Like its nearby sister hotel, Calcot Manor, Barnsley House, situated in the Cotswolds village of the same name, gets it absolutely right. It's a smaller, more boutiquey place on the whole, with the feel of an intimate stately home – and house party – with 18 spacious rooms divided between the main house and a converted stable block, and a purpose-built spa building that looks out onto the hotel's fantastic landscaped gardens. There's also a self-catering option, Home Farm Cottage – a three-bedroom home-from-home that comes with a basket of goodies on arrival.
All the hotel rooms have state-of-the-art TVs and docking stations, luxurious toiletries and robes, water and snacks, and pretty much everything else you need to feel at home. You're set for a lazy stay, with lots of comfortable lounges, an honesty-style bar and a couple of quality places to eat – the crisp and light Potager Restaurant or the deliberately cosy Village Pub – and the fabulous gardens, landscaped in the 1950s by revered garden guru Rosemary Verey and superbly maintained. Wander past the kitchen garden (much of the veg for the eateries comes from here) and out to the fields beyond – look out for the roaming chickens.
Barnsley House has a spa, too, housed in a specially designed building in the grounds and fitted with an outdoor hydrotherapy pool, a sauna and various treatment rooms that look out onto the countryside beyond. Sitting there in your fluffy robe and slippers is to enjoy the Cotswolds country escape par excellence, and makes you wish weekends were longer. And if you like this, try their north country cousin, the Lord Crewe Arms, in Northumberland, which we also love.
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