Bibury Farm Barns, Cirencester, Cotswolds

Chocolate-box villages, cookie-cutter cottages and bang-average Airbnbs are as common in the Cotswolds as DFLs (down from Londoners) are queuing outside Daylesford. Until Bibury Farm Barns flung open its doors and shook up the UK’s self-catering scene, that is.

As George Phillips' family farm modernised, the disused barns that once housed bulls, hay and wooden carts risked falling into dilapidation. Calling upon local design hero Pippa Paton - whose style mixes the Stockholm-Scandi aesthetic with a splash of Soho Farmhouse and the centre pages of Architectural Digest - together they pulled the derelict 19th-century barns back from the brink, transforming then into five plush, countryside crash pads.

Unlike other self-catering properties in the Cotswolds with paisley-print wallpaper and gimmicky photographs of sheep, Bibury's nos to the farm are subtle. A milk float is filled with fresh flowers; a studded barn door upcycled into a coffee table; sheepskin rugs are draped nonchalantly over dining-room chairs. It's as modern as it is rustic and as homely as it is immaculate. Turning the key to one of Bibury's barns is like scooping up Mayfair and Park Lane in a heated game of Monopoly - you'll feel equally as smug when the DM's come flooding in requesting to know where you're staying. Pat on the back for having such good taste.

In addition to the modern-rustic interiors that'll make you want to take a sledgehammer to your flat-pack furniture at home, Bibury Farm Barns offers a concierge service, pillow menus and from-the-farm breakfast hampers bursting with produce - the eggs were so fresh I could practically hear the hens clucking. Forget home-away-from-home, this is like occupying your own boutique hotel. Except it's sans stuffy staff and, more importantly, sans other guests.

On our stay, we opted for the Cart Shed, which sleeps six, although I would have been happy with any of them - they're all as spectacular as each other and really the decision comes down to how many beds you'll need. If I'd been going the whole hog and hosting the next multigenerational getaway, then I'd have booked out the whole estate to accompany up to 38 guests across the five barns.


No, not rooms. Downstairs in the Cart Shed contains a whole master suite, a dressing room decorated in custard-cream-coloured Cotswold stone, a patio leading out to the walled gardens and a bathroom with a freestanding for-two bathtub and rainforest shower.

The attention to detail is remarkable throughout. Dressing gowns and matching slippers are hung in the wardrobes; a Roberts radio tuned in on the bedside table; the bedding has been custom-made by a local husband-and-wife team using high-grade Egyptian cotton and silk blended especially for Bibury. And, as a tribute to what once stood on the patch of land, photographs of the site pre-Pippa Paton are hung on the walls.

Don't panic if you weren't fast enough to call shotgun; upstairs you'll find two en-suite rooms - one with a bath - the same 40-wink inducing bedsheets, lavender-laced 100 Acres toiletries and views across the gardens and countryside. There's really not a dud room in the whole estate.


We pressed pause on aimlessly scrolling Netflix and made a beeline for the board games stacked up in the corner. Scrabble, Monopoly and a pack of cards to (cheat) your way through "go fish" can be found in every barn - as can kindling, matches and enough chopped wood to last you a week.

Hosting? There's a Sonos sound system for the soundtrack, a dining room that comfortably seats eight plus guests and the largest of the barns, Grain Store (which sleeps 10) comes with a hot tub.

If your stay coincides with the rare bit of British sunshine then you'll want to head to the gardens and fire up the barbecue. It's an Outback, by the way, which pretty much ensures that the sausages won't be burnt - even after you've polished off a bottle of Pimms.

Where should we go for a food shop?

After you've demolished the breakfast hamper - stocked with farm-fresh eggs, bacon, milk, and orange juice - you'll want to head to Upton Smokery for supplies. It's stacked with juicy slabs of venison, straight-out-of-Italy tagliatelle and jars of fresh pesto, so rummaging here is like hitting the jackpot in the Ready Steady Cook Kitchen. Anything you can't find can be hunted down in a neighbouring farm shop and delivered to you on the back of a tractor.

Don't forget to nip into its on-site bottle'o where shelves are lined with local Cotswolds gins, always-a-safe-bet Hendrick's and special brews from the likes of George Clooney, David Beckham and The Rock.

What about if we want to eat out?

Take your pick from the best gastro grub in the Cotswolds. You've got The New Inn practically on your doorstep and two pubs, The Bell Inn and The Stump, competing for the best pizza in the countryside. Italy can keep Cinque Terre, we have the Cotswolds.

Who should we bring?

Friends, family, neighbours, your hairdresser's dogs - Bibury Farm Barns is at best when the fires roaring and the sounds of laughter are richocheting off the old oak beams.

On our visit, I played third wheel to my partner and my mum who bonded over their love of Scrabble and stoking fires - the one in the wood-burning stove, not my own after I lost my seventh game in a row.

Any essentials we need to pack?

Not a single thing. Trust us when we say that Bibury Farm Barns is stocked better than a department store. Open the top cupboards of bedrooms to find a selection of pillows ranging in weight and size, peer in bathroom cabinets to find stashes of 100 Acres toiletries - ideal for filling the freestanding bathtub with - raid the kitchen draws to find NutriBullets, garlic crushers and chef-approved knives and reach into the freezer to be met with ready-filled ice trays. Oh, and there are also instructions on how to make bread in the welcome notes, should you be feeling like Martha Stewart after being inspired by your homely surroundings.

Things you should know

That'll leave you thinking one (or both) of these things: how can we permanently move in or, if that's not financially feasible (alas, it wasn't for us either), how quickly can Pippa Paton start renovating our own home…

Failing both of those options, you'll should press "click & collect" on the whole range of Farrow & Ball greys before your weekend bag has made it past your threshold. These barns are really bloody gorgeous.

Within a short walk, you can find…

A butcher, baker and an old-fashioned sweet shop in the much-loved Bibury town. Plus, some of the Cotswolds' best countryside walks can be seen from your bedroom window. Whack on your wellies and stroll pass landscapes straight out of a Laurie Lee novel. Finish off with a roast at The New Inn - the walk is door-to-door.

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