With staycations very much on the up again, where better to pay a visit to than the beautiful Cotswolds – quintessentially English; with beautiful villages, gorgeous boutiques and endless stylish country pubs complete with beautiful pub gardens. We recently stayed in the heart of the Cotswolds in an enchanting country inn: The Porch House in Stow-on-the Wold. Located right in the centre of Stow, you are ideally situated to explore the town and its surrounding villages. Extremely accessible at only an hour and a half from London or 2 hours by train, you’ll find yourself in the peaceful, picturesque Cotswolds before you know where you are!
The Porch House has the title of England’s Oldest Inn and is a beautiful building, inside it’s like a higgledy-piggledy rabbit warren of little corridors and different levels; with lots of nooks and crannies, huge fireplaces and exposed beams; you can really feel the age of the building. The parking is very limited, there is a very small car park at the rear that includes spaces for dropping off, we found a space pretty easily on the road outside and it’s free to park here too. There is no separate reception area so you have to check-in at the fairly small bar, this worked ok but of course you may have to wait for someone’s drinks order before you are served! There is a beautiful patio area at the back where you can sit and enjoy a beverage, as well as several tables at the front which provide excellent people watching opportunity!
The Porch House has 13 bedrooms; we were in bedroom 1 which is one of the feature rooms. Even with the sofa bed made up for our two children, the room was very spacious and very comfortable. The décor is classic and stylish with some beautiful antiques but with a modern finish, it fits very nicely with the age of the building but is in no way dated. The gorgeous en-suite bathroom can be reached via a short staircase; very cute! A roll top bath awaits and in the morning the sun streamed through the windows (which are high up and only offer a view of the clouds don’t worry!); a perfect way to start the day. Tea and coffee making facilities were provided as was complimentary water and a freestanding fan. The bed was very comfortable and huge enough to accommodate us all when required! The only slight bugbear was that the gorgeous, thick duvet was a little too thick for August – even in England!
Restaurants & Bars
You are spoilt for choice for lovely pubs and restaurants in Stow and The Porch House is clearly very high on this list. As we stayed on a Sunday their main restaurant was closed at dinner but looked like a beautiful room. We ate in the conservatory area of the bar which was busy throughout the evening, as was the outside seating area, this is certainly a popular spot for a meal. The food was delicious; our starters were Twice Baked Cheddar Soufflé, with Spinach & Wholegrain Mustard and Heritage Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese Salad with Chicory & Pomegranate and both were exceptional. We both opted for the Rosemary & Garlic Chicken Supreme with French Fries, Watercress & Mayonnaise for our main course and weren’t disappointed; the chicken literally melted in your mouth! Desserts of Chocolate Mousse and Sticky Toffee Pudding were again delicious but we had little room left to do them justice. The service was good but not exceptional, they were efficient and polite but didn’t go the extra mile. They were very accommodating to children however and even provided crayons and colouring pages. Breakfast is included and was also served in the conservatory, a small buffet of toast, cereals and fruit was provided and you could order hot food from a menu. As well as the main restaurant and the bar area, there is a snug area which I imagine would be very cosy in the winter and also a private dining room that seats 12.
The Porch House is in the perfect location for a wander around the beautiful market town of Stow-on-the Wold; where independent shops, craft shops, boutiques and antique shops line the streets, in fact it’s hard to find a chain shop in their midst! We also visited the nearby villages of Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter, renowned for being some of the prettiest in the Cotswolds. Upper Slaughter is very small but definitely worth parking up and exploring. Lower Slaughter is a very popular tourist spot and parking was a challenge but you can park in the car park at the Slaughters pub; its garden is beautiful and perfect for a quick drink or bite to eat. We would definitely recommend the Old Mill with its award winning gift and craft shop and adorable café and tea room – sitting outside on stone benches and tables overlooking the river was a real highlight. Neighbouring Bourton-on-the-Water is another must visit during your stay, heaving with tea rooms, cafés, pubs and boutique shops that line the river with its many cute little bridges. The Model Village is worth a trip while you’re there, suitable for all ages it features a miniature replica of the village itself with beautiful gardens, even the trees are miniature! As well as the villages, there’s a wildlife park, a farm park and several stately homes and gardens to visit in the surrounding area.
For a wonderfully English experience, there can be no better than the Cotswolds and The Porch House is the Cotswolds personified; echoing with its history, luxurious throughout and offering simply scrumptious food!
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