all about fine cuisine.

Three miles from Tetbury, Westonbirt, the National Arboretum is worth a stop. Home to 15,000 specimen trees from everywhere, it features the unforgettable STIHL Tree Top Walkway, along with walking trails and a café.

Other touring places include the town of Stow-on-the-Wold, a leading center for antiques shopping, where you’ll find furniture, art, silver, tole, and treen, as well as unusual decorative elements like old pub and shop signs.

Bourton-on-the-Water is another beauty, home to The Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection, housed in an old mill.

Tiny Bibury, dubbed Britain’s most beautiful village by Arts & Crafts designer William Morris, is a vision of picturesque cottages and the remains of a wall of an important Roman villa.

Six miles southwest, Cirencester has been a hub since Roman times. Visit the Corinium Museum of Roman artifacts and the Church of St. John the Baptist, with mounted coats of arms. But the real bonus is to repose in luxury at Barnsley House, former home of famed garden designer Rosemary Verey, a close friend of Prince Charles, who assisted him with Highgrove’s gardens. Staying in the romantic 18-room hostelry, where the two friends frequently met in Verey’s stunning 11-acre garden, is the perfect way to cap any Highgrove ramble.

By Marion Laffey Fox