The hotel If you love the smell of a proper log fire but hate being suffocated by chintz, if your idea of heaven is a spa and private cinema and you are happy to swap the sound of the big, bad city for owls and the odd passing car, then Barnsley House is the place for you. Only 90 minutes from London and situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, it is the perfect weekend bolt hole.
It’s small and intimate with only 18 rooms, all a sophisticated mixture of the contemporary and the traditional, with none of the bland impersonal details you get in big resort-type hotels. The original architectural features have been left untouched, while mod cons such as flat-screen TVs, power showers and huge baths provide all the comfort you could want. The junior suites are situated adjacent to the main house and have the added bonus of being split over two floors, with bathrooms the size of Hyde Park. The hotel has recently been refurbished with lots of attention paid to simple luxuries such as perfect white bed linen, vases of garden flowers and Aromatherapy Associates products wherever you look. So even if you don’t make it to the spa, you’ll still leave feeling pampered and spoilt.
The spa The award-winning spa is a must visit. Located at the bottom of the garden, in a modernist glass structure, it offers a perfect range of treatments from massages to facials, all using Aromatherapy Associates products. With only five treatment rooms, there is the same sense of intimacy and total peace as the hotel, with mooing cows the only audible sound. Their signature Cleanse the Mind massage, a 90-minute treatment using ginger, black pepper and frankincense, is the ultimate de-stress. Following all treatments, visitors are left in the relaxation room, wrapped in a cashmere blanket so that one can adjust to re-entering the real world!
Dining The restaurant overlooking the garden is ideal for a late breakfast or dinner. It’s the only place where you become aware of the other guests - my idea of hotel heaven. The menu is inspired and sourced from the hotel’s vegetable garden and offers a delicious selection of seasonal cooking. There’s also a small bar for an aperitif before dinner, the perfect place to try a Rosemary Verey Martini, a delicious twist on the classic using fresh rosemary from the garden. Rosemary Very is the acclaimed garden designer and previous owner of the house. As a guest, you are free to wander around her world famous garden or simply sit in an armchair on the terrace and admire it, cappuccino in hand.
Details Double rooms start from £275 per night including breakfast.
Barnsley House, Barnsley,
Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5EE.
T: 01285 740000. W: barnsleyhouse.com