An hour and a half from London, you'll be struck by a faint scent of geranium, lavender and peppermint - plus something unrecognisably delicious.
Arriving to the Daylesford cottages in Gloucestershire - self-catered apartments in a large farmhouse conversion - the characterful cosiness is the immediate charm, and easily succumbed to as you shrug off the shackles of the city. Thick stone walls dressed with the shovel and sickle of their former lives are spruced up with the creature comforts of modern life, blending past and present with a vision toward a sustainable future (an ethos that runs throughout the estate). Rustic but refined, organic but manicured, ethical but excessive, Daylesford is an oxymoronic escape for organically minded urbanites in need of a breath of fresh air.
Whether travelling solo or in a brood of six (plus the dogs), the cottages cater to all parties. Fresh flowers in the living room, bath salts in the tub and king-sized beds layered in silky linen - there's a refined luxury in every nook, cranny and crevice. Our favourite spot? The semi-private patio with table and chairs, perfect for some pre-dinner reading.
What's for breakfast?
Kitchens come fully equipped with a Nespresso machine and Daylesford's own tea as well as fresh bread, organic eggs and milk. For those less inclined to make use of their kitchen, head to The Trough where breakfast is served until noon. For a grab-and-go affair, stroll over to the next-door farm store and adjoining courtyard where you'll find a food truck selling sandwiches, drop scones and butter-drenched cakes through the day.
How about lunch and dinner?
The Old Spot, an in-house café and restaurant adjoining the marketplace, is the centre point of the estate. The menus, aptly printed in vegetable dye on handmade paper, are seasonal and dynamic - with casual starters like courgette salad with tuna tartare. All the food is made from fresh Daylesford ingredients and is prepared with the same sophisticated earthiness that inspires the cottages. The burgeoning wood-fired pizza oven makes for a warm, casual atmosphere, while a sky-lit interior and white furnishings keep it contemporary.
Is there a bar?
No, although every fridge comes stocked with a rosé and white wine from Daylesford's sister wine estate, Chêteau Léoube. Deep reds and a bottle of copper-distilled organic gin with notes of juniper, angelica, coriander, orris root, lemon and cardamom are also on standby. For a livelier encounter make tracks to the Wild Rabbit pub in town, a local favourite.
Accommodations are stocked with all the essentials for an idyllic country weekend: think Roberts radio, electric Aga and Bamford products from the neighbouring spa. After a day of outdoor pursuits, vegetate by the fireplace, connect your smart television to the WiFi and get stuck into a classic film. For those wanting to remain analogue, board games and books are stacked in the cupboards.
Things you should know
A mere hedge separates your cottage from the bustle of the day visitors. If you're seeking solitude, the "honeysuckle" cottage is a few minutes down the road from the main estate and a much quieter option. Make sure you get a briefing on how to work the Aga and the fireplace before 6PM on a Friday though, as the staff are not available at the weekend.
Within a short walk you can find...
On the grounds, there is a marketplace for fresh produce, kitchen and homewares. Cookery classes are popular and include a tour of the farm. The garden shop runs floristry workshops while the Bamford clothing shop is crammed with cashmere cardigans and trapper jackets. Bamford extends to the spa, which is stocked with the brand's botanic, geranium, jasmine and rose collections. The space itself is bright and light, dotted with driftwood and quartz and options include yoga, meditation, deep-tissue massages and sound-healing workshops.
If you'd like to go a little further afield, a country stroll past weeping willows, animal pastures and church spires is nourishment for the soul.