The twee Cotswolds town that became a super-rich playground

Calcot Manor in Tetbury
Calcot Manor in Tetbury - Adam Lynk

We need to talk about Tetbury. Namely its morphing from the quintessential Cotswolds village into a townie playground. Full disclosure, I’m a bona fide townie, who is not impartial to a bit of “London vulgar”. I have an (I hope subtly ironic) fascination with fugly brands such as Versace and every so often become struck by an overwhelming desire to drink a smoothie containing acai. The question is, when does “London vulgar” go too far? When do people like me, with our loudly silly little foibles and habits, go from being contributors to the “quirky buzz” and “good for the local economy” when we venture out of the capital to an invasive monstrosity?

In my defence, at least I am a Londoner who only occasionally unleashes herself on the Cotswolds. At most, I’ll make one or two weekend trips per year. But I hear that the locals are getting fed up with the wealthy townies and international super-rich buying up second homes and poisoning the pavement daffodils with their Land Rover Defenders.

On a recent visit, I could somewhat see where they are coming from. The town centre is lined with people queueing for salted caramel doughnuts and chock-a-block with incompetently parked cars. Men in Lycra humblebrag about being “ridiculously unprepared” for the L’Étape du Tour over oat flat whites in the local bike repair-cum-coffee hangout. A jar of honey from the Highgrove shop costs £60.

Tetbury hotel Calcot Manor has just opened a new £5 million wellness and fitness complex
Tetbury hotel Calcot Manor has just opened a new £5 million wellness and fitness complex - Calcot Manor

The hipsters come for everything eventually – so it’s no use getting snooty about Tetbury hotel Calcot Manor building a new £5 million mega wellness and fitness complex bearing the inevitable name: the Grain Store. Nor that it has partnered with cult brand Proverb, best known for their refillable deodorants.

I admit with only the slightest pang of shame that I absolutely loved it. Of course the Grain Store is unashamedly OTT, a cross between a vegan café and Dubai airport, with couches huddled against backlit plant displays and gold-plated lockers. Suffused with the scent of sweat and bergamot, it was positively reeks of exclusive ambition.

Calcot Manor
'The Grain Store is unashamedly OTT,' writes Jacobs - Calcot Manor

Membership doesn’t come cheap, at £140 a month for non-hotel guests. But it also delivers the goods. My personal training session (£55 per hour) was more tailored than anything I have ever experienced. I vaguely mentioned beforehand that it would be good to do a few exercises to complement my ballet; trainer Verity tailored our session with a thoughtful precision that genuinely surprised me, from retire rotations and curtsy lunges to arabesque balances on the “wobble cushion”.

The Proverb stretch session that followed afterwards was a revelation. Bridging the gap between fitness and spa, the “Stretch Pod” concept is designed to improve mobility and recovery, with therapists using their body weight to ease you into usually unreachable positions. Verity told me it is particularly popular with men who are less than diligent about stretching after exercise.

Members can enjoy personal training for £55 per hour
Members can enjoy personal training for £55 per hour - Calcot Manor

Afterwards in the spa, I tried out a quirky new “Skin Workout Facial” whereby the therapist vigorously lifts and pinches your facial muscles then strokes them with cold spoons for a “tighter” look. (I think I noticed a difference, though it may have been the Instagram-friendly lighting of the changing rooms.)

If one were to describe Calcot Manor in a nutshell, it would be Cotswolds-on-Thames on speed; the kind of place where celebrity children’s birthday parties shriek maniacally from the private hire rooms. It’s potentially an absolute hoot, but you have to be willing to go with it. The decor is wellness-meets-the-Hundred-Acre-Wood, with log heaps cut into feature walls and giant scented candles lining the hallways. Lounges are more traditional, all botanical textiles and antique mirrors.

There are regular fitness classes at the new wellness centre
There are regular fitness classes at the new wellness centre - Calcot Manor

The service in the rest of the hotel isn’t quite as dedicated as the Grain Store, with staff overstretched in the restaurant, which is riotously popular with locals who come to devour oysters with champagne. Food is traditional with a trendy take and dependably delicious. I very much enjoyed my cheese souffle with truffle, and Orkney scallops slathered with yuzu butter.

After a packed day, I was relieved to retire to my bedroom, which of course had the obligatory on-trend accoutrements – Roberts radio, mirrored armoire, Aromatherapy Associates toiletries in the bathroom. It was also exceedingly cosy, with wood-beamed ceilings and a comfy bed.

The next morning after check-out I took a tour around Tetbury’s church, where a kind local lady accosted me and asked whether I was part of a coach tour, as there were “an awful lot of people walking around the graveyard today”. I did feel a bit bad. Then I went to the deli round the corner and loaded up on venison pie and pumpkin salad.

Double rooms from £334, including breakfast.

Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8YJ (01666 890391;

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