Where do you go for the weekend to celebrate your first wedding anniversary? Well for me it needed to be rural and romantic, pretty and picturesque, BUT well served by shops and services. It’s hard to believe when you arrive in the rolling Gloucestershire countryside that you are just two hours away from the hustle and bustle of Central London, but it’s true. Welcome to our weekend in Upper Slaughter, a beautiful village in the heart of the Cotswolds.
I will admit that I am quite picky when it comes to holiday cottages. Some people argue that you go away to explore a place not to fester on the settee but I say, let me fester! For me I look for accommodation that provides a level of luxury that I don’t have in my own home – from something delicious like underfloor heating or fancy boiling water taps and I make no excuses for my high expectations.
It was surprisingly difficult to find somewhere that matched the brief for a weekend in the Cotswolds. You’d think it would be the ideal weekend break location for tired commuters of nearby London but perhaps I left it too late. Then I remembered my brother James and his girlfriend Emily stayed in a fabulous cottage earlier this year so I decided to investigate. I knew Jim and Emily had good taste, but I also know how fussy I am. Thankfully, Yew Tree Barn in Upper Slaughter was the perfect find. Cosy, characterful and comfy the one-bedroom, one massive bathroom, former barn had all the appeal for a couple’s weekend break.
We arrived at Yew Tree around 5pm, being November it was pitch black and we did get a tad lost, in the end it turned out we were standing right outside! The barn was lit, heated and smelt amazing. The attention to detail by owner Sarah is what makes this cottage so special – the Bergamot candle, the local artwork and the great recommendations of local places to visit and eat make this place feel like a home away from home.
Upper Slaughter is located about a 10 minute drive from Stow-on-the-Wold (I’m pretty sure the route our Sat Nav took us, through a narrow road with sheep either side is not the way the locals use!), which is serviced by a medium-sized Tesco. A major plus! We had a cosy evening in watching Children in Need and sipping steaming tea in the sitting room and an early night. The bed is so comfy as are the duvet and pillows, we both zonked out immediately. We actually slept for about 10 hours in the end… oops.
Part of the charm of Yew Tree Barn is the fact you are forced to relax in the bath as there is no standup shower. As anyone that follows me on Instagram will know, I am a strong advocate for the medicinal properties of a bubble bath. The stunning deep rolltop is a real treat especially when paired with two blazing tealights kindly left by Sarah. There’s no getting out of the bath into the icy chill of a cold bathroom here either, there are two (count them) heated towel rails and two dressing gowns provided. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed at 8.30 on a Saturday morning.
It wasn’t easy to prise ourselves away from the warmth of the barn but we did venture out to award-winning (and Insta famous) Daylesford farmshop. I’m always a little nervous when I visit somewhere that’s been hyped up so much as more often than not it doesn’t live up to it’s billing (I’m looking at you Bicester Village) but Daylesford truly is the dreamy utopia of amazing food, gorgeous homeware and a million candles that is snapped so many times on Instagram feeds.
When we returned I gave Mike his anniversary gift, a pair of Vierzon Le Chameau wellies. I was so impressed with my pair I felt it was only fair to let him get in the action. I didn’t expect him to run off down the ford and splash about though…! We had a wet and windy walk to Lower Slaughter, the charming sister village to Upper, complete with a watermill and lots of front door porn. We even uncharacteristically stopped off at The Slaughters Country Inn for a quick drink. It was lovely to sink back into the sofa back at the cottage after braving the November elements.
On Sunday we said goodbye to our home for the weekend, it went by much too fast as is always the way. We stopped off at Bourton-on-the-Water, the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ and bought a delicious gluten-free brownie from the Bakery on the Water and wandered around the quaint streets – we got there early so thankfully the streets were quiet but by the time we returned to the car two massive coach loads of tourists had arrived, phew – lucky escape! We then went to the stunning village of Bibury to see Arlington Row, a row of cottages originally built in 1380, I love how ‘ordinary’ the houses were, though beautiful they had families watching TV and children’s toys, just how homes should be.
We had a wonderful weekend in the Cotswolds and I would love to return… soon! Where should we visit next?
Here are some photos from our trip … Yew Tree Barn is a very popular holiday home so if you fancy staying, be quick!