From gracious old farmsteads and magnificent manor houses to an ancient coaching inn creaking with Tudor character, the top luxury hotels in the Cotswolds combine a wonderful sense of history with contemporary style and outstanding modern British cuisine. Whether near picturesque Broadway in the north of the region or close to Bath in the south, location is a key attribute to them all: some offer serene escapes in acres of their own rolling parkland; some sit amid superb gardens; some are set in classic honey-stone villages that look as if they have been beamed in from a halcyon era of the past.
They all excel in providing creature comforts, whether crackling fires by kick-back sofas, canopy beds with soft throws, or suites with terraces and hot tubs. Facilities are top-notch too, ranging from beautiful bars and quiet terraces to blissful spas with state-of-the-art pools and even an opportunity for equine adventures.
How we review
Every hotel in this curated list has been visited by one of our expert reviewers, who are usually hosted on a complimentary basis. They stay for a minimum of one night, test at least one meal and trial other experiences that the hotel might have to offer.
At a glance, the best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds
Best luxury hotel in the Cotswolds for families – Calcot & Spa
Best luxury hotel in the Cotswolds with an outdoor swimming pool – Thyme
Best luxury hotel in the Cotswolds for horse-riding – Lucknam Park
Best luxury hotel in the Cotswolds with hot tubs – Dormy House
A mellow country house hotel in a dreamy Cotswolds village with a Michelin-starred restaurant. The situation is wonderful: undulating woods, formal gardens and parkland overlooking a lake. The lounge and bar have large picture windows overlooking the splendid landscape. Rooms have embroidered silk throws on the beds and soft lighting. The most expensive is The Tracy Room with a colonial-style four-poster bed. Michelin-starred dining is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The Atrium dinner menu may include chalkstream trout or crispy veal sweetbreads in a brown butter sauce (with wine pairings).
This renowned Cotswolds hotel is one of Britain's most historic inns – its guest list has included both King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell (but not quite at the same time). It's close to galleries and museums (including the Gordon Russell Museum), on the doorstep to beautiful walks, and has a terrific spa. The 86 bedrooms are stylishly comfy, all spruce with tartan bedheads and warm colours. Many are up creaky stairs in the main building; additionally there are 13 large courtyard rooms, six rooms in adjoining cottages and 31 in two modern wings, all with similar décor.
This gracious, 17th-century manor house is tucked into the heart of handsome Barnsley village – which lies in particularly lovely, rolling landscape. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. The four acres of greenery include a knot garden and a potager. Beyond is a terrific vegetable garden along with outlying meadows that back on to a dairy farm. The team at the spa – hidden in a garden dell – have added imaginative touches such as herbs drying outside the sauna so that the air is filled with their scent.
• The best Cotswolds hotels
Dormy House is complete treat of a hotel with stylish and deeply relaxing décor, terrific food and impeccable service. Its state-of-the-art spa has won armloads of awards. This handsome haven of comfort and wellbeing is above pretty Broadway on the north western edge of the Cotswolds. The property has been cleverly designed to feel like a wonderfully stylish home: you walk into a panelled hall with sitting rooms either side. Reception, with its hotel bustle, is behind in a light-filled atrium. In keeping with the Nordic origins of the Sorensen family owners, furnishings are Scandi-chic, with an emphasis on clean lines and quiet colours.
Whatley Manor is a country house haven set in rolling 12-acre grounds, with magnificent gardens and a terrific reputation for its food. Head chef Ricki Weston takes diners on a gourmet journey that starts with beautiful nibbles in the kitchen, where they can chat with the chefs and watch them at painstaking work. Seven exquisite courses are then served in the Dining Room, with a constantly changing menu celebrating the seasons. The extensive spa offers a hydrotherapy pool, aromatic thermal suites, sauna and more. A range of innovative treatments includes facials that take place in an oxygen tent.
The old stone manor house sits above sweeping lawns next to the church in one of England’s most famously pretty villages, Lower Slaughter. Facilities range from blissful gardens front and back – ideal for summer afternoon tea – to a tennis court. There’s no spa but treatments can be arranged in your room. Rooms are generously sized and individually furnished: Antoinette in the main house has a four-poster; Valentine in the Coach House glories in a lovely fireplace and his-and-hers slipper baths. The exquisitely presented dishes of chef Nik Chappell are based on Cotswold produce.
This splendid country house hotel just across from Cheltenham Racecourse welcomes families, couples, canines and groups in beautifully presented accommodation. It has a wealth of history, a great setting and bags of style. Generous grounds, a swimming pool, spa and sterling service complete the picture. They really go the extra mile too, providing concierge services and lending guests boots and jackets from a store room generously stocked with Dubarry outdoor wear. Outside the restaurant is a terrace planted with vines from Taittinger, which is a partner to the hotel. Beyond are glamorous pods for outdoor drinking – and dining in summer – and a giant chess set.
Thyme, Caryn Hibbert’s haven, started as a cookery school and has evolved into an epicurean country-chic hotel with a first-class restaurant and spa making it one of the best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds. All the rooms are individually devised by Caryn and named after flowers and plants. Pinewood was once a film room and it now features 1930s décor along with a projector and cinema screen; enormous English Rose is delicately decked out in subtle pinks and antiques, and has a fabulous chandelier in the bathroom. There’s a feel that no expense has been spared, even in the smallest rooms, which have signature features of beautiful linen and lavish curtains. Facilities are first-class, from the Meadow Spa with five treatment rooms to the heated springwater swimming pool, tennis court, topiary-filled garden and ample grounds beyond.
• The best old English inns
This beautifully devised hotel near Tetbury provides outstanding things to do for families as well as a serene space for adults, all in glorious 220-acre grounds with brilliant food and drink to match. However, the facilities really are the star of the show here. The spa is central to its success with a large indoor pool (plus separate kids pool), sauna, steam room, relaxation room, treatments and outdoor hot tub with a fireplace, it mostly pulls in the London crowd as well as the well-to-do locals. The Ofsted-registered Kids Club (or ‘Play Barn’) is fantastic for parents with four hours of childcare included for every night of your stay with no lower age limit. There’s also a heated outdoor pool, a cycling trail, a playground, tennis courts and disc golf.
Sitting at the top of a tree-lined drive, Lucknam Park is a refined 18th-century pile set in 500 acres of tranquil parkland. With a Michelin-star restaurant and a spoiling spa, it is one of the south’s best-known hotels and a truly indulgent escape. The 43 bedrooms range from Classic rooms up to Grand Master suites and follow a traditional country house style, with quiet florals, mahogany furniture, velvet, scarlet and gold trims and digital radios. Courtyard rooms sit behind the main house, some have patios and are dog-friendly. There are also six cottages dotted about the grounds for groups of friends, all with high-spec interiors featuring luxurious fabrics, full kitchens and private gardens. The equestrian centre sets the hotel apart, offering 35 horses for escorted rides
Contributions by Harriet Jones, Natalie Paris