Stylist contributor Debbie McQuoid finds a corner of the Cotswolds where rain never stops play
One of my (many) guilty pleasures is propping up my iPad and enjoying a soak in the bath while watching a documentary. I call this my ‘me’ time. So the fact that Calcot Manor has a television in my bathroom means I’m sold from the minute I walk in. But there’s so much more to this deservedly raved-about 14th-century farmhouse than its privies.
Set just outside picturesque Tetbury, among a pretty backdrop of rolling fields, Calcot’s sumptuous and tasteful contemporary decor makes it the ultimate all-weather retreat - perfect for an, um, “unsettled” British summer. Choose the cosiness of the drawing rooms, with vast sofas you need help climbing off, or the rustic wood-clad Gumstool Inn for comforting pub grub, or the airy Conservatory for fine dining and spectacular views when the sun shines.
I stayed in one of the charmingly converted outhouses. Calcot’s generosity in space and in spirit means it appeals to families too, offering baby-sitting, monitors and blackout blinds along with board games. However the rooms in the main house are a strictly child-free zone, and the spa, although it offers a couple of family-friendly hours a day, is a grown-up and glamorous affair, with a slate-lined pool. I “recovered” from the soporific effect of my bespoke facial in the outdoor hot tub, warmed by the open fire.
The kitchen is all about seasonal local produce. Breakfasts are generous enough to set you up for the day, or at least until lunch when you can settle into The Gumstool for a local ale, gourmet scotch egg and cod and chips and watch the spa guests padding through the pub in their dressing gowns. An evening in The Conservatory is a more formal affair – actual clothes are required – but the food is worth this gargantuan effort. Dover sole, marinated beef fillet, home-made ice creams (banana toffee!): all hearty fare but delicately done.
If you feel the need, historic Beverston Castle is nearby, as are the many quaint chocolate-box villages where you can go silly on tea and cake, but I really don’t know why you would want to leave the bath, I mean, the Manor, at all. Ever.
Doubles at Calcot Manor (calcot.co) start at £179 per night
Cheltenham: An Eat-Inerary
A pub popular among visitors and locals alike. Lunch on Gloucester Old Spot sausage with mash and onion gravy, followed by Eton mess, for £15. (thebeehivemontpellier.com)
Brilliant gastropub in an elegant Georgian building. The menu is broad, but the pizzas are the star. Try a Rustica, with goat’s curd and roasted vegetables, £9.95. (thelangton.co.uk)
The Royal Oak
Nestled in the village of Prestbury, this is the closest pub to the racecourse – and it’s a corker. (royal-oak-prestbury.co.uk)