Lying roughly between the borders of Oxford, Cheltenham, Stratford and Cirencester, the Cotswolds represent a quintessential vision of Britain: gentle streams cutting through rolling pastures with quiet lanes and rambling cottages, not to mention a country pub round every corner.
With tranquil spots like Stow, Moreton in the Marsh, Bibury, Burford, Bourton-on-the-Water and Broadway to choose from, there's plenty of character to be found on holiday here.
Chain hotels may be limited in this most rural of areas, but this is because every B&B and hotel in the Cotswolds is individual, often housed in traditional stone and barn buildings. Rent a self-catered cottage or apartment here and it's a similar story. Besides the accommodation, there are excellent family activities in the Cotswolds, such as petting farms and lots of opportunities to go hiking, biking and wildlife-spotting.
A break in these characterful hills can be as relaxed or as energetic as you like. Choose where to base yourself depending on what you want to see; for example, if you're on a leisurely tour of the beautiful churches in the area, you might want to stay in one of the guest houses in Elkstone, which is near to the site of the highest of them all, the Norman church of St John's. Alternatively, for one of the most romantic streets in Britain, stay in Lower or Upper Slaughter in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds.
The quaint sights of Bourton-on-the-Water continue to draw most visitors in the region, with its low stone bridges and winding river giving it the name 'Little Venice of the Cotswolds'. Kids will be impressed by the wealth of exotic species and seven acres of wooded park at Birdland. You can also stay right in the heart of the village with any of the B&Bs or hotels that line the main street and riverbanks.
Make the most of the proximity to the Roman Baths and elegant Georgian buildings of Bath Spa and stay in villages like Castle Coombe or the grand hotels of Bath itself. The peaceful village of Broadway is also only a short distance from attractions such as Warwick Castle or nearby Stratford-upon-Avon, the historic home of Shakespeare. Those travelling to Winston Churchill's birthplace of Blenheim Palace might find Cotswolds hotels to their liking, especially around Oxfordshire market towns like Burford, which features the Cotswold Wildlife Park.
With so much visual appeal and so many things to do spread over no less than six counties, it's no wonder the Cotswolds have become a byword for idyllic English holidays. These villages are also surrounded with everything from antiques fairs to folk festivals like WOMAD in the summer months, as well as famous events like the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, so it's a good idea to reserve your accommodation ahead of time.
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