A weekend in Stow-on-the-Wold, the Cotswolds

6 February 2019

The Cotswolds….quintessentially English and an area of outstanding natural beauty yet a mere stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of London.  Easily accessible by road or rail, it is convenient to visit but oh so very different to city life and with it charm, natural beauty and picturesque villages you can’t fail to be impressed.  There is so much to see and do in the Cotswolds, you can’t possibly do it all in one trip so this week we have suggestions for making the most of a weekend break in the pretty Cotswold town of Stow-on-the-Wold.  

Stow-on-the-Wold, an ancient Cotswold Market Town

Stow-on-the-Wold is an ancient Cotswold market town and one of the best known of the smaller Cotswold towns.  Perched around 800 feet above sea level and nestled amongst beautiful rolling hills that stretch as far as the eye can see, it is positioned at the junction of seven major roads, including the Roman Fosse Way.  Originally famous for its huge annual sheep fair where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at a time, it is now better known for its elegant town houses, arts and antique shops and as a centre for walking the Cotswold’s countryside.

Aside from being a great base from which to explore the whole of the Cotwolds, Stow-on-the-Wold has more than enough in itself to keep you busy for the weekend and whether you are after a romantic weekend away for two, an outdoorsy exploring weekend with the dog or a fun filled family weekend away, Stow-on-the-Wold has got you covered.

Inn Places top recommendations for where to stay in Stow-on-the-Wold:

The Porch House – Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1BN

The striking, stone-built Porch House in the heart of Stow-on-the-Wold is reputedly England’s oldest inn, dating back to 947AD.  You can feel the history as you walk in – all worn flagstones, wonky walls and ceilings, head-cracking beams, exposed stone, and blazing fires in period fireplaces.  Thirteen rooms of varying sizes and types, from standard and superior to feature rooms and the luxurious suite, ramble across two wonky floors of the building.  Most showcase period features (beams, stone walls, old fireplaces) and all sport a fresh, contemporary feel, neatly kitted out with quality fabrics and furnishings, including very comfortable Feather & Black beds and mattresses, soothing heritage hues, big lamps, and bright cushions and throws add an additional splash of colour and smart tiled bathrooms complete the picture; Room 9 has a tub in the bedroom; Room 1 has a claw-foot in a timbered bathroom. The quirkiest (and smallest) room sits above the porch, while the suite (Room 8) is spread over two levels with a separate living area and a big bathroom with deep tub and walk-in shower.  

The Old Stocks Inn – The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AF

Expect the unexpected at this boldly revamped Cotswold inn on Stow’s square where after a complete renovation, (the result is hugely impressive) you will find a bold, modern and quirky hotel set within the original timbered framework and one that oozes fun, style and panache. Think splashes of bold colour, leather banquettes, painted panelled walls, retro Scandi-style furnishings, trendy hanging light fittings, wooden floors, and a cool contemporary bar.  Sixteen stunning individually decorated rooms ramble across three floors of the 17th century building, big super comfy beds topped with quality linen and down, and a host of detail touches, from Penguin books, local magazines and Nespresso machines, to claw-foot baths in the ‘Amazing Great Rooms’. A secret terraced garden and Little Stocks, a super little coffee shop next door, complete the pleasing picture.  Families can expect a big welcome here and the family bunker room is perfect for kids – they have their own space with bunk beds, TV and a games console.  ‘Great Rooms’ have space for an extra bed (£10) and travel cots are available.  There’s a kid’s menu and the Library area has a good range of games (if it’s raining!)

The Sheep on Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AG

Forward-thinking pub group Brakspear pushed open the doors to this uniquely renamed and stylishly different pub with rooms in July 2016.  Their in-house design team set about transforming the dated 17th-century stone building into something vibrant and funky for this traditional Cotswolds town. Step inside and expect to be wowed by the bold colours and fun retro touches that create the quirky, contemporary vibe throughout the smart bar and dining rooms, the new garden area, replete with a bespoke feature fireplace, and the 22 super comfortable and boutique styled bedrooms. You can expect home-from-home comforts to come as standard –with Premium rooms having gifts packs of Temple Spa toiletries to take away. Quality fabrics and furnishings; striking feature wallpapers; soothing heritage hues, big lamps, and colourful cushions and throws complete the picture. Most rooms have shower over baths, while two have hydrobaths to soak in, and one has a private patio garden.

What to do in Stow-on-the-Wold?

Wander around the Market Square

Stow on the Wold has a vast Market Square, testifying to the towns former importance.  At one end stands the ancient cross and at the other the towns Medieval stocks – lively and atmospheric, it is now about the eclectic array of shops, Cotswold townhouses and tearooms.

Visit St. Edward’s Church

Built on the site of an earlier Saxon church, St Edward’s has medieval originals and is famed for its tree-framed doorway and amazing stained glass windows.

Peruse the Cotswold Cricket Museum

Located on Sheep Street, cricket fans will love the Cotswold Cricket Museum which houses a large collection of artefacts from around the world telling the story of the sport’s most successful cricket personalities.

Indulge in the independent shops

With endless shops to peruse, don’t miss:

The Borzoi Bookshop, Stow on the Wold GL54 1BB

This well-established independent bookseller stocks a vast range of books, including many of the classics. Out-of-print books, attractively designed greeting cards and wrapping paper are also available.

The Cotswold Cheese Company, Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold GL54 1BN

A purveyor of an incredible selection of the finest cheeses with a good selection from local producers. They also sell other artisan and local produce such as local breads, biscuits and crackers, chutneys and local potted meats.

The Fosse Gallery, The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold GL54 1AF

Founded in 1980, Fosse Gallery has regularly featured some of the most important contemporary British art, presenting work by artists of international standing and is often described as one of the most important art galleries in the UK.

Stow Town Coffee, Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AA

Stow Town Coffee is the smallest commercial coffee roastery in the UK where you can also enjoy a top notch espresso either to take away or to drink in their little upstairs coffee lounge.

Head a little further afield to…

Chastleton House, GL56 0SU– a short drive from Stow, Chastleton House is a fine Jacobean mansion with a striking south front. The house was built by a local wool merchant in the early 17th century, who purchased the estate from Robert Catesby, one of the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Chastleton House photo courtesy of the National Trust

Sezincote, GL56 9AW– the distinctive dome of Sezincote is reputed to have provided the Prince Regent with the inspiration for Brighton Pavilion. Begun in 1805, the house was built by Sir Charles Cockerell, who made his fortune through the East India Company.

Sezincote House photo courtesy of Sezincote

The Old Mill Museum, Lower Slaughter GL54 2HX– one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds and close to Stow, Lower Slaughter is famous for its Old Mill Museum, detailing the history of this former flour mill, a key industrial landmark in Gloucestershire.

The Old Mill – photo courtesy of the Old Mill Museum

Cotswold Falconry Centre, Batsford Park, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AB– falcons, eagles, vultures and other birds of prey are your companions here as they swoop above you – the flying displays are breathtaking. You can even pose for photographs with an owl on your arm.

Where to eat in Stow-on-the-Wold:

Photo courtesy of Lucy’s Tea Rooms

If you are staying at one of the Inn Places recommended pubs with rooms, you might not have the inclination to eat out but if you are looking for a daytime snack, Stow is famed for its tea rooms and there are many to choose from including HuffkinsLucy’s Tea RoomsThe Hive, and the Cotswold Garden Tea Rooms.  

For a more substantial meal consider: 

The Old Butchers, Park Street, Stow-on-the-Wold GL54 1AQ

Chef Peter Robinson believes in nose to tail cooking and nothing goes to waste at his small, intimate restaurant in an old butcher’s shop. All dishes are lovingly made from scratch with flare and expertise – expect charcuterie, tapas and modern British cooking.

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