"You and me baby ain't nothin but mammals, so let's do it like they do on the discovery channel."
Unlike Nineties rock band Bloodhound Gang, I'm talking about hibernation, when the winter months call on our animal instinct to layer up and crawl into a tiny ball. But if you're going to hibernate, why not make a weekend of it and do it in style?
The Wheatsheaf Inn is our cave of choice. Located just two hours outside of London in the quaint market town of Northleach (think 16th-century limestone houses with an ancient church), this smart gastropub and chic countryside inn has all the makings of a perfect hideout: roaring fires, cosy interiors, world-class fare (and it won't cost you an arm and a leg).
Once a coaching inn and stopover on the road to London, The Wheatsheaf was transformed by London couple Sam and Georgie Pearman of the Lucky Onion into a gastropub for the stylish residents (and second-home set) of the Cotswolds. Later turning the former stables into 14 bedrooms, The Wheatsheaf Inn is now a fully-fledged destination in itself. It was even Kate Moss' hotel of choice for her wedding guests. Need we say more?
Cotswolds locals may never know the pleasure of rolling right into bed after a hearty meal at The Wheatsheaf restaurant. Rooms are simple, stylish and not trying too hard to channel 'country' with luxurious Farrow & Ball colours in muted tones, subtle wallpaper and heavenly double beds which sink down just the right amount. For those wanting that bit more, request room one with its grand, freestanding bath - and enjoy with a bottle of prosecco ordered from the bar, of course.
What's for breakfast?
Downstairs in the main dining room is a small continental buffet with muesli, granola, yoghurts, and more. Hungover? Order the full english or the pancakes with crispy bacon from the à la carte menu and help yourself to the Berocca and paracetamol in the large glass jar. No judgment here.
How about lunch and dinner?
Famed for using high-quality ingredients, The Wheatsheaf restaurant is always abuzz with lively locals and friendly visitors settling in for a long lunch or boozy dinner. Halfway between local pub and London restaurant, its two main dining rooms and private room mix large wooden tables, worn armchairs by the fire and padded leather banquettes with varnished floors and painted walls in slate and pistachio. The menu is simple, rustic and locally led. Stand out dishes are the twice-baked cheddar soufflé, Portland pearl oysters and heritage carrot salad followed by the Chateaubriand for two for the main. The meat is thinly sliced and utter melt-in-the-mouth perfection. At Christmas, they offer feasting-style menus for lunch and supper and have a private room that seat up to 18 people.
Is there a bar?
Yes, in the main dining room the bar offers a selection of regional beers, organic cider, a great wine list and some mean cocktails. The bloody Mary is one of the best we've had.
There is a small spa treatment room, a cosy TV room and private dining room. All rooms come with Bramley bath products, free wifi and a flat screen Bang & Olufsen TV.
Things you should know
Some of the rooms facing the garden can get noisy during the summer months and room five is above the kitchen.
Within a short walk you can find…
The sweet market town of Northleach with its cobblestone streets and limestone houses, an antique church and walking paths into the Cotswolds countryside. A short drive will lead you to the luxurious Bamford Spa and Daylesford Farmshop & Café, perfect for a girls day out - morning yoga, spa treatment and a healthy organic lunch.