Hillside Hangouts: The Cotswolds Reimagined

You’ll pass stunningly pretty honey-hued cottages, pink roses nodding at the door. You’ll meander along idyllic hills, the likes of which are normally painted in children’s books. This is the Cotswolds, with their world famous chocolate box appeal, making it one of the most visited – and traditional – corners of England.

When it comes to innovative places to stay, Domaine Farncombe up the ante. The 400-acre expanse is already home to some of the country’s most distinctive and immaculate boutique hotels – Dormitory, Foxhill Mansion and Fish. Known for their combined luxury facilities, which include an outstanding spa, fine dining and beautifully curated interiors, these are the ultimate addresses to stay in if you’re after a romantic getaway for two, or perhaps a grown-up weekend with good food, long walks and fresh air as a bonus.

While children are easily accommodated at all properties, Farncombe has expanded its offering for families and friends, with a more relaxed option of newly refurbished private homes. The launch of Hillside meeting place is, in part, a response to the growing trend of people wanting to take multi-generational breaks and groups of friends to reconnect. The collection of two holiday homes – known as the hoot and The corner – within the grounds of the estate, offers a stay that is both relaxed and luxurious for those who do not want to limit themselves to a hotel stay. The range of goods on offer should also expand soon.

At Hoot, a sprawling seven-bedroom home that sleeps 16, the fun factor has been sewn into its seams. Contemporary decor and modern facilities are a delight for adults and children.

On the terrace there is a bubbling hot tub, a table tennis table and a large barbecue. On the top floor, meanwhile, there’s a huge living room, plush sofas and an atmospheric wood-burning stove. A state of the art surround sound TV means this is the perfect place for movie nights.

Downstairs, the stylish kitchen diner has a Scandinavian feel with the sleek navy blue cabinets offset by mustard colored dining chairs and a blond wood table – large enough to seat 16 people. Le Creuset crockery and crystal glasses mean the finer details have not been overlooked and the cheerful space means fun meals are easy to organize.

Throughout the house there are also plenty of cozy nooks and hidden corners so that nowhere feels cramped and everyone can find space – essential when staying with a large group.

The series of rooms are spread over the two floors and are well spaced. Handcrafted bed throws by Cotswold Woolen Weavers, found in Lechlade, nod to the region. In fact, woven textiles, contemporary lighting, and comfortable fits mean that every room exudes the essence of hygge. There are sheepskin throws, velvet cushions and charming nature-inspired wallpapers – with botanical motifs, owls and trees. In fact, a Danish family has owned the estate for over four decades and you can feel the Nordic influence throughout the new venture. Adding to what feels like an upscale hotel vibe, each room has its own ensuite bathroom with French tiling, some with stand-alone tubs and walk-in rainfall showers.

Thoughtful touches are scattered throughout the house – so it feels like it’s more of a home than just a homestay. There are freshly baked shortbread cookies in the kitchen, a storage room full of boots if you want to walk in the fields, an office space if you need to work and the kitchen even has two dishwashers so no one gets stuck inside. wash the dishes . Coffee machines, fluffy towels – and plenty of them – and even retro arcade games ensure that everything has been brilliantly thought out.

While guests can access hotel restaurants, if they wish, self-catering is made super easy with “hospitality boxes” that you can order from a specially curated menu. There are ingredients to create a cheese and wine party; a movie night box, filled with candies, snacks and popcorn. The barbecue boxes are filled with local produce – from sausages from the butcher to salads made by the chef. You can also enhance your stay by ordering a lobster in garlic butter, or perhaps mussels marinara – both come with fries and crispy French bread. Handcrafted by the hotel’s chefs, you can also order prepared meals, such as the thinnest and crispiest pizzas, the gourmet fish pie and the delicious mac and cheese, not to mention the pavlova and the crumbles for dessert. For breakfasts, you can order the continental option – with pastries, yogurt and granola; or a full-English which is a feast of farm produce.

For lunches or evenings, The Lodge – which is the hub of The Fish hotel – is a short walk away. In the bar area, you can order from a family menu made up of wood-fired pizzas, salads and burgers. For something more “adult” there’s The Hook, which focuses on seafood – with lemon sole and prawns, oysters and fritto misto all ready to be devoured.

Adding a bespoke touch, so you never feel ‘forgotten’, each home also comes with a host, who seamlessly organizes your food deliveries – and even private chefs to cook for you – as well as all the activities you might want to book on the estate. From archery to ax throwing, falconry to clay shooting, you can enjoy a range of activities in the countryside, led by local experts. Ideal if you are on vacation in a mixed age group, these turn out to be totally related.

Of course, it’s also the perfect base to explore the beauty on your doorstep. Nearby is Broadway, incredibly pretty and a 30-minute walk from the estate. Note: the drive home is difficult, you may not want to do too much shopping. Or you can stroll to nearby quaint towns such as Burford or Bourton-on-the-Water.

As well as a 2km nature trail through the estate, walking trails are all over this part of the world, including the epic Cotswold Way, a 100-mile trail you can tap into. You’ll pass historic country pubs, limestone villages and winding farmland – made all the more tempting to return to the ultimate cozy home. That’s what sunny days are made of.


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