Is there anywhere that feels quite as quintessentially English as the Cotswolds?
With its patchwork of thatched cottages, charming churches and sleepy villages, this is famously one of the nation’s most picturesque corners – although it can feel anything but tranquil during the height of summer.
The Cotswolds is also home to some of England’s fanciest (and priciest) hotels, but staying here doesn’t have to be a budget-buster – there’s a huge selection of Airbnbs to choose from these days. We’ve selected some of our favourites, including a converted water tower, a medieval dovecote and a pick-and-mix of postcard-worthy cottages.
It doesn’t get more romantic than this: an amber-stoned, cylindrical, Grade II-listed dovecote in the middle of Bibury, among the prettiest of the classic Cotswolds villages. On the ground floor there’s an attractive bathroom, with copper tub and a glass shower; from here, a spiral staircase leads up to the charming whitewashed bedroom, where the original alcoves still stud the walls, and the ceiling climbs all the way to the dovecote’s beamed, conical top. Admittedly, the space is small, and there’s no kitchen (just a fridge and kettle), but the quirk quota is high – and there’s a delightful garden outside.
From £175 per night, two night minimum
The thatched Cotswolds cottage par excellence. Built in 1624, it exudes charm from every eave, beam and cranny: there’s a majestic stone fireplace, a pretty country kitchen, and a romantic beamed bedroom, accessed via a centuries-old stone staircase. Bold splashes of colour and interesting design choices make it feel surprisingly modern inside, but from the outside it has all the Cotswolds charisma you could ask for. There’s even a little garden and outdoor seating area, with views of the orchard nearby. Cirencester is just five miles away.
From £145 per night, four night minimum
Neighbourhood: Chipping Norton
This super-stylish, loft-style apartment is squeezed into one corner of an old chapel in Chipping Norton. It could so easily be gloomy, but it’s anything but: light floods in through an original rose window and skylights in the bedroom, while bench seats are set beneath tall, arched glass panes in the living space-come-kitchen. It’s beautifully appointed, with modern furniture, an elegant kitchen and a lovely ensuite bathroom. Blessed indeed.
From £94 per night, two night minimum
Set on the Deer Park Hall Estate, a working vineyard near Eckington, this wooden lodge makes for a vintage retreat. It’s a blend of rustic and modern – chunky clapboard cladding meets rococo furniture, chrome fixtures and a vaulted bedroom with gleaming white ensuite bath. But it’s the location that sells it: you’re surrounded by vines, and you can book a private tour of the winery or a deer-spotting safari (owner Caron is a talented photographer).
From £260 per night, three night minimum
Neighbourhood: Coln Rogers
You’re at the bottom of a classic Cotswolds garden here, among trimmed box hedges and clipped cones of yew. The 14th century cottage has storybook charm: part-thatched, part-tiled, with low beams, floral-print furniture and a flagstone floor. The accommodation is in the tiled end (the owner has their home office in the other). It’s a compact space: anyone over 6ft will have to duck their heads downstairs, while upstairs the bedroom is squeezed in under A-frame beams. Still, it’s hard to quibble with the setting.
From £170 per night, two night minimum
Neighbourhood: Somerford Keynes
This utterly extraordinary place on the Cotswold Sculpture Park looks like something out of a Terry Gilliam film. Clad in riveted, rust-orange metal and encircled by an external staircase, it’s a former water storage tower, with a tiny circular kitchen on the ground floor, a simple bedroom on the first, and a brilliant rooftop terrace from where you can sit and look out across the park. It’s not very private, though: the shower room and loos are a stroll away, and shared with other guests, and there are no cooking facilities save for an outdoor kitchen shelter with a microwave. Still, it’ll make for some cracking holiday snaps.
From £91 per night, two night minimum
Owner Marco has managed to pack an awful lot into this pint-sized cottage behind the original Beaufort House. It’s full of intriguing little details: retro crockery, a Belfast sink and a vintage stove in the kitchen; a little larder and galley-style dining space; vintage ship’s lanterns, exposed stone walls and a brass showerhead in the bathroom; a smart glass staircase that ascends to the tiny (and we do mean tiny) loft bedroom. There’s barely enough space to swing a mouse, let alone a cat – but it’s in a fine spot, right in the middle of the old market town of Stow-on-the-Wold.
From £140 per night, two night minimum
What a space: a historic hayloft that’s been stripped back, updated and opened up, revealing the old stone-and-wood bones of the building. The main living area is downstairs, where the vintage leather sofas, metal shelving and funky lamps conjure the vibe of a trendy loft apartment. A glass-walled mezzanine bedroom spans the space (complete with a rather peculiar circular bed in crushed blue velvet), with a second bedroom and bathroom downstairs. The lack of any kitchen facilities is a bit of a drag (a Nespresso machine, kettle and mini fridge is all you get), but thankfully Nailsworth has some good pubs, restaurants and cafes to choose from.
From £120 per night, two night minimum
As its name suggests, this was once a bakery (the original cast-iron bread oven is still in situ). Country-chic is the modus operandi: wrought-iron beds and pretty prints in the two bedrooms, a peacock-blue clawfoot tub in the bathroom, lime-washed furniture, hefty rafters and flagstone floors throughout. It’s attached to another cottage, but French doors open onto a private little patio area. The cottage is in Stonesfield on the far east side of the Cotswolds; Blenheim Palace is just five miles away.
From £160 per night, three night minimum
No prizes for guessing what purpose this building once served for postcard-perfect Broadway. Overlooking a pretty village green, it’s been converted into a luxurious apartment (there’s still a shop on the ground floor). Despite the building’s age, it feels private and spacious: there’s room for two bedrooms, a large kitchen-diner, a swish bathroom and a cosy beamed lounge (there’s even a private garden office, believe it or not). The designated parking space is a boon – and you’re just a stroll away from Broadway Deli and Russell’s, arguably the village’s top restaurant.
From £145 per night, two night minimum
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