Our recent trip to the Cotswolds was the perfect start to our UK travel challenge. We spontaneously decided to get away for the weekend mid-week and booked a hotel on Friday for our weekend adventure. It was extremely spur of the moment and involved less planning than any trip we have taken before! We based ourselves in Broadway at The Fish Hotel and used the car to make our way around the Cotswolds.
We drove through as many villages as we could and stopped in a couple for some shopping, walking, and pub hopping. The Cotswolds is an extremely picturesque and romantic place, and almost everything was dog friendly. We are already looking forward to our next Cotswold weekend adventure. Maybe the next will be focused around beer and wine tasting!
Giorgio loves a good nap on the floor of a pub!
On Sunday, we kicked off our mini Cotswolds road trip with a visit to Broadway. We arrived for check in four hours early, so had to kill time, and it was the closest town. It was pouring rain, but that did not keep us from discovering the charming little town that is Broadway.
We were on a mission to get a towel for Giorgio (so we could put him in the car to drive back to the hotel) so we wandered in and out of the shops on the high street. After finding a towel (and fancy doggy shampoo!) at Cotswold Trading, we settled into the pub for lunch and a drink. The Horse and Hound is a lovely local pub; I thoroughly enjoyed my pizza as we both tried some local beer. After some more shopping, including a major Wellies purchase, we chose to kill the remainder of our time at another pub – the fancier pub/hotel The Swan.
Broadway was our favourite of the towns we visited because it had the Cotswolds charm without being too touristy. They also had a lovely range of shops – from craft beers and wines to chic homewares. We especially loved Landmark, an outdoors shop that sells clothing and accessories from Barbour and other reliable brands.
After checking out of the hotel on Sunday morning, we made a stop at Broadway Tower before continuing our journey. It was a sunny but crisp morning, but we were dressed for the weather and ready to spend a day outside. The tower is a cute little folly built for Lady Coventry. She pretty much wanted to see if a beacon lit from the tower could be seen from her house, so had the tower built to find out. It’s a cute story but also so funny because it would be viewed as absolutely ridiculous if someone did something like that today!
The grounds are dog friendly and there is a charming cafe on the premises. We did not pay to go in the tower since we had Giorgio, but there is the option, as well as the option to explore a nuclear bunker on the site. An adult ticket for both is £8.
After Broadway Tower, we went a bit out of the way to explore Shakespeare’s hometown. Our detour to Stratford-upon-Avon was really the only disappointment of the entire weekend trip. We did not know what to expect going into it, but definitely thought it would look more like the little villages in the Cotswolds. In reality, it’s quite a modern place.
We parked up and had a wander to the water, where there was some sort of festival going on. It was extremely crowded, but the heat of the sun was starting to hit us and we were perfectly happy. We took a bit of a walk to see what the town had to offer (tons of swans, the theatre, boat tours) and finally decided to park ourselves at the pub. The Dirty Duck (also known as the Black Swan) is a cute pub with a cute story behind it. The original name is The Black Swan; however, American soldiers living in the area during the second World War did not believe in the existence of black swans. They started calling the pub The Dirty Duck instead and the name stuck! Leave it to the Americans to decide how things are meant to be (haha).
Although touristy, this may just be the cutest little town ever! It is the Venice of the Cotswolds, with a little river running through the center and adorable historic buildings lining it on either side. Bourton-on-the-Water was significantly different from Broadway because the shops and restaurants had a more touristy feel. All of the shops were selling souvenirs, as opposed to the decor and chic knick knacks that we found in Broadway. We wandered up and down the canal, popped into a little sweet shop and bought fudge, and sat outside for a quick drink at the pub before continuing our journey towards home.
Bourton-on-the-Water is definitely a nice place for a day trip and I would love to see it in the winter when the crowds of tourists are not there. However, I do not think it is the best place to base yourself in the Cotswolds – Broadway and Burford (another town we drove through) have a more authentic feel.
We left Bourton-on-the-Water and sped to Daylesford, trying to arrive on time. Daylesford is an organic farm in Gloucestershire with a farm shop, restaurant, spa, and more. Our friend Lucy recommend we make a visit when we told her we were heading to the Cotswolds. We were not disappointed! We arrived at Daylesford about 10 minutes before the restaurant stopped taking orders, and they were still very happy to serve us.
After we ordered, Sean waited at the table while I ran into the farm shop. I was in heaven – they had everything from pastas and sauces to fruit and vegetables to organic alcohol. I walked away with some fresh apple and elderflower juice, organic beers, pesto, garlic and herb rub, and honey.
Sean and I each had pizza to eat and it was delicious. Giorgio sat happily in the sun while we enjoyed our meal. The service was fantastic and everyone eating at the restaurant seemed to be in a great mood. It was simply a lovely place to be. I can’t wait to return and try out the spa and walk around the property some more!
Before heading back to London, we made a final pitstop at Blenheim Palace. We knew the grounds are dog friendly, so figured it was the perfect walking stop before heading home. Although we were unable to go into the palace with Giorgio, we were able to explore the grounds and look at it from the outside. That’s usually the best part anyway!
It was late in the day so crowds were dying down, the sun was setting, and the palace was beautiful. Giorgio loved prancing around and definitely looked happy to make the palace his new home! He mingled with some sheep, made some new doggy friends, and exhausted himself in preparation for the car ride home.
It was so great to be able to get away without having to leave Giorgio behind. We are definitely loving this whole dog friendly travel thing, as well as the opportunity to discover the UK. I assume we will be seeing much more of the Cotswolds on our future weekend trips!
Check out our review of The Fish Hotel to see where we stayed while exploring the Cotswolds. Sign up for our newsletter to never miss a post!
Around the UK in 80 Weekends
You’ll notice the theme of beer drinking popping up more in this most and others than usual. We recently downloaded Untappd and are both on a mission to try as many beers as possible – we love checking in each different one that we try! What’s the most unique beer you’ve ever tried?
Let us know in the comments below!
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