A solo break at the Cotswold House hotel & spa

Every year, I try to get away for a short break on my own. It began as a bit of downtime, away from the full-on-ness of managing a busy family, but now my kids are older – and need me less – I don’t want to give it up. I think mothers often grow to feel needed, even when they’re not needed – it’s ingrained in me now, this need to constantly be busy, or what I think of as ‘productive’. This weekend away on my own is a way to give myself permission to be deliberately unproductive – to look after myself. This time, I did it at the Cotswold House hotel and spa in Chipping Camden.

The beautiful pale brick of the Cotswold House hotel and spa

Ad: My stay at the Cotswold House hotel & spa was courtesy of the hotel. All views are my own.

The relaxation kicked in as soon as I got in my car. There’s something about packing a bag for one, lining up your favourite listening material (mine is podcasts, interrupted by the occasional blast of Billy Joel or the Beatles), and driving a distance, knowing there are no deadlines and no-one else’s feelings to consider. Once I made it past the M1 and onto the Cotswold roads lined by fields and yellow stone houses, I was already breathing more deeply.

The gardens of the Cotswold House hotel

The gardens of the Cotswold House hotel are so pretty, with some of the cottage-style accommodation dotted along the path, but I was booked to stay in one of the junior suites. With a sofa and desk, soft, comfortable bed covered in stylish cushions, and a giant bathroom with a deep, deep bath, I could have just stayed in my room reading and snoozing – and I was tempted! But I had a treatment booked at the spa, so as soon as I’d checked in, I headed along the path to the back of the hotel complex to cast off the last vestiges of stress and fully immerse myself in relaxation.

I’d booked the Recharge 30 minute massage (priced at £50 midweek in December 2023), which was a little piece of heaven for my back and neck. After that, I dressed myself in the robe and flip-flops provided and forced myself to slide onto one of the comfortable poolside beds and read one of the magazines provided. I was so determined to be unproductive that I hadn’t even brought the book I needed to finish for my book club!

To be fair, the magazine didn’t get much attention either – I was so relaxed I may have had a short doze – just goes to show how much I needed this (in case I needed any validation). But dinner was reserved for 7pm, and I’d promised myself a swim in my giant bathtub first, so I reluctantly made my way back to the hotel. I wasn’t there long though. I was looking forward to dinner by myself – that I didn’t have to cook! Is there any greater luxury for a mum than eating something she hasn’t made for someone else?

Spiced pear martini at the hotel bar
Crab salad in a ginger and lemongrass bisque

I dined in the Fig restaurant, which I’d totally recommend. You can also eat from the same menu in the more laid back bistro on the square, but I fancied the fine-dining treat of the more formal restaurant, and I wasn’t disappointed. I started with a spiced pear martini, and lingered over the perfumed nectar while I read several chapters of my book. Don’t fear dining alone – no one batted an eyelid, andit was such a treat.

I had two starters, having been unable to make up my mind, and convinced by the lovely maitre d to have both. First up was a salmon salad – gorgeously crisp salmon fillet lying on a mound of crab meat and surrounded by a pool of crab bisque. It was gorgeous. I was expecting my second choice – roast winter vegetables – to be dull by comparison, but I was wrong. It came on a bed of hummus, with a spiced Indian dressing that was unlike anything I’d ever tasted, and quite delicious. I cleaned my plate again.

Roast winter vegetables
Roast venison with beetroot purée and celeriac mash

I followed my double starter luxury with the tenderest venison I’ve ever eaten, with celeriac and beetroot purées. Everything was perfectly seasoned, and once again I left a clean plate. It’s very unlike me to eat everything on my plate but I relished it all and downed it far too fast – the best meal I’ve had in a very long time!

I couldn’t resist another martini, so I floated upstairs and sank happily into this heavenly bed:

Luxurious kingsize bed at Cotswold House hotel

The hotel feels very quiet, and I can honestly say I didn’t hear any of my fellow guests, sleeping like one of those people who doesn’t worry about anything at 3am . Yes, I’m that person, but not on this night.

Breakfast in the morning was included, and I made the most of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs before setting off back into the Cotswolds countryside. Chipping Campden is the perfect place for some pre-Christmas shopping for stocking fillers. That, plus a slow amble somewhere much more relaxed than home was enough to ready me once more for the festive mayhem back home. I think I will always aim for an Autumn solo escape going forward.

Tips for staying at the Cotswold House hotel & spa

  • Cotswold House Hotel & Spa is an award-winning luxury hotel and spa in the heart of Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire. The Grade II listed regency townhouse has 28 bedrooms and suites priced from £140 in Winter to £190 in Summer (prices correct in December 2023).
  • Parking for the Cotswold House hotel and spa is free, and is located to the rear of the hotel, next to the spa. Don’t pay for the parking right outside – just follow the directions to the spa and walk through the gardens to reception at the front of the hotel.
  • Rooms range from a cosy double to a superior double in the main hotel, which is what I had, with a seating area and large en-suite bathroom. If you really want to push the boat out for a special occasion, you could book one of the cottage rooms along the edge of the garden. We stayed in one a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed having a private hot tub in our garden at Christmas.
  • Book the spa in advance – spa entry is timed, and you can choose to add a treatment to extend your time there.
  • Do make time for a wander around Chipping Campden; it’s so English it made me long to live in the countryside. It’s especially pretty at night at Christmas time.

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