Temple Guiting Manor

nr Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom Book from Book from £850 per night

A trio of stunningly converted Cotswold stone residences (for 6-14), fusing medieval history, contemporary art and total indulgence

Temple Guiting Manor is an extravagant slice of English paradise, a blissful bubble in much more than a covid sense. Tucked in an enchanted Cotswold valley - bleating sheep, mewing buzzards, rolling woodlands and a lazy stream - are a handsome Jacobean Manor House, a neighbouring Barn (each with five bedrooms), a separate three-bedroom Granary, and a pair of rustic chic outhouses (useful add-ons). Linking them all are gorgeous gardens lined with neatly clipped box hedges and espaliered plum trees, and bursting with peonies, roses and hydrangea. There's a graceful ornamental pond for the Manor, a heated swimming pool for the Barn, and an astro tennis court for everyone to share. Just along the lane is a 'Pantry' serving barista-style coffee and organic teas, light lunches, lazy breakfasts and covetable country gifts to take home.

The whole project is the vision of property developer and art aficionado Steven Collins, who initially bought the Manor as his second family home, before adding the outbuildings and filling them all with paintings, sculptures and curios from his travels, not to mention medieval coats of armour, futuristic light installations and gadgets galore (we loved the secret home cinema, the hot tub in a dovecote, and the fabulous 1950s jukebox). The result is a home that feels like a gallery; a self-catering rental with hotel-level concierge services; a National Trust house on helium. So if you can find some friends or family to share it (and the cost) with, then there can be few better places in Britain for an indulgent weekend - or, better still, a week - of celebration.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • Gavin and Caroline run the whole operation seamlessly, with bulging black books for local chefs, yoga and Pilates teachers, masseurs, nannies and more
  • There's tons to do: tennis (with a coach if you want), horse riding, archery, rifles, cooking lessons and glorious countryside walks
  • And if it rains: a film library with Sky and surround sound, Xbox, table tennis, foosball, spa treatments and personal trainers
  • The Pantry is super-handy for lazy breakfasts or snacks, and the hamlet of Temple Guiting has a lovely, sleepy charm
  • You're 15 minutes from five Cotswold gems: Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold, the Slaughters, Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle

Lows

  • As you'd expect, these amazing properties - especially the Manor and the Barn - don't come cheap
  • The Granary is more affordable, but availability is limited as it's sometimes used by Manor/Barn guests, or by the owner's family
  • Bear in mind that the pool is reserved for guests of the Barn, and the ornamental gardens for the Manor
  • Pets are not normally accepted in any of the properties

Best time to go

We think the Cotswolds are at their best from May-September. May for blossoming gardens and bluebell woods; June for long summer days without the crowds; July and August for festivals, village fetes and wild swims; September for mellow colours - again, without the crowds (October too, if you're lucky). Come in winter for festive cosiness, with woodburners and open fires, plus hot tubs (in Manor and Barn). The Barn's heated pool is normally open from late April to late October.

Our top tips

If you're choosing between the Manor or the Barn for your celebration, we think the Barn is better for summer stays with one extended family or group (there's only one sitting room), especially with kids who love splashing in a pool; while the Manor's nook-filled gardens, separate sitting rooms and secret cinema work better for more disparate groups (or multiple families) and off-season stays. If you plan a big festive meal, The Manor has a table for up to 34.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
  • 3 rentals for 6-14
  • 3 bedrooms
  • Self-catering; chefs available
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Cleaning every other day
  • Electric car charger
  • Table football
Room: The Manor

The Manor (sleeps 10-12)

This is the oldest and largest building on the estate, a honey-coloured, Grade-I listed Jacobean manor house with associations to the Knights Templar, after whom the village of Temple Guiting is named. And it still breathes a palpable sense of history, from its huge stone hearths, solid oak doors, timber panelled walls and mullioned windows - all impeccably restored under the guidance of Westminster Abbey Surveyor, Ptolemy Dean.

But it's not remotely gloomy or fusty: contemporary artworks, funky lighting and quirky curios abound, and wherever there's space for a sparkly chandelier, one is hanging. I reckon you could spend a week just enjoying the paintings - some irreverent, others haunting - from the owner's private collection.

The ground floor has no fewer than 4 receptions rooms. There's a panelled dining hall for 10-12, a cosy living room with leather armchairs and a George Smith sofa, and a second drawing room with velvet sofas and a vast fireplace (ready laid for you). In the other wing is a vaulted billiard room which doubles up as a banqueting hall: the table can be covered and extended to seat over 30 guests. This layout makes it a great option for zoned parties with different eating, drinking and dancing areas; Caroline can book you a DJ, of course.

If that's not enough, kids can retreat to a cosy snug with Sky TV, DVDs and Xbox; or head round to the secret cinema room, with its pull-down screen, film library and ice cream fridge - all housed in a groovily lit dovecote and accessed via a hidden, half-height door. How cool is that? And there's a second secret dovecote room - this one's for the grown ups - housing a hot tub. So no shortage of ways to relax.

The smart little kitchen helpfully comes with 3 ovens (2 fan, 1 microwave combi) and all the equipment that a top chef will need, from Kitchenaid and Magimix to Portmeirion tableware. Talking of which, the managers' black book has plenty of local chefs to choose from, as well as maids and wait staff. Or if you are self-catering, don't forget there's always the Pantry up the lane for easy lunches and snacks.

There are 3 first floor bedrooms. First, a cream-coloured king / twin with a super-sleek marble bath and shower room. Then comes a four-poster with open fire, chaise longue and a huge ensuite bath-shower room; the model cars are a legacy of the owner's passion for racing Bentleys. And the Master bedroom - so-called because the owners slept here, though we think all are equally sumptuous - boasts two tiers of mullioned windows, a big chandelier (naturally), and a secret spiral staircase down to the hall in case you need to make a sneaky escape. Game of Cluedo, anyone?

Up at attic level are 3 more bedrooms, all tucked under sloping, bulging eaves and sharing a good-sized bathroom with slipper tub and separate shower. It's perfect for families, especially as 2 of the bedrooms come as a suite (you walk through the low-bedded twin to reach the parental double). Do mind your heads, though!

The Manor comes with exclusive use of the gorgeous ornamental gardens. This clever parterre of blossoming fruit trees, secluded benches and labyrinthine box hedges is centred around a slender 30-metre pond, whose gurgling water features will soothe any remaining stress away. We think it's the unsung hero of the house: hats off to designer Jinny Blom (those royal accolades are deserved!).

The Barn (sleeps 10-16)

The Barn is a clever melding of two ancient (and once crumbling) Cotswold stone barns, now linked by a glazed kitchen-dining corridor, and brightly decorated by Sophie Conran. It centres around a parterre garden patio with a burbling water channel, an outdoor dining 'island', and a hot tub tucked behind a row of young lime trees.

But its trump card is the 12-metre heated swimming pool in a private walled court just opposite, and reserved for guests of the Barn. There are loungers, showers and a small hut for spa treatments. Alongside it is the stone Peacock Shed whose covered side porch serves as a charmingly rustic wedding venue (there's bench seating for 30), while indoors is a double bedroom (soon to be converted into a gym space). Beside this is a second outhouse, the Cow Byre, containing an open-plan living-dining-kitchen area and a double ensuite bedroom, all decorated in a clean creamy palette with patches of exposed masonry and open eaves. You can book this as a secluded add-on to the Barn - for grandparents, or the bridal couple perhaps.

But back to the Barn itself. One wing contains the double height living room, packed - like the Manor - with arresting artworks and portraits, but here set on bright white walls with airy eaves. There are leather sofas and highback chairs, an open fireplace, and a lower-level sitting area with Sky TV and film library. Up on the landing are some of the owner's favourite finds, including an eerily realistic waxwork maid (Rita, to her friends), an ejector seat from a fighter plane, and a working 1950s jukebox which fills the room with feelgood tunes from 7" vinyls. A fun touch.

There are four bedrooms on this side: two up, two down. Upstairs are White (with its curved beam and snowy bedside lamps) and Pink; both have pale-painted eaves and cosy ensuite bathrooms (tub only). Downstairs are African (check out the ivory-handled dresser) and Blue (artsy and Gallic), with claw-footed tub and wet room respectively. Both are low-ceilinged but spacious. Blue has a sofabed, as does Pink. The fifth bedroom, Gold, is on the opposite wing, with a canopied double bed and a walk-in shower room (handy for the less agile).

Linking the two wings is the kitchen-dining space - to call it a corridor is unfair, as it feels bright and airy, with plenty of space for 10-12 to dine in comfort. There's a beautifully styled all-white corian kitchen island, shapely Robert Welch cutlery, plus two ovens and a big American fridge-freezer with ice dispenser. We loved the medieval safe converted into a wine glass cabinet, and the limited-edition holographic portrait of HRH The Queen with closed eyes.

Eating: The Barn
Activity: The Granary

The Granary (sleeps 4-6)

If you like the look of Temple Guiting but can't find 10 friends to share it with, you may be in luck. The Granary is a more modestly sized barn, spread over three levels, with three bedrooms and an open-plan living-dining area - perfect for a family. Outside space here is limited to a cobbled dining patio shaded by holm oaks; you may spot guests from other houses walking by. On the plus side, you have direct access to the shared astro tennis court!

Inside, we love the clean, monochrome décor with its industrial touches: a sharp contrast to the history-steeped Manor. You'll find white-painted brick walls, sleek kitchen units, grey pendant lamps, oak flooring, and a woodburner whose shiny chrome flue continues up through the bedrooms. One of these, it's worth noting, is a very compact double - best for a singleton, or a loved-up couple without too much luggage (though there is natty storage just outside the room, as well as a shower bathroom).

The other two bedrooms are both lovely kingsize- or twin-bedded affairs. Expect desirable Art Deco furnishings, sheepskin rugs, exotic black-and-white prints, white-tiled wet rooms, and the odd typewriter or original Anglepoise lamp to complete the mid-20th-century ambiance. We loved it, and would not hesitate to book a family holiday here if we could get availability!

Kids

This is a wonderful place for an extended- or multi-family gathering. The Manor and Barn both sleep 10+, and would suit 2-3 families travelling together, or a three-generation family. The Granary sleeps 4-6, so is ideal for a single family. Or, of course, you could splash out and take the lot for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of up to 34 people.

Wherever you stay, there's masses to do for all ages - Sky TV, Xbox, tennis (with coach if you want), plus scenic horse riding and wild swimming on your doorstep. But do note that the heated pool is reserved for guests of The Barn only - so, if that's a priority, check its availability and reserve it. Likewise, the secret cinema is for guests of The Manor, as are the landscaped gardens (but each house has its own outdoor space to enjoy).

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Kids Activities on site:

  • Playground
  • Games room
  • Kids DVDs
  • Kids books / toys
  • Tennis lessons on request
  • Heated swimming pool (for The Barn)
  • Cinema room with kids movies, X Box, surround sound (for The Manor)

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Cotswold Farm Park - 7 minute drive

Families Should Know:

The Manor House has steep stairs: better for older kids or babies than toddlers

Distances:

  • Airport: 1hr 15m (Bristol / Birmingham)
  • Hospital: 20 minutes
  • Shops: 1 minute (café/deli); 15 minutes (supermarket)
Kid Friendly: The Barn

Location

Temple Guiting Manor is in the small hamlet of Temple Guiting in the Cotswold Hills, 15 miles east of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

By Car:
It's about 2 hours' drive from central London, and 1 hour 15 mins from Bristol or Birmingham.

By Train:
The nearest stations are Kingham (2 hours' from London Paddington) and Cheltenham Spa (connections to the southwest, Midlands and North). Both stations are 20-30 mins' drive away; taxis can be pre-booked if needed.

By Air:
If coming from abroad, London Heathrow (1 hour 40 mins) is usually your best bet; or try Luton, Birmingham or Bristol.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Bristol 105.0 km BRS
  • London Heathrow Airport 134.0 km LHR

Other:

  • Beach 125.0 km
  • Shops 0.3 km
  • Restaurant 0.3 km

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