Thursday, 28 September 2017

Exploring local drinks from Cotswolds hotels

Exploring local drinks from Cotswolds hotelsWhat is the Cotswold drink? Believe the celeb loving national press and it's Champagne. To be fair, a lot of Champagne is drunk at Cotswolds hotels, not least during Cheltenham Festival's Gold Cup week.

In reality, beer is the daily drink and the experience of a pint on the terrace or in the garden of one of the Cotswolds hotels or pubs is a deeply pleasant one. Local breweries dot the area - look out for Donnington ales from the north Cotswolds which is surely one of the prettiest breweries in Britain. Hook Norton is a more famous name nationally, a well known Victorian brewery that offers tours and still delivers by horse drawn drays to local pubs.

DEYA is at the other end of the scale, a Cheltenham-based new wave brewery absolutely focused on quality. It's probably in the top 10 breweries in the country. Look out for Steady Rolling Man. If you see it, try it.

Cotswold Brewing Company was set up by a former mass market brewery employee who wanted to inject some quality into things by creating a new Cotswold brand. Their Cotswold lager is a great summer day beer and they have developed a wheat beer, IPA and stout to build the range. Quite easy to find and stocked by quite a few Cotswolds hotels.

Wychwood Brewery makes the popular Hobgoblin Ale from its base in Witney. We also like Stroud Brewery, where Greg Pilley's organic craft beers are made with local barley. 'Organic Beer from Round Here' as they say.

Lift your spirit at Cotswolds hotels

Lift your spirit at Cotswolds hotels Years ago, the only local spirit for Cotswolds hotels to stock was initially a semi mythical Gloucestershire whisky which was actually blended in Scotland for the village of Oldbury. You can still buy it and it is well reviewed.

There's more choice now though, especially with the arrival of the Cotswolds Distillery, the first properly commercial distillery in the Cotswolds. Located in Warwickshire, the business offers a Cotswold Single Malt and a Cotswolds Dry Gin. The gin is a staple in a Cotswolds hotels bar these days.

The whisky uses barley grown and processed in the area. Sherry, bourbon and wine casks are used. So far only test batches have been released and the initial reports are that it's a floral English whisky. Scottish whisky is the most regulated drink in the world and English producers perhaps benefit from the ability to experiment a little more. Certainly it's already clear that the Cotswolds Distillery aim is to produce a whisky that reflects its location in the Cotswolds. The gin already achieves the use of local ingredients such as Cotswold lavender.

The final version whisky should be available from October 2017. It's gin was recently voted best in the world at the World Gin Awards.

Gin fans can now add a Cotswolds Distillery tour to their cotswolds hotels breaks - but do book ahead as they are very popular. Tours take place at 11am and 2pm, daily. There's a walk in tour at 1pm if you're in the area at short notice.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Autumn attractions near Cotswolds hotels and inns

Autumn attractions near Cotswolds hotels and innsFor many, Autumn is the best time to stay at cotswolds hotels and inns. The area has an arboretum at each 'end' and, in between, plenty of wide open spaces with Cotswold Beech trees taking star billing. If you plan a visit to the area from late September onward you should be guaranteed a display of tree colour. And there's always the prospect of a good pub or afternoon tea at one of the many cotswolds hotels and inns at the end of a long walk - meanwhile there's a nip in the air and the crunch of leaves underfoot. Rather romantic actually.

The arboreta referred to are Westonbirt, near Tetbury in the South Cotswolds. This is the 'National' Arboretum and attracts huge crowds for its displays in various russet hues - from copper to Japanese Maple reds. There are over 15,000 trees here, so allow plenty of time to explore woodland paths. There is inevitably an especially large crowd at weekends in October.

Batsford Arboretum, in the north Cotswolds is a little smaller in scale. The garden has oriental associations and there is added photogenic addition of a Japanese style bridge and tea house to add some style to your selfies.

To the east of the area Blenheim Palace, provides another option, with its 'Capability' Brown parkland and fabulous tree and lake setting. This year, they plan various events through the Autumn period - well worth planning your stay at your choice of cotswolds hotels and inns around.

Cotswolds hotels and inns and wide open spaces

Cotswolds hotels and inns and wide open spaces If you're even just mildly adventurous there's no real need to join the crowds at the area's large scale Autumn attractions. There's a walk that the locals love from every Cotswold village - ask at reception desks in Cotswolds hotels and inns around, check at local tourist information centres or bring the subject up in the pub and you'll benefit from local knowledge.

To help we've included a suggested local walk from each of our hotels on this website - see hotel pages for ideas. Painswick, for example has stunning Autumn views across the valley and a walk alongside the local public golf course to Painswick Beacon. The Manor House at Castle Combe also offers a wooded valley walk and Thyme offers a walk that embraces Autumn colour and quaint Cotswold churches. Utter peace is easily available from our Cotswolds hotels and inns.

A particular favourite that is not, perhaps, so well known is the National Trust estate at Sherborne Park in the central Cotswolds, just a small parking charge here and then you can head off to explore the magnificent woodland surrounded village. The estate pops up on the BBC's Springwatch and Autumnwatch programmes and can be reached from most Cotswolds hotels and inns.

Cleeve Common and nearby Cheltenham are good value in Autumn, with the town's famous parks providing a gentle walking option amongst lakes, parks and specimen trees. Cheltenham has an historic theatre too - designed by a famous theatre designer named Frank Matcham, in 1891. In the Winter, a traditional hotel in the Cotswolds is a good match with a another British tradition - pantomime. Pantomime is basically a musical comedy theatre performance for families, drawing on a stock of well known stories such as Aladdin, Puss in Boots and the Babes in the Wood. For the rest of the year there is a programme of theatre, musicals and comedy at the theatre which is called the Everyman.