Ever since Oliver whisked me off to the Cotswold’s for our first weekend away together, it has officially become one of my favourite places in the UK. My first experience of a ‘Cotswold’s Country Retreat’ was The Wheatsheaf Inn, setting the bar extremely high, becoming one of our favourite places to visit. We got engaged at the beautiful Barnsley House, dining at both The Potager and The Village Pub. Our plan is to explore and eat our way around the amazing Cotswolds Countryside.
Four months ago, Murphy the Border Terrier joined our little family, he has fast become our favourite thing in the world (seriously, think I love him more than Oliver). With a little weekend escape in the pipeline, we didn’t want to leave our fur baby at home, so we needed to find ‘Doggo Friendly’ accommodation.
The great thing about the Cotswolds, due to the sprawling countryside, there are bundles of Dog Friendly stays available. We decided we wanted to experience two separate locations over the weekend, we opted for a pit-stop in Chipping Norton, with our end location being Cheltenham.
We happened to have booked our Staycation when the South East had the first snowfall of the year, whilst the rest of the UK was in meltdown, we were excited at the thought of snow-covered countryside. Murphy also got to experience snow for the first time which was the cutest thing ever!
The Falkland Arms, is quite possibly the cosiest little B&B I have ever stayed at. Nestled in a quaint little village, the thatched, chocolate box, 16th century building, overlooks the lush village green. Walking through the door, I was greeted by the comforting smell of the open fire, mixed with the hoppy smell of the local ales. The flagstone floor, stone walls and low oak beams creates a cosy, rustic atmosphere.
Our room was located in the attic, if you are not a fan of narrow, spiralling staircases, or have an issue with stairs altogether, I would advise to let the B&B know prior to booking. We however, loved it! The creaky floorboards, low ceilings and traditional leaded windows really provided the perfect country setting. All rooms have en-suites, our bathroom seemed newly fitted. Modern in comparison to the rest of the room, the contemporary bathroom had sparkling white tiles and chrome taps. It was quite a ‘cosy’ room due to being located in the rafters, if you are over 6ft you may find it a little uncomfortable, we found this added to our country experience, then again we are not the tallest couple.
What we ate
Olive Tapenade with Flatbread – Lovely homemade Tapenade
Smoked Salmon, Dill, Horseradish Mousse with Citrus Crème Fraîche – This was tasty overall, however I found the Horseradish Mousse and Crème Fraiche to have a very wet consistency and found it a little too much to eat with the Salmon.
Ham Hock and Smoked Cheese Croquette, Pea and Mustard Velouté – Oliver cleared the plate very quickly, I assume this was a thumbs up.
Catch of the Day in Crispy Wadworth Beer Patter, Pea Puree, Chips & Tartare Sauce – I adored the batter, it was not too greasy, the fish was cooked perfectly.
Wild Mushroom, Thyme & Truffle Risotto with Crispy Parsnip Shavings –One of the best Risotto’s I have ever eaten. I adore Truffle, however I find that Risotto can be very heavy and usually I have had enough halfway through. I polished off the lot and could of eaten another bowl.
One main thing we loved about The Falkland Arms, was the friendly staff and locals. It was very apparent when we arrived that this is very much the local village pub. We arrived on a Friday lunchtime, greeted by the local shoot celebrating the last day of the season. The atmosphere was friendly, many of the regulars came over to speak to us and of course fuss over Murphy.
Breakfast was included in our stay, as well as a lovely continental spread, you can also choose from a variety of cooked breakfast options. I opted for Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs, you can also choose dishes such as Eggs Benedict and a Full Fry.
Excluding our dinner, we paid a total of £110.00 for an overnight stay with breakfast. Even though we stayed out of season, taking into consideration the picturesque surroundings and idyllic location, the price is extremely reasonable. Overall, we loved our stay at The Falkland Arms, friendly staff, comfortable, cosy and the local ales and food was amazing!
The Cotswold Grange is a far cry from the traditional country vibe of The Falkland Arms. The 19th century building has been elegantly renovated without losing its character and charm. Located in the leafy, city suburb, The Cotswolds Grange offers stylish, affordable luxury.
The reception, bar and restaurant of this boutique hotel, showcases lofty ceilings, an impressive central staircase and plush furnishings with an urban twist. We were upgraded to a Superior Double Room, suitable for both us and Murphy. Our hotel room was clean, modern with a ‘Shabby Chic’ twist and incredibly spacious. The bathroom seemed to be newly fitted with wood-effect tiles, bath with overhead shower, as well as mini Orla Kiely toiletries. The bed was absolutely gigantic, it was super comfortable and we had an amazing night sleep. Due to the bed being the main feature of the room, I felt it was missing a cosy throw and possibly the addition of a statement pillow.
Where the room itself lacked a little ‘something something’ the food made up for it by the bucket loads. Due to having a fur baby we were unable to eat in The Drawing Room restaurant, however, the bar was the perfect alternative setting.
What we ate:
Warm Salad of Heritage Beetroot, Rocket, Goats Cheese BonBons – Beetroot seems to be one of the vegetables of the year, paired with the delicious cheesy BonBons, this dish was delicious.
Grilled Cauliflower Steak, Spiced Cauliflower Puree, Crispy Kale and Raison Dressing– I am not usually a fan of Cauliflower. I can officially say I am now a Cauliflower fan. This dish was amazing, cleverly created and packed full of flavour.
Pan Fried Sea Bream, Leek Fondue Romanesco Sauce – Oliver said the fish was cooked perfectly. I did try the Leek Fondue and Romanesco Sauce which was divine.
Warm Pear and Almond Tart, Vanilla Crème Anglaise – Well, fruity, creamy, deliciousness. The pear was cooked to perfection and the pastry melted in your mouth.
I was initially a little disappointed that their were just three starter, main and dessert course options on offer. However, we quickly realised that The Cotswold Grange is a family run hotel, with a very small and dedicated team. The lovely staff member who checked us in, also took our food order, made our cocktails and was turning the restaurant around for breakfast the next day, completely on her own. The service however was still quick, incredibly friendly and completely on the ball at all times.
The Cotswold Grange offers smooth, city sophistication, mixed with a chic, country edge. Although a small menu, the The Drawing Room restaurant offers British cuisine packed full of flavour. With a truly amazing team of staff, who go above and beyond and an amazing night sleep. The Cotswolds Grange is priced around £125.00 for a one night, weekend stay in February. We would highly recommend a visit if you plan on staying in the beautiful town of Cheltenham, with or without a furry friend.
We enjoyed our stay at both of these beautiful country escapes, each with their own style, personality and picture perfect setting. It was very clear that the owners and staff of these properties were dog lovers, offering blankets, treats and dog beds for those who require it, Murphy was well and truly spoilt for the entire weekend. We were also impressed at the impeccably clean bedrooms!
Offering dog friendly accommodation, some may think you are welcomed to hair-covered pillows, scratched door frames, chewed chair legs and an overpowering ‘doggy odour’. We were impressed at the crisp white linen, beautiful furnishings, incredibly clean carpets, and no, no doggy smell. Not once did we feel like we were staying in a room that had frequent doggo’s bedding down for the night.