The Old Surgery

Gloucestershire, Cotswolds & Chilterns, United Kingdom Book from

Reviewed by Cat Martin
A chic, urban townhouse in the heart of Tetbury - ideal for groups or families to self cater in style (sleeps 4-8)
The historic frontage of this Elizabethan terraced townhouse threatens a predictable interior of chintz, swags and scatter cushions. But to my delight, what you actually get is bright, white designer living, quirky artwork and a refreshing lack of clutter. Ideal for family reunions or a group of friends, this super-stylish 3-storey house - once a 1940s doctor's surgery - has 4 bedrooms and lashings of space for everyone.

The front door opens into a lovely dining room with oak floors, panelled walls, logs piled high and a vast open fireplace. Comfy fireside chairs in the double-height living room invite you to sit back and read, or settle in for a catch up over bottles of wine. And out back there's a pretty terrace, complete with a dining table, fire pit and BBQ, that's perfect for long summer evenings. Should you want to cook, there's a fancy kitchen. Should you want to be cooked for, there's Cordon Bleu chef living next door.

Tetbury itself is gorgeous: an unspoilt market town with one of the last truly independent high streets in the UK, plus many bistros, specialist delis and antique shops to investigate. Lovely country walks are just around the corner and Westonbirt Arboretum and Dyrham Park are close for day trips.

Highs

  • It would also suit families or smaller groups (you don’t need to fill the house to make it cheaper than some B&Bs)
  • We loved the lofty ceilings (lots of natural light) and funky décor (graffiti'd violins, Union Jack pouffes, gilded typewriters)
  • Beautiful courtyard garden - private and peaceful
  • Easy-to-get-to location, and Tetbury's charms quite literally on your doorstep
  • The Wii and well-stocked DVD library will keep everyone occupied on a wet afternoon

Lows

  • There’s a 3-night minimum, but at these rates you could pay this and just stay 2 – and (handily) get use of the house all day on departure day
  • Bedrooms face onto the main road so traffic noise may be an issue, although most windows are double glazed
  • No on-site parking, but there are free spaces nearby
  • No showers, and 3 bedrooms share the toilet on the 2nd floor
  • Beds are only 6ft long, and due to bedsteads feel even shorter; low ceilings in a couple of rooms, but still enough room to stand tall

Best time to go

The Old Surgery is open all year. Local events you might want to plan your visit around include:
- Tetbury Music Festival (early October) at St Mary’s church, just around the corner
- Kemble Air Day (usually in June) for historic aircraft and displays
- The Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford (3rd week in July)
- Badminton Horse Trials (May)
- Woolsack Day (second Bank Holiday in May) - the main event in Tetbury’s calendar. Competitors carrying heavy woolsacks race down and up Gumstool Hill and the town centre is closed off for a street fair and entertainment, from morris dances to marching bands!

Our top tips

  • This is a great option for extended family groups, reunions, hen parties, girls weekends - and also fine for one couple with kids (you want rattle around)
  • Pack walking boots, and a fat wallet if you're an antiques fiend
  • If you won't get here early enough to stock up on scrumptious provisions at a local deli, bring your own OJ and bread for the first morning. Milk will be waiting in the fridge
  • If you're coming in autumn, take a day trip to Westonbirt Arboretum to see the stunning fiery tree displays
  • Great for...

    City Style
    Family
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Townhouse
    • 4
    • Self-catering
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • 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
    • Board Games
    • Wii
    Room:

    Rooms

    There are 4 bedrooms - 2 doubles, 2 twins. All have calming white walls, fresh flowers, linen sheets and woollen blankets. Beds are topped with beautiful antique-style bedsteads (though this makes them seem short in length), and there are heaps of quirky objets throughout: cowskin rugs, battered leather trunks, chairs upholstered in denim. It's all very stylish. There are no cosy curtains, but white roller blinds (black outs) mask the view of the street opposite.

    As you wind your way up the uneven stairs, you're constantly aware of the history of the house. The wooden floors and sparsity of soft furnishings do mean that noise travels, but we loved the authenticity of it all.

    On the first floor, the master bedroom is nice and spacious, with an elegant dressing table and modern ensuite bathroom with a limestone bateau tub and separate shower (rather annoyingly the boiler in here makes a lot of noise). The smaller twin room is also on this floor. The second floor has the triple room (with a very small double and a single; we would not really recommend it for 3), which is adjacent to a plush grey family bathroom with a cast-iron double tub with a hand-held shower. This bathroom is shared between the twin and triple rooms, and it's nice and light; a lovely spot for a soak.

    The top floor houses the second master bedroom; in our opinion, the nicest room of all. There are vast amounts of space, and you get a freestanding bath and antique vanity unit (but no WC; you have to use the one on the second floor). The double bed is propped up on books to accommodate the sag in the floor, and the whitewashing of the beams and furniture gives a pleasing blend of original and modern.

    A few gripes: towels are white and fluffy but rather small; there are a few family photos sprinkled about, which feels rather strange, until you realise that the owner is a renowned photographer and these are her art. Hanging space is limited in some rooms, but the staircase houses extra storage.

    Features include:

    • Barbeque
    • Cd player
    • Central heating
    • Coffee maker
    • Cots Available
    • Dishwasher
    • Dvd player
    • Fan
    • Fireplace
    • Fridge
    • Full kitchen
    • Hob stove
    • Ipod dock
    • Microwave
    • Oven
    • Radio
    • Terrace
    • Toaster
    • Toiletries
    • Tv
    • Washing machine
    • WiFi

    Eating

    The lovely long, panelled kitchen has plenty of space for guests to cook up a storm. Mod cons include a double oven, gas hob, microwave, fridge, freezer and dishwasher - and if you're staying a week, you'll probably find the washing machine useful.

    There are a few basics in place (tea, coffee, milk, fresh herbs, washing up liquid etc), but you'll need to stock up on food when you arrive. Tetbury is teeming with delis, offering local, seasonal food, prime cuts, and mouthwatering delicacies as well as basic necessities. Alternatively, the owners can provide a bespoke Welcome Food Pack if you pre-order, with everything sourced from local independent retailers like Jessie Smith, Quayles, and Duchy Home Farm. If you'd prefer a complete break, the owners can arrange for personal chefs to drop off pre-prepared meals or come in and cook for you. Seating-wise, there's a breakfast bar for 3 in the kitchen, and the dining room seats 10.

    There are some great restaurants on your doorstep. If the weather's good, go for breakfast in Café 53's pretty garden. For evening fare, we had a fab dinner at the Chef's Table; an unstuffy bistro run by Michael Bedford, who previously gained a Michelin star for local restaurant Trouble House, but now provides fine dining at friendly prices. Best of all there is no need to drive, as it’s just around the corner. It also does pre-prepared meals for collection or delivery.

    Features include:

    • Chef on request
    • Coffee maker
    • Fridge
    • Full kitchen
    • Hob stove
    • Microwave
    • Oven
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Shopping service
    • Toaster
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    There's a folder of 'essential local information' in a drawer, but to get you started, here are a few ideas...

    • Stroll down the old-fashioned high street of independent retailers, and browse the numerous antique shops - there are over 30 so it could easily take you all day
    • Gourmets will be in heaven, with the indulgent range of specialist food shops, delis, teashops, and restaurants....
    • ...and they'll also love the cooking classes that can be arranged in-house with a private chef, eg 'Autumn Cookery' or 'Christmas Masterclass' (enquire when booking)
    • Visit St Mary’s Church, which has one of highest spires in Britain and a lovely Georgian interior - it's a regular for BBC broadcasts
    • Drive over to Westonbirt Arboretum and its 600-acre forest made up of 16,000 trees (5 miles away on the A433 towards Bath). It's at its glorious best in autumn, but there are regular events throughout the year: fireworks, charity walks, Enchanted Christmas, the annual festival of the Tree, the Garden Festival, and summer concerts (Keane and Blondie played in 2010)
    • The Cotswold Water Park has 140 lakes and heaps of watersports on offer, including canoeing, kayaking, waterskiing and sailing. There are some fun land-based activities too, such as paintballing, golf and cycling
    • If historic houses are your thing, visit Chavenage House (a historic Elizabethan house with lovely grounds, open May-September), or Dyrham Park (a stunning National Trust property). The biodiverse gardens at Highgrove, home to Prince Charles (open March-October, book in advance), are also well worth a visit
    • Beaufort Polo has a great fixture list (from April to September yearly; you can fish at the Cotswold Water Park or Lechlade & Bushy Leaze Trout Fishery; and the countryside offers fantastic horse riding (enquire when booking)
    • Calcot Manor and Whatley Manor are both close, should you fancy a spa day

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Cooking classes
    • Cycling
    • Fishing
    • Golf
    • Historic houses
    • Horse-riding
    • Kayaking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Sailing
    • Shopping / markets
    • Swimming
    • Well being
    • Windsurfing

    Kids

    Children are welcome and there are 2 cots, 2 highchairs, 2 baby baths, a potty, a stairgate and a baby bathroom step. Older children will love the Wii and family films, and babysitting can be arranged on request. However, the uneven stairs would be precarious for little ones.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Cots Available

    Families Should Know:

    Uneven stairs could trip unsteady toddlers.

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    7/
    Rooms
    8/
    Service
    8/
    Value
    8/
    Overall

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