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The Painswick Hotel
by Sarah Shuckburgh

The Painswick Hotel is a comfortable country house hotel in one of the most picturesque Cotswold villages.

Locals remember a time when this 18th century Palladian rectory was almost derelict, and the vicar lived in a couple of dark, draughty rooms upstairs. Now the house has been completely restored, with a panelled dining room, a sunny
first-floor drawing room, a shady veranda overlooking the garden, and - with logs blazing all winter - the Verey drawing room, named after the last resident vicar. The bar's tiled floor and ornate gilded ceiling evoke its original function as
a private chapel, built by a 19th century vicar for his wealthy Catholic wife - a Miss Perrins, of Lee and Perrins Worcestershire sauce.

Each of the 19 bedrooms is different. One of several with a four-poster bed is Room 10, a striking attic room with bold blue walls and arts and crafts furniture. For a romantic bath, choose Room 1, and recline next to your partner, head to tail in two tubs with views through the window of rolling hills.

You can take over the whole hotel for a wedding or a family reunion, but even as a regular guest, the owners of the hotel, Gareth and Helen Pugh, will make you feel as if you are staying with friends. They have two small sons of their own, and the hotel welcomes children of all ages. Baths come with plastic ducks, there's a toy box in the library and Scrabble in every bedroom. The Pughs provide a baby-listening service, and at Sunday lunch, children are charged £4 plus £1 for each year of their age.

Known as the Queen of the Cotswolds, Painswick is an enchanting village of narrow, winding streets and honey-coloured stone houses. The medieval church is surrounded by 99 clipped yew trees - legend has it that whenever a 100th tree is planted, the devil takes it.

This is the least touristy part of the Cotswolds, with ancient dry stone walls and tangled hedgerows, clusters of rose-covered stone cottages, lush meadows, and sheep grazing peacefully in tiny fields. Take the footpath to Slad, made famous by Laurie Lee's "Cider With Rosie", or follow the Cotswold Way up to Painswick beacon, for views over seven counties. The Southern Cotswolds are wonderful for walking - and you'll hardly meet a soul. Within easy reach by car are Broadway, Bourton on the Water, the Slaughters, Stow on the Wold, and the spa towns of Cheltenham and Bath.

First published by Travel Intelligence Ltd

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