When you think of the British countryside, the Cotswolds is one of the most picturesque areas to visit. With beautiful Cotswolds villages and towns to explore and some of the best pubs in the UK, it’s popular throughout the year. Bruern Cottages, luxury self-catering accommodation near Kingham, Oxfordshire is a great base from which to explore nearby Daylesford Farm and current holders of EnjoyEngland’s Gold Award for quality. Let’s take a tour…
This collection of 12 luxury Cotswold cottages is located in the grounds of Lady Astor’s Bruern Abbey, in the little village of Bruern. It’s close to Kingham, Chipping Norton and Burford yet easily accessible from London. Arriving outside Cope Cottage, we admired the honey coloured stone building. The noise and stress of London seemed a long way off already! We stepped through one of the cottage’s three entrances and were immediately impressed with the spaciousness of the living space. There was a huge lounge with a dining area, bookcases and comfy sofas. The dining table extends to accommodate large groups and for that reason, Cope is often hired as an entertaining space by people renting the other cottages. Our favourite feature was the log fire, which was mesmerizing to watch whilst enjoying a cup of tea. There are plenty of logs stacked up on the side of the cottage so definitely make the most of it!
The bedroom has a real wow factor, with a magnificent canopy bed and soft furnishings from Nina Campbell, Colefax and Fowler and Osborne and Little. The double-height oak beamed ceiling adds to the attraction. There’s a door to one of the cottage’s two private patios and an en-suite bathroom stocked with Elemis, Neal’s Yard and White Company toiletries. Inside a vintage wardrobe you’ll find fluffy towelling robes, perfect for lounging by the fire.
Before our stay, we’d received confirmation by email with details on how to get to Bruern and instructions for those arriving outside of reception working hours. They’d mentioned that we’d receive a welcome pack but we weren’t expecting one quite so lavish as this…it included Champagne Heidsieck & C° Monopole , Paddock Farm organic sausages and bacon, Bensons apple juice, Godsell’s Single Gloucester cheese, Cacklebean free-range eggs, cereal, Cotswold Gold rapeseed Oil, Country Markets preserves, fresh bread, Holmleigh Dairy butter and milk.
Yet perhaps the best surprise of all was this deliciously moist lemon drizzle cake! It’s made by local baker Victoria Wills, the owner of the Chipping Norton Tea Set.
Facilities at Bruern Cottages
Where do I start? From a gorgeous heated indoor pool with a sizeable outdoor terrace and sun loungers, to a fully equipped gym, the leisure facilities are fantastic. There’s also a spa room adjacent to the pool where treatments can be booked in advance. Next to our cottage, we discovered a large games room with a snooker table, board games, tourist information brochures, film DVDs, a table tennis table, piano and table football.
There’s also a huge collection of adult and children’s bikes and helmets that guests can borrow for free as well as lots of facilities for younger kids. With a children’s playroom, toy bikes and separate play house, it’s an enclosed space where they can run around safely whilst the grown-ups relax. Some of the larger cottages even have their own croquet lawns and football pitches!
Bruern is well known for its gardens and whilst it was a bit rainy when we visited, it was still a pleasure to stroll among the old walled garden. We’ll just have to return when the wisteria is out in force.
Dotted around the grounds you’ll find apple trees, vines and a stream as well as more flowers in the cutting garden, where the flowers that decorate the cottages are grown.
After a dip in the pool, we headed out to one of the best Cotswold inns, The Hare at Milton-under-Wychwood. The famous Wild Rabbit pub at Kingham is also close by and we’d suggest a reservation as it gets very busy. Like the Wild Rabbit, The Hare is a favourite of Giles Coren and we can certainly see why. The decor is stunning, with lots of hare pictures adorning the walls. They were actually donated by the villagers, happy to see their pub that had been closed for years getting a new lease of life. The food is exceptional, with a sea bass stuffed with goats’ cheese and sweet potato being a stand out dish.
Of course, if you prefer to stay in your cottage then the friendly concierge at Bruern can arrange a private chef to come and cook dinner for groups between 2-20 people. They can also arrange a taxi to and from any local restaurant such as Soho Farmhouse, a 20 minute drive away. We enjoyed tea and cake in our front patio garden and were also keen to use the barbecue one evening, so despite the drizzly weather Paul rustled us up a steak from Daylesford Organic Farm Shop.
Daylesford Organic Farm
A mere five minute drive from Bruern Cottages, Daylesford Organic Farm Shop is a lovely place. There’s a butcher, baker, grocer, dairy section and a fantastic new flower shop as well as a huge selection of garden items and clothing. We picked up some gorgeous blue and white serving plates as well as organic meat for our evening meal.
The fruit and vegetables are picked from Daylesford’s market garden, then sold in the shop and served in their award-winning restaurants. We tucked into griddled flat-iron chicken and pizza washed down with fresh juices before heading back to Bruern.
Other Things to Do in the Cotswolds
There are many other interesting things to do near Bruern, including the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Bourton-on-the-Water with its Model Village, Cotswold Motor Museum and Toy Collection as well as the Dragonfly Maze. Bicester Village isn’t far away if you fancy some designer outlet shopping, or there are many good Cotswold walks around the property.
Final Thoughts on Bruern Cottages
These luxury cottages are such a haven that you won’t want to leave. When considering where to stay in the Cotswolds, the flexibility of Bruern Cottages is a real draw, as the 12 cottages can sleep from 2-14. They’re also the only luxury Cotswold holiday cottages that welcome guests like a hotel, from one night to up to 8 weeks. It’s very safe for children as most of the cottage gardens are enclosed and far from the road, and great for multi-generational get-togethers or for groups of friends. No wonder over 80 per cent of guests are returning visitors!
Have you ever visited the Cotswolds?