Have you seen the movie The Holiday? Cameron Diaz does a house swap with Kate Winslet and spends her holiday in an English countryside stone cottage. When I told my brother- and sister-in-law we were looking for somewhere to visit during the Christmas season, they set the scene for a perfect holiday in the Cotswolds (just like the movie). I found a picturesque cottage on Airbnb, and as Cameron Diaz asks in the movie, my first thought was “when can I come?”
While I didn’t have a Hollywood filmmaker to take around with me, I can give you a photo tour of the English countryside so you can fall in love with the region along with us.
Welcome to England
Our first stop on the trip was our Airbnb rental, a stone cottage on the edge of the village of Hampnett. You know you’re in the country when the directions call for you to turn at the driveway with the cattle grid!
The Old Schoolhouse, our rental, made our experience in the Cotswolds complete. I knew I wouldn’t want to leave the moment we stepped inside!
The mornings were filled with billowing fog, which we took advantage of as we strolled through the meadow near The Old Schoolhouse.
After our morning walk in nature, it was time to see the sites!
Bordering the Cotswolds to the north is Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare land! William Shakespeare was born, married and buried in Stratford-upon-Avon. It took me back to high school Shakespeare class with Mrs. Alleven! I’m hopeful some of Shakespeare’s creative energy passed along to us as we explored the city he lived in over 400 years ago!
At Royal Shakespeare Company, I played dress-up in the cloakroom.
If you have more time, one place I wish we could have seen Broadway Tower! Next time, and there will be a next time;)
Heading south into the Cotswolds, we discovered Stow-on-the-Wold was an ideal stop for restaurants, boutique store shopping and the most enchanting church door!
Don’t let the unwelcoming name deceive you. Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter were one of the highlights of our trip! These tiny connected villages were incredibly charming. We walked the canal-lined streets, with everyone we passed greeting us with a hello or a friendly word.
Each stone cottage featured a name placard by the door announcing the property or inhabitant’s name. My husband and I picked out plenty of cottages we’d love to have our name on!
There’s a walking and bike bath on the canal connecting the Slaughter’s to Bourton-on-the-Water, for the full rural countryside experience.
Visit a tea house when in Bourton-on-the-Water, and walk the “Venice of the Cotswolds”. The canal comes complete with a “floating” Christmas tree.
The phone booth door, made of cast iron, was much heavier than in my imagination.
We didn’t see Harry Potter in it, however the nearby Gloucester Cathedral was used for various film scenes in the first three movies!
While our cottage rental was in the country, the nearest larger city to us was Cheltenham. We spent each evening in the city, trying out a few of the many amazing restaurants the “food capital of the Cotswolds” has to offer. In addition to the food, my two favorite things in Cheltenham were the healing natural spring water (the city has been known as a spa town for hundreds of years), and discovering that they have one of few Whole Foods outside of the U.S.! If you come to town, bring a bottle to the Pittville Pump Room to try the healing water and visit the Chapel Spa for an Arabian Rasul treatment for two. I booked us an appointment, and my skin felt so smooth and refreshed after!
Anytime we weren’t visiting quiet villages and eating our way through the Cotswolds, we were relaxing (technology unplugged) at The Old Schoolhouse.
We cooked breakfast in the fully equipped kitchen and enjoyed our playful walks in the meadow.
Piano music filled the cottage.
There were games.
And plenty of cozy fires!
Happy holidays and Merry Christmas season from the Cotswolds!
If you haven’t been to the area and are planning a trip to England, it’s just a hop, skip and a Cotswolds stone’s throw from London. I give it the Native Gypsies stamp of approval.
Have you visited the Cotswolds? Tell us what stops were your most unforgettable!