Sleepover: Bruern Stable Cottages, Chipping Norton
Thursday 11 October 2001
Where are they?
Just outside Burford, in the Evenlode Valley, perfect for touring the Cotswolds.
What are they like?
Ten exquisitely decorated cottages set in beautiful wildflower gardens. The owner, Judy Astor, has converted Bruern Abbey's Victorian stableyard with the expert help of her sister, the interior designer Jocasta Innes. This is sumptuous stuff. Fabrics and wallpapers have been mixed and matched from upmarket sources. Kitchens and bathrooms have every mod con. And each cottage has been tastefully cluttered with antiques.
What's the USP?
Is it a cottage? Is it a hotel? It's certainly a great place to take the family during the school holidays. This is self-catering country-house style. Sink into a plump sofa by the fire (logs ready chopped), while the children have a whale of a time in the games room or in the delightful gable-fronted playhouse.
You may think you've just walked into the pages of an interiors magazine, but you really will be able to relax without fear of breaking something. Private gardens mean you don't have to meet the neighbours.
A basket of goodies awaits your arrival with essentials such as milk and bread and treats – a bottle of wine for the adults and chocolate cake for the children. Pre-ordered frozen cuisine (see below) is delivered before you arrive and stored or defrosted as you direct.
We stayed in Shipton, a long, low Cotswold stone barn with its own apple orchard. Decorated in pale creams and blues with stone and polished wood floors, and, unlike the country-cottage feel of the other properties, Scandinavia is the inspiration here. At its heart is an open-plan sitting area arranged around a tall ceramic wood-burning stove, a dining room and a Shaker-style kitchen. The master bedroom and one of the twins have elegant four-poster beds and all three have en-suite bathrooms, supplied with Penhaligon toiletries. Cottages vary in size, sleeping from two to eight people (plus cot). October half-term week from £378 to £1,232. Winter three-night rates from £255 to £448. No pets.
Food and drink?
Order frozen gourmet fare from Colin the chef's menu. And we're not talking fish fingers. Cotswold pork casserole, curried roasted parsnips, chocolate roulade ...
Well-heeled, judging by the prices. The guest book reveals many guests return.
Things to do?
As well as the play areas, there's a tennis court and open-air pool. Go walking – the Cotswold Way runs through Bruern. Stow-on-the-Wold, the Slaughters and Bourton-on-the-Water are nearby. Cheltenham hosts its literature festival this month.
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