The Fish Hotel, Cotswolds, UK

The Fish Hotel, Cotswolds, UK



I’ve
always felt that English
winters
get short shrift. When the mercury drops, our minds
tend to wander towards sunnier
shores
– to parasols and piña coladas, soothing sands and
shimmering jade seas. However, there’s a nostalgia to the classic

British countryside
that unfurls within me as soon as I exit
the confines of the M25 – a perverse longing for sodden woodland
paths and moody, bruising skies that can probably be traced back to
reading too many Shirley Hughes poems as a child. Forget lounging
on a tropical coastline: in January my wildest desires are
to splash through muddy puddles, kick up piles of curling brown
leaves and chase floppy-eared dogs (mine or otherwise, I’m not
fussy) across soggy green fields.

All of which is to say, the unashamedly bucolic The Fish – located in that most
chocolate-box of regions, the Cotswolds – had me pulling on my
wellington boots and plastic mackintosh as fast as I could book the
next train out of London. The hotel is part of a 400-acre
private estate that includes fellow lodgings Dormy House and Foxhill Manor and is something of their
boisterous younger sibling, with a playful sensibility that
unleashed my puddle-jumping inner five-year-old in seconds.

Situated among the requisite rolling hillsides and hedgerows,
this is no stuffy manor house but instead a collection of cosy
farmhouse and stable suites and unconventional tree houses and
huts. The latter are divided into “Hilly Huts” – fairy-light-strewn
wagon-style dwellings with wood burners and hot tubs – and
“Hideaway Huts”, which include a photogenic roll-top bath. There’s
even a made-for-honeymooners version called (I kid you not) “Boaty
McBoatface”, which comes with its own paddle boat, private lake and
private island. The hub of this little countryside community is the
lodge, which contains a lounge, games room, boot room and the
decidedly grown-up seafood restaurant Hook, establishing a daily
routine of brisk walks interspersed with glasses of wine by the
fire. While I imagine the whole set-up is also delightful in the
summer, those eschewing dry Jan could do worse than hotfooting it
to the country and rolling back the clock for a few days of
unbridled roaming and relaxation.

Rooms

Those looking for a more traditional room can book the
Farmhouse, Coach House or Stables – however for the novelty factor
our favourites are definitely the aforementioned huts and
treehouses. We stayed in one of the three treehouses on site – Ivy,
Stumpy and our own Twiggy – which turned out to be a souped-up
version of our childhood playthings. Yes, there’s a swing, board
games and hammocks in the surrounding trees, but there’s also
underfloor heating, a complimentary minibar, Netflix on tap and two
deck-side baths to take the luxe factor up a few notches.

What’s for breakfast?

Start each day virtuously with fresh juices, yoghurt from the
local farm, earl-grey-and-date bread and zingy fruit; or go the
whole hog and hit the eggs benedict bar before walking it all
off.

How about lunch and dinner?

I’d heard that once upon a time the restaurant here was a
less-than inspiring affair, but under the vision of the estate’s
culinary director Martin Bruges the revamped Hook is a laid-back
yet luxurious seafood restaurant that doesn’t disappoint. The
smoked haddock scotch egg, crab risotto and praline and chocolate
soufflé are worthwhile indulgences.

Is there a bar?

Cosy up by the fire with a whisky, wine or water in the main
lodge.

Amenities

A boot room with patterned wellies by the Cambridge Muck Book Co
that you can borrow for the day; a games room with table football
and pool; and afternoon tea for both you and your dog (for £15 your
pooch can enjoy treats from Woof & Brew, The Barking Bakery and
Cotswold Raw).

Things you should know

Do not attempt to walk up the stairway from Hook to your
treehouse at night and in heels. If the preceding three-course meal
hasn’t finished you off, clinging to the banister while trying to
retrieve your shoe just might.

Within a short walk you can find…

There are maps in the boot room outlining off-road routes to the
nearby (and absurdly idyllic) villages of Broadway, Chipping
Campden and Willersey. Take the long route to the former and stop
by Broadway Tower for sweeping views of the valley, before heading
down to the village for a cream tea or pint of bitter.

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