The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold
Cotswold boutique Cutter Brooks is a complete surprise. We expected another adorable but predictable homewares store with painted cups and impractical pot holders, but instead we walked into a delightfully fragrant, impeccably stylish magpie’s nest of treasures. Store owner (and ex Barneys fashion director) Amanda Brooks has brought a tastemaker’s eye to this raincoat-and-Wellies part of the world. Stop in, check out the ikat tablecloths, the scrunchies made from vintage Chanel scarves, the woven straw baskets straight from a Saint-Rémy market, and the classic pieces personally scouted by Brooks. Maybe the best shopping isn’t in London—it’s in sleepy Stow-on-the-Wold.
The Village Pub
The Village Pub serves excellent food every night of the week, but the Sunday lunch is otherworldly. A typical plate looks like this: thin slices of tender meat, extra-crispy roasted potatoes, airy Yorkshire puddings, and lashings of buttery vegetables all doused in a rich gravy. It’s intended to be a drawn-out, almost ceremonial affair. Everyone eats too much and somehow still finds room for apple tart, fruit crumble, or sticky toffee pudding). It’s all followed by a long ramble through the ridiculously lush Barnsley House grounds afterward. (It’s no surprise that the property was, at one time owned by a famous gardener—the late Rosemary Verey.) Food aside, the setting—low ceilings, blazing fires, sofas scattered with tartan cushions—invites you to sit, stay, and read the newspapers with a cup of coffee or perhaps a glass of port.
Staying at Lucknam Park is a lot like staying at Downton Abbey. The forty-two guest rooms are Georgian marvels, some with frilly canopy beds, all with chintzy wallpaper, silk lampshades, and antique mahogany writing desks—for all the letters you might actually write in a place like this. Evenings kick off with dressy drinks in the library. That’s followed by a formal feast—Scotch salmon bathed in butter, Wiltshire beef, that sort of thing—at Michelin-starred restaurant Hywel Jones. Lucknam Park’s inviting, relaxed atmosphere is luxurious but never stuffy. Between afternoon canters around the estate on one of Lucknam’s horses (there are also well-trained ponies for smaller riders), outdoor soaks in the saltwater pool, and patisserie classes at the superb cooking school, there’s little incentive to leave the estate. And it’s 500 acres, so why would you? But if you do, head to Castle Combe. The village has barely changed since the 1600s.
The Lygon Arms
High St., Broadway
History buffs—and everyone else—tend to swoon over the storied Lygon Arms, which has been operating as an inn since the fourteenth century (the current building dates to the early seventeenth century) and has a guest book that includes Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Taylor. Architecturally, the sprawling, wood-beams-and-vaulted-ceilings property doesn’t stray far from its Jacobean foundations. Rooms can be small, so we suggest going for the more-private cottage deluxe option. The ground floor is a maze of snug corners, stuffed sofas, leather armchairs, and antique memorabilia. The bar serves a gin and tonic that is beyond reproach, and the full English breakfast at the elegant Lygon Bar & Grill is worth the journey.