Life

Cotswolds hideaway Dormy House offers a blissful taste of Merrie Olde Englande

Fulfilling a long-held travel ambition, Barbara Collins got a taste of Merrie Olde Englande when she holed up at a luxurious country hideaway in the Cotswolds. Suffice to say, it was blissful

Dormy House, a converted 17th century mill house in the Cotswolds in Worcestershire

I'VE always wanted to holiday in the Cotswolds. I've seen so many postcards of honey-coloured cut stone villages and babbling brooks, not to mention gorgeous little shops and pubs, but which village to pick? Bourton on the Water? Chipping Camden? Stow on the Wold? They all have their charms but what drew me to Broadway was Dormy House on the Farncombe Estate.

It's a converted 17th century mill house up the hill about a mile outside of the village. The word boutique was invented for here. You walk in past cosy sitting rooms with roaring log fires to be greeted by staff in uniforms you would happily wear on a day out.

We were staying in a lodge with two bathrooms, a bedroom with a king-size memory foam bed, underfloor heating and a separate sitting room. It was five-star all the way, with a turndown service at night and a pillow mist to help you sleep.

We had a little snooze before heading down to the bar for dinner. There are two places to eat here. The Potting Shed bar does gastro-pub grub very well indeed. We had local craft cider before sharing a bottle of wine over fish and chips. These weren't just any fish and chips. The batter was made with craft beer and the chips were triple cooked in dripping. It was the good stuff. We relaxed on a squishy sofa in front of a huge log fire with a nightcap before ambling back to our lodge close by.

We woke next day to our newspapers of request left in a linen bag at the door. We could have ordered fresh milk to be brought to our rooms for tea or coffee but we decided to go straight to breakfast. It was fit for kings. It is difficult to say no to a cooked breakfast when there are butchers bangers, dry cured bacon, homemade potato cakes with crème fraiche and the like. We needed a walk afterwards and since the weather was so sunny and crisp, we drove down the village and spent a very pleasant few hours wandering around.

There is a main street with shops, cafes and pubs on either side. There were lots of little independent places you wouldn't find anywhere else with the little knick-knacks I love. I bought a signed copy of Simply Nigella in the bookshop and we shared a scrummy sandwich in the Broadway Deli before wandering back.

I am a massive fan of Tudor history so being so close to where Katharine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife ended her days at Sudeley Castle was really exciting. Unfortunately it was closed for the winter, but it looked spectacular from the road. It's near a medieval village where they actually have a ducking stool. That's the thing about this part of the world. It feels like Merrie Olde Englande with its black timber framed buildings and whitewashed walls.

I was booked in for an hour-long Oxygen facial in the spa so we headed back to the Dormy House. Martin was chilling out in front of the fire while I got pampered with Natura Bisse products. Suffice to say it was blissful. Brownie points for the post-treatment sorbet as well as the usual herbal tea. They use the spa candles throughout the hotel. They were so nice I bought one and it's still going strong.

That night we had dinner in the Garden Room. It is more fine-dining but like the rest of the place, it is not at all stuffy. The food was excellent. Stand-out dishes included soused mackerel and local lamb. Again, we found ourselves with a nightcap in front of a roaring fire, but this time we played Scrabble. This is a game you tend not to play these days but it is great fun when you have no distractions. Although there is wi-fi, Dormy House is full of old-school fun like board games and books.

Next day we were leaving and on the way back to the airport, we decided to have lunch in Cheltenham. This is the one place I wouldn't recommend. The main street is quite down at heel and while there are meant to be nice shops, they couldn't compare to the ones we saw before in Broadway village. I would give it a miss.

The thing is Dormy House is one of those places that you could book into and quite happily spend all of your time there. For anyone who is in serious need of recharging their batteries, I can think of few better places. They also do a wide range of outdoor activities such as archery and quad biking. It would be a great shame, however, not to explore at least a little of this picturesque part of the world. A prettier string of villages you will not find anywhere.

FACT FILE

Rates at Dormy House start from £240 per room per night, based on two sharing including breakfast. To book visit www.dormyhouse.co.uk or call 01386 859910

Barbara flew with Aer Lingus from Dublin to Bristol (www.aerlingus.com).

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