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Best villages in the Cotswolds

Posted: Fri, 11th Feb 2022
The Chequers, Churchill, Nr Kingham

Asking us to pick the best village in the Cotswolds is akin to choosing a favourite child. Whilst the streets filled with distinctive golden stone buildings, pretty cottages, and beautiful scenery come as standard, these picture-perfect villages have their own very individual personalities and characters. It can be hard to choose between them so below is a selection that, in our mind, epitomise the Cotswolds in all their glory. Maybe you’ll find inspiration for your next visit.  

Bibury

Home to the iconic Cotswolds cottages of Arlington Row, a dreamy terrace straight from the pages of a fairy tale and an image that may be familiar from its immortalisation on the inside cover of the British passport, Bibury is classic Cotswolds. Once quoted by William Morris as being ‘the most beautiful village in England’, Bibury is a small but perfectly formed village on the banks of the River Coln. After getting your fill of photographs of Arlington Row, visit the Bibury Trout Farm and enjoy a meal in the traditional village pub.

Broadway

Of the many places to visit in the Cotswolds, Broadway always features high on the list. With a beautiful, tree-lined, and distinctively wide High Street, hence the name Broad-Way, this bustling village is filled with independent shops, cafes, and excellent places to eat. Leave your car in the village and follow the Cotswold Way trail up the escarpment, through fields lined with drystone walls and filled with sheep, to Broadway Tower, a Capability Brown designed folly that stands high above the village. Your reward when you reach the top is glorious views over 16 counties. You can also hop on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire steam railway for a trundle through the pretty countryside to the racecourse in Cheltenham.

Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water immediately springs to mind as one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds. The River Windrush, with its green tree-lined banks meanders quietly through the heart of the village, spanned by five quaint stone bridges giving rise to its sobriquet ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, and ensuring this much-visited village is without a doubt one of the most beautiful. For us however, it’s also the wealth of attractions for visitors to enjoy including the quirky Cotswold Motoring Museum, Dragonfly Maze and Birdland Park and Gardens, which add to its endearing charm.

Coln St Aldwyns

This delightful village flies under the Cotswold hotspot radar and is all the more pleasing for it. It’s tucked away in a peaceful and undisturbed valley yet still has easy access to a multitude of Cotswold highlights including Burford and Cirencester. In contrast to some villages, Coln also retains a very authentic feel, remaining true to its rural roots with a community-run store and café and an excellent local pub. This is also superb walking country so pack your walking boots, bring your four-legged friend, and get out into the beautiful countryside and explore.

Great Tew

Great Tew is one of those villages that has always been idyllic, but until the Cotswold outpost of Soho House opened under the guise of Soho Farmhouse, it was relatively unknown. In our humble opinion however, this tiny village has always been delightful. Set on the magnificent Great Tew Estate, the view is unchanged over hundreds of years – dark golden-stone cottages are topped with thatched roofs and the pub dates back to the 16th century. In true twenty-first century tradition though, there’s also a superb coffee shop and deli.

Kingham

Lying peacefully, minding its own business in the Evenlode Valley, Kingham is a pretty village with everything you could possibly need for an idyllic Cotswold holiday. A local shop, traditional cottages lining the streets, and a multitude of stunning walks and cycling trails. It also boasts two fabulous foodie pubs – the Kingham Plough and The Wild Rabbit, and the eponymous Daylesford Farm shop is just under two miles away. At the end of August, music and food-lovers alike flock to the laid-back Big Feastival, held on Blur bassist-turned cheesemaker Alex James’ farm.

Old Minster Lovell

With Cotswold stone buildings and thatched roofs, Minster Lovell is a picture-perfect village lying on the north-eastern edge of the Cotswolds, bringing places such as Woodstock, Blenheim Palace, and Oxford within easy reach. This gorgeous village is surrounded by excellent walks, a 15th century pub filled with character, and is perhaps best known for the impressive ruins of Minster Lovell Hall.

Slad

Although tiny in size, the village of Slad has an impressive history and is best known for its depiction in the Laurie Lee novel, Cider with Rosie. Lying in the Slad Valley, one of a cluster of delightfully picturesque valleys in the southern reaches of the Cotswolds, the village offers excellent walks, which although occasionally strenuous are rewarded by magnificent views. As you follow the footpaths, with the trees below draped in wreaths of mist, you can see exactly why Laurie Lee was so inspired. Afterwards, refresh and revive with a pit stop at The Woolpack Inn, his favourite local drinking spot.

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