Do you ever find you’re so fixated on heading abroad or to remote parts of the UK that you just don’t get round to appreciating some of the beautiful destinations which are much closer to home? In this article I’m going to tell you about things to do in the Cotswolds and where we stayed at the luxury Cotswold cottages at Bruern in Oxfordshire – just two hours away from London and less than 90 minutes from Bristol.
MICHAEL PAUL HOLIDAYS
Our stay at Bruern Cotswold Cottages was arranged through Michael Paul Holidays who specialise in personally vetted, high quality holiday lodges, log cabins, villas, luxury apartments and cottages in and around some of the most beautiful coastline and countryside in the UK and Ireland.
BRUERN COTTAGES REVIEW
Bruern Cottages is a group of luxury self-catering properties near Chipping Norton in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, about 70 miles from Bristol and 85 miles from London.
One wintery Friday night I found myself sitting next to a blazing log fire with a glass of champagne in hand, chatting to owner, Sara Astor less than ninety minutes after leaving my home in Portishead.
Driving from London to The Cotswolds takes around two hours so these holiday cottages are handy for a weekend break from the South East and the South West. The country roads approaching Bruern are dark, and I’m extremely lazy about map reading these days, so I was pleased that my phone sat nav was accurate and took me straight to my destination. I left my car in the free guest parking adjacent to the cottages and carried my bag a few yards to Aintree cottage – my country house for the night.
Bruern describe their properties as:-
12 luxury self-catering cottages in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds offering the comfort and attention to detail of a good hotel, combined with the privacy, independence and space of home, amidst the civilised ease and style of English Country House living.
Michael Astor (son of 2nd Viscount Astor and Nancy) bought Bruern Abbey and estate in 1947 and the family began converting the old stable block and outhouses opposite the stately home, Bruern Abbey, in 1992.
Each cottage is different but the decor and furnishings are consistently elegant. Despite being adorned with antiques and plush fabrics which wouldn’t be out of place in a stately home, Bruern Cottages feel so cosy that it’s easy to imagine you’re staying in your own country pad. Within minutes of arriving I felt completely at ease in our English country house for the night, aided by the comfy sofas, roaring fire and glass of champers from the amazing welcome pack. We wanted to make the most of the cottages so we brought along a pre-prepared dinner and enjoyed staying in, chatting, eating, drinking and popping the odd log onto the fire until the early hours.
How would you like to sink into this four poster bed for the night?
And these twin beds would be perfect for children or friends.
WHAT’S PROVIDED AT BRUERN COTTAGES?
Guests are provided with a generous welcome basket which oozes luxury. In the evening we sipped glasses of Monopole champagne from the basket and in the morning we feasted on a breakfast we cooked in the well appointed kitchen: Paddock Farm sausages and bacon, Cacklebean eggs (which made the yummiest, orangy yellow scambled eggs I’ve ever seen) and fresh locally sourced apple juice.
Other goodies include artisan cheese and home made cake, along with less glamorous yet eminently practical self-catering essentials like washing up liquid and washing powder!
A generous selection of Elemis personal grooming products is also supplied including shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
They’ve thought of pretty much everything so there’s very little you’d need to take for a night or two away.
WHAT FACILITIES ARE THERE AT BRUERN COTTAGES?
After over-indulging in a yummy breakfast, of course we had to aid our digestion by taking a turn around ‘our’ estate. Bruern are rightly proud of their impressive gardens which have been graded at 100% by visit England. Features include an old walled garden, croquet lawn and a tunnel of wisteria and apple trees which runs the length of the garden. Numerous bulbs are planted each year and Sarah Astor told me that the fresh flowers which you find in the cottages are sourced from their cutting gardens, tended by their own in house gardener. We enjoyed our winter walk and I can only imagine the full glory of the gardens in spring and summer.
POOL, SPA & GYM
The indoor heated pool has patio doors which open onto a garden. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that swim nappies are provided! There’s also a spa and gym.
Young children are well catered for and can choose from a furnished wendy house and a play cabin for indoor fun. Outside they can play football, child size croquet or take a spin on one of the pedal vehicles.
For older children there’s also a games room equipped with a pool table, table football, table tennis, plus a 75″ 4K TV and games consoles with split screen games so they can play together. Shh! Please do NOT mention this part to my boys!
In Aintree cottage, the space under the stairs had been cleverly made into a miniature playroom complete with a child-sized door. Absolute genius use of an awkward space and a fabulous den for little ones!
WHO WOULD STAY AT BRUERN COTTAGES?
Bruern Cottages is ideal for couples, families or groups of friends. Having twelve cottages together offers scope for large gatherings.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO STAY AT AINTREE COTTAGE?
Aintree cottage sleeps 6 and rates currently start at £800 for two nights at the weekend.
WHAT TO DO IN THE OXFORDSHIRE COTSWOLDS
Things to do in The Cotswolds near Bruern:-
Visit a market town
Choose one of the attractive honey coloured stone historic market towns nearby and enjoy unspoilt architecture, browse antique shops or eat at one of the quaint tea shops or traditional pubs: Chipping Norton (5.5 miles), Stow-on-the-Wold (7.5 miles) or Burford (6 miles.
Appreciate the natural beauty of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds on foot.
Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
Head to Cotswold Wildlife Park where you can enjoy a family day out with 160 acres of parkland and get up close to more than 260 animal species.
Cogges Farm Museum
Historic farmstead in the heart of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with farm animals and gardens.
Visit the charming English village known as “Venice of the Cotswolds”.
Home to over 500 birds in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Cotswold Motor Museum and Toy Collection
Extensive collection of vintage cars and motoring exhibits alongside historic toys and a gift shop.
Have you been to The Oxfordshire Cotswolds? What would you recommend doing here?
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I WAS A GUEST OF BRUERN COTTAGES AND MICHAEL PAUL HOLIDAYS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW.
ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN. ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS.