The Rectory

Crudwell, Wiltshire, United Kingdom Book from £105

Delightful country-house hotel in the Cotswolds: homely and elegant with stylish contemporary touches
We've seen loads of English country-house hotels but so often they seem over-worked, over-chintzed or over-priced. The Rectory's different. Set in a charming walled garden on the edge of the Cotswolds, its 12 rooms have been revamped without losing a homely feel. Upstairs has a more traditional appeal whilst downstairs sees more contemporary flourishes such as the colourful bijou bar where a fire crackles in winter.

There's no fear of any stuffy formality here thanks to young owners Jonathan Barry, ex-Hotel du Vin, and Julian Muggridge, an antiques dealer from Petworth. They've given this 18th-century house a perfect balance. Furnishings are elegant, the welcome's friendly and service is unobtrusive. Walk in from the gravel drive, passing wellies by the door, and sink into a sofa with a glossy mag. Sip champagne on the lawn, then dine on local organic produce in the lovely panelled dining room. You're an hour and a half's drive from London and within easy striking distance of the antiques shops of Tetbury, Cirencester or even Bath.

Highs

  • Pretty Cotswold stone house with eclectic interior decor - a successful mix of old and new that's constantly evolving
  • Large walled garden with croquet lawn and heated outdoor pool in summer
  • Good location - not too far from London, yet far enough to be in the country
  • Comfortable elegant guest rooms with DVD players and iPod docks
  • You can book the whole house for a special occasion

Lows

  • Some minor frays around the edges but it's an old house and at these prices it's hard to complain
  • There's a road that runs just beyond the grounds but we never heard much traffic
  • Weekends in summer get booked up far in advance

Best time to go

Any time of year: in winter for crackling fires; in spring and summer for enjoying the garden at its best and lazing by the pool; in autumn to see the trees changing colours (especially at Westonbirt Arboretum).

Our top tips

For a change of scene, we love The Chef's Table in Tetbury: rustic food and a theatrical open kitchen, by Michael Bedford (formally of the Michelin-starred Trouble House Inn).

Great for...

Family
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Makes the grade
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 12
  • 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
Room:

Rooms

Named after Cotswold hills, the 12 bedrooms are all different but generally have a bright airy feel and views over the gardens. Decked out in restrained English country house style, they come with homely touches: a small selection of good books, bottles of Frank spring water and occasional antiques. You can expect a large comfy bed with hand sprung mattress beneath you, Egyptian cotton on top. As you'd expect in the older parts of the house some of the floors are a little uneven but this just adds character. You'll also have a flat screen TV, iPod dock and DVD player (with a modest yet well chosen selection of DVDs you can borrow downstairs), but no minibar. Tea and coffee making facilities are available on request.

Bathrooms, (most of which are recently refurbished but on the small side in the cheaper rooms) give you fluffy bathrobes, hairdryer and unusual bath products by Arran Aromatics.

The best rooms are the three Deluxe Rooms: located on the first floor they are the largest with space to spread out as well as writing tables and armchairs. Our favourite is Leckhampton, with big windows overlooking the gorgeous garden, a white bergere bed, sofa, stone fireplace and large bathroom with free-standing tub. If you want a four-poster bed, go for Sudeley; its pale green walls and wooden beams make it a restful room. Otherwise, Pennsylvania which is the only Deluxe room that can be made into a twin.

Standard and Superior rooms are smaller (although we'd be happy staying in any of them) and priced accordingly. Most are on the second floor, tucked into the attic. Standard rooms Nympsfield and Cam Peak can be taken together to form a family room. Nympsfield's kingsize bed can also be made into twins. Nibley is the cosiest but smallest, its queen size bed probably best for single use. Laverton is more traditional with floral curtains and orchid watercolours.

Superior rooms Crickley, Cleeve, Randwick and Belas Knap can all be made up as either doubles or twins.

Features include:

  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Tv
  • Cd player
  • Radio
  • Ipod dock
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Hairdryer

Eating

Lime flagstones lead you down the hallway past the snug bar to the wood panelled restaurant at the back of the house. The room is light, big windows overlook the garden and oak tables are well spaced giving you room to breathe. Expect crisp white napkins, pretty green water glasses and a giant teacup filled with flowers. In summer months you can eat outside beside the ancient baptism pool, now a fishpond surrounded by lavender and roses. The adjacent conservatory is large enough for private parties of up to 25 people.

The cooking is modern British - pleasing, unfussy and reasonably priced (thankfully, unlike at many other country house hotels, there's no obligatory fixed priced menu for dinner). Being fans of the "Slow Food Movement" their ethos is to support local producers. Meat comes from Jesse Smiths of Cirencester (none better), game from the Bathurst estate, eggs from Tetbury farms and the cheese from the Fine Cheese Company of Bath. Even the staff are local. Typical starters include terrine of Wiltshire ham hock with homemade pickles, or seafood risotto with deep fried squid. For mains we chose calves liver and a succulent rib-eye steak, both were perfectly cooked. For dessert, the chocolate and raspberry tart with unusual fennel ice cream hit the spot more than the brownie with vanilla ice cream. Room service is also available - choose from the lunch or dinner menu.

Breakfast (included in the rate) continues the local theme using wherever possible organic fare. Help yourself to fresh fruit, croissants and homemade banana bread. Then select something cooked - perhaps Coln Valley smoked salmon and scrambled eggs or Gloucestershire Old Spot sausages, Wiltshire smoked back bacon and black pudding.

The restaurant is open for dinner 7 days a week but if you want to eat out, there are plenty of good options nearby. Across the road, the owners have recently renovated the Potting Shed pub which serves hearty British fare and Butcombe Bitter. Further afield, we like swanky Whatley Manor, the other side of Malmesbury. For something simpler, try the Vine Tree village pub at Norton. The Rectory has also opened its own deli and cafe in nearby Cirencester.

Features include:

  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Bar
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Children meals
  • Food and wine
  • Coffee tea making
  • Walk to restaurants
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Kick off your shoes, curl up on a sofa and lose yourself in magazine heaven or hole up in your room with a good film (all rooms have DVD players and there's a decent selection of DVDs available to borrow)

  • Frolic around the garden, play a game of croquet or boules on the lawn. Splash around in the outdoor heated pool (mid May to October)

  • Pull on some gumboots and go for a walk in the country - there are too many to mention but Westonbirt's arboretum (15 mins drive away) is one of the finest in the world: beautiful in every season but especially autumn

  • You are on the edge of the Cotswolds. Visit nearby Tetbury and find some of England's finest antique shops (Julian can advise), or Cirencester (10 minute drive) a charming market town with some quirky little boutiques and the delis.

  • Spend the day in Bath (40 minute drive) - World Heritage Spa city supreme with Roman Baths, sweeping Georgian crescents as well as decent shops and eateries

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Food and wine
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Shopping

Kids

Children are welcome and the hotel can provide cots, high chairs and extra beds (in 3 rooms). Two of the standard rooms on the second floor, Nympsfield and Cam Peak, can be taken together to make a family room. Otherwise, if placing a cot or extra bed in the same room, we recommend Leckhampton, the largest deluxe room.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby listening:

Baby listening/monitors available on request

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

A kids menu (homemade salmon fishcakes and chicken goujons, sausages, pasta etc) using mainly organic ingredients, is also available.

Kids Activities on site:


  • The walled garden is great for children to play in with several large lawns
  • Croquet, boules and a giant spherical wooden pod to explore in the front garden
  • The outdoor pool is heated during the summer months
  • Indoor communal space is rather limited for active children but there are DVDs and board games for them to enjoy

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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