Visiting the Cotswolds at any time of year is always pretty special, but two weeks before Christmas is something different entirely. Embracing the beauty of the countryside and traditional nature of their historic villages, the people of the Cotswolds do Christmas in a magical way. With the twinkling fairy lights zig-zagging overhead, the glow from boutique bakeries and cosy interior shops are more inviting than ever on a cold winters day.
Although a sprinkling of 5-star hotels and spas are on offer (if you can get a booking!), the only way to truly embrace the Cotswold way of life is to hunker down in a local pub or B&B. But these aren’t your average village inns, they’re up there with the best – think chunky knit throws, plaid pillows, roll top baths and big open fires. This was certainly the case at The Sheep on Sheep Street in the beautiful town of Stow-on-the-Wold.
On a dreary Friday afternoon and full of a heavy cold, the festive cheer and warming cup of tea couldn’t have been more welcome as I snuggled down in one of their oversized armchairs. Thankfully we were just in time for a late dinner in the restaurant and were shown to one of the last tables available – yep, no early bird specials in Stow, the place was full of Christmas parties and locals alike. With printed tiled flooring, high ceilings and modern copper fittings, the space was a mix of retro cool and urban tradition. Although stylish, this did mean that it was incredibly noisy and we struggled to hold a conversation at times. Luckily, the food was so delicious, our mouths were too stuffed to talk aside from the odd nods of approvement and swapping forkfuls. In an attempt to curb my cold, I opted for the Superfood Salad. Boring you might think but it’s warm quinoa, ripe avocado and kale with a ginger and almond dressing was the health hit I needed.
After wolfing down a rather indulgent Chocolate, Marshmallow and Strawberry Pizzetta dessert made in their very own wood fired pizza oven, it was time to crawl back up to our room. Situated on its very own floor, under low beams and up a secret staircase, the bedroom opened out to reveal exposed eaves, vaulted ceilings and a warm, dark ambiance. Vintage Penguin book covers adorned the wall alongside tongue-in-cheek quotes and pops of colour against moody greys and textured neutrals. There may not have been a roll top bath but in its place, a huge corner bath complete with digital controls (that’s right!), a seat and enough room to stretch out with room to spare. Bliss.
I’m not going to lie, it took a lot to prize my head away from the buttery soft pillows (no foam filling here) and get up. With the restaurant to ourselves, breakfast was a stark contrast to the night before. Flooded with natural daylight and just a couple of staff milling around, we ordered smashed avo on toast with poached eggs and treated ourselves to natural yoghurt with fresh berries to start the day. As the rain poured down outside and I nursed my cold over a cup of hot water, lemon and honey, there was nowhere else I would rather be on a chilly day in the Cotswolds.
Sheep on Sheep Street, Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, GL54 1AG
Tel: +44 (0)1451 830344
The hotel is located in the picturesque market town of Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire and a two-hour drive from Central London via the A40 and M40. The restaurant is open daily from 8:00am to 11:00pm.
Type of Hotel: 4-Star Inn
Number of Rooms: 22 en suite rooms with complimentary Wi-Fi
Ask reception for a walking map for the best stomps in the area.
Price Band: Medium
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Jessica Harris is a UK-based journalist with a background in fashion, beauty and travel journalism
Photographs courtesy of Sheep On Sheep Street