JB Priestley wrote of Cotswold stone that “it has no colour that can be described. Even when the sun is obscured and the light is cold, these walls are still faintly warm and luminous.” He makes a good point: there’s something about the lambent yellow brickwork that makes the soul smile.
Even the most die-hard urbanite would struggle not to be hooked by its appeal after a stay at one of Bruern’s cottages. This collection of five-star homes is set in the grounds of Lady Astor’s Bruern Abbey, the heart of a tiny hamlet on the outskirts of Chipping Norton.
They are almost impossibly quaint. For starters, the gardens would give Highgrove a run for its money. The interiors are super stylish, too, with no expense spared: think Nina Campbell, Osborne & Little, and The White Company. They nail country-house chic without falling into the chintzy hotel vibe.
For older kids (and kids at heart), there’s a games room with pool, table tennis, table football and an enormous flatscreen hooked up to both PlayStation and Xbox
To ease you into country life there’s a bountiful welcome hamper, which includes plenty of wine and champagne for arrival - and then everything you need for a hungover breakfast: the best butter you’ve ever spread, eggs with yolks as orange as an Essex tan, and bread that’s worthy of a Michelin Star dining room. The rooms are luxurious, some with four-poster beds – if you make it to them, that is; the big comfy sofas and crackling open-log fires can be fairly soporific.
During your stay, you also get to enjoy the site’s leisure facilities including an indoor swimming pool, gym and spa where treatments can be booked in advance.
For parents of young families, there’s a children’s mini-village, with old-school go-carts and a Wendy House. For older kids (and kids at heart), there’s a games room with pool, table tennis, table football and an enormous flatscreen hooked up to both PlayStation and Xbox.
The cottages provide a great base from which to explore the Cotswolds – Daylesford Organic is on your doorstep; just a few minutes’ drive and you’re at The Wild Rabbit pub; keep on going for another 15 minutes and you’ll hit Soho Farmhouse.
The gardens at Bruern Cottages
For something a little different, try the Cogges Farm Museum. Winner of the Oxfordshire Family Attraction of the Year, it’s the embodiment of rural life in Victorian times. It’s about as far from the mean City streets as is physically possible.
Chances are, though, you’ll just want to hole up in your cottage. The 12 properties that make up Bruern vary in size and can sleep from two up to 14 people.
Although it’s self-catering, Bruern can arrange a private chef to cook your dinner – and there’s a 24-hour concierge on hand to help with other requests. Unfortunately, there’s nothing they can do about you having to return to work on Monday.
For more info, see bruern-holiday-cottages.co.uk