The Bay Tree Hotel: A Luxurious Stay in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is not only crammed full of charming villages with stunning old buildings, it’s also got an embarrassment of riches when it comes to beautiful accommodation. Choosing a village to stay in is one thing, but then narrowing down a plush hotel for a good night’s sleep is only the next part of the struggle – albeit a very pleasant one.
Luckily, you can’t go far wrong with any hotel from the Cotswolds Inns & Hotels group, who have curated a charming selection of nine beautiful old houses in various locations across the region. (This also neatly solves the problem of choosing a village or town for your stay – with cosy hideaways in Burford, Stroud, Tetbury, Bibury, Cheltenham, Broadway and Moreton-in-Marsh you could easily hop between a couple of hotels and see all that the area has to offer!). With design that melds classic and contemporary, their properties provide everything you’d wish for in a Cotswolds stay: roaring log fires; a well-stocked bar; roll-top baths; and comfy beds you can sink into.
We stayed at the Bay Tree in Burford, tucked away just off the much-photographed high street (above) and easy walking distance from the various restaurants, shops and cafes that line it. Along with the building’s classic Cotswolds frontage and excellent location, one of the main attractions for me was that they permit one-night stays at weekends, unlike many other deluxe hotels – perfect if you’re short on time and just want a quick getaway, or prefer to jump around and try a few different locations. (And staying with the practical, their private off-road car parking comes in very handy in a town where parking is at a premium!). The interior and lobby are hugely impressive – all massive flagstones, flickering candles in glass lanterns and clever use of natural light: the glass-roofed reception area is particularly lovely. This is also very clearly an ancient building, with no need for facades or the imitation antiques that other hotels sometimes draft in to give a ‘traditional’ feel – the stone floors and wooden staircases are worn smooth with use, and the stairs up to our suite on the second floor were authentically steep and narrow! Accessibility is no issue however, with designated parking for those who would like it, as well as ground-floor rooms.
We stayed in ‘Sycamore’, a lovely large suite tucked up in the rafters of the building, with exposed beams and a sizeable bathroom. The furnishing and decor were exactly in keeping with what you’d expect for a Cotswolds country bedroom, and featured carefully selected ornaments, books and furniture – along with a very modern espresso machine.
It’s rare that I rave about hotel beds, and seemingly plump pillows are almost always a let-down, but our bed at the Bay Tree honestly provided possibly the best night’s sleep I have had at a hotel. The bed itself was massive and ridiculously comfortable, with the pillows striking just the right balance between soft and supportive. (Anyone who travels often will know how important this is!). There’s nothing worse than going away and feeling less rested than when you left, so kudos to the Bay Tree for perfecting this.
Sliding into a roll-top bath has also long been on my own personal ‘to-do’ list, and having a long, hot soak after a day of sightseeing is the perfect way to rejuvenate before dinner. The addition of gorgeous Molton Brown bath and shower gels – as well as body and hand creams – rounded the experience off perfectly, as did the thick, fluffy towels.
When you’ve done all the relaxing you can possibly do in your room, head out the back to the gardens tucked away behind the building. Surprisingly large and very peaceful, there are several levels of patio and well-manicured grass on which to soak up the sun. We enjoyed drinks out in the garden in the late afternoon, managing to catch the last rays as the sun went down, but if you’re quicker off the mark than we were have a look at the options for afternoon tea and go all out for some decadent food and relaxation.
For days when the sun is neglecting its duties, the Bay Tree comes into its own with a plethora of cosy nooks and comfy chairs to sink into. The bar area (below) has a stunning old fireplace and a superb range of drinks; check out their specialist gin menu.
Along with the social space in front of the bar, other areas are set out more like intimate sitting rooms. We happened on the snug little space below after the sun had gone down, and relaxed there with papers and coffees for far too long; spots like this really do make you feel at home, and there’s nothing like a crackling fire for that added sense of comfort. Shelves creaking with books provide plenty of reading material, or for anyone requiring more stimulating entertainment, an array of board games are also on hand.
Breakfast is served in the beautifully decorated dining room (below) and provides the perfect end to a luxurious night’s stay. Along with ordering an option from the menu (featuring all the cooked breakfast varieties you would expect, many drawing on fresh local ingredients) guests are able to help themselves to extras from a table groaning with breakfast goodies. From fresh fruit compotes alongside creamy bowlfuls of thick yoghurt to local Cotswolds honey and pastries, there is plenty to fill up on for the day’s exploits.
I was a paying guest at the Bay Tree Hotel and the opinions above are my own. For further information and to make a reservation, please visit the Bay Tree Hotel’s website.