This autumn we’re running a series on hotels and places to stay within striking distance of London – mini-breaks that are do-able for the weekend. September’s pick is the delightful Rectory Hotel in Crudwell. Just on the edge of the Cotswolds, the honey-stone 18th century rectory was expanded into a hotel years ago but has recently been refurbished and we love it.
Arrive to flagstone floors and home-made cordial at reception, before sweeping off into the house proper where there’s an inviting sequence of drawing rooms and sitting rooms with comfy sofas and fireplaces for making yourself at home. Upstairs in the bedrooms light streams in through tall Georgian windows – beds are luxuriously enormous and there are Bramley bubbles for the bath. Pick one of the fifteen small, medium or large bedrooms in the main house, or if you’re a bigger group or a family there’s a 3-bedroom cottage at the top of the garden with its own kitchen and sitting room with log burner.
As you might expect from an old English rectory, the gardens have been loved over many years and continue to be a major draw; there are deep flower beds that are well-tended and a long pond filled with lily-pads, neat lawns and a gate leading directly into the churchyard. There’s even a heated swimming pool (open until October) surrounded by sun-trap loungers so pick a warm weekend and start the day with a dip.
Breakfast is served in the glasshouse and the buffet is generous – Bloody Mary’s and Bucks Fizz is out and ready to pour. In the evening, proper cocktails are waiting in the snug bar and it’s a short step into the restaurant that serves up classics from steak frites to seafood risotto. Unlike places like The Pig, The Rectory is not super foodie – vegetables aren’t grown on-site for example, nor is the menu overly ambitious, but nonetheless everything we were served was delicious.
There are plenty of walks directly from the hotel, and the village pub, The Potting Shed (from the same owners) is just across the road. Time has stood still in nearby Malmesbury, but just further afield there’s Westonbirt Arboretum for walks amongst the spectacular autumn colours and the market town of Tetbury for antiques-hunting. Somehow The Rectory has stayed under-the-radar; we think it offers all the spoiling of a smart hotel but with a surprisingly reasonable price tag. From £130 per night B&B. Dogs are welcome too for £30 per night.
Getting there: The direct train from London Paddington to Kemble takes 1 hour 15 mins. From there it’s a 5-minute taxi. Alternatively, it’s 2.5 hours drive from central London down the M4.