We vacation fairly regularly by renting. In fact we have rented cottages from the coast of Maine to Hawaii. We rented this cottage from Christmas Even to January 6th. First, as Americans, it was quite exciting to stay in what could only be described as a national treasure, a 400+-year-old stone cottage. Moreover, the owners did an excellent job in well-planned and tasteful improvements that made the cottage function very well. The kitchen and bathrooms were up-to-date and worked as well as any in a modern hotel. In addition, we were impressed with the thoughtful lighting. That alone made the feel of the cottage warm and inviting.
We rented a car from Evesham Self-Drive. They are super people; they picked us up at the Evesham train station and brought us to their office to finish the paperwork. After a few days of practice driving left-sided, we explored the Cotswolds. This cottage is well situation for very easy drives into Broadway, Chipping-Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, and Strafford-upon-Avon. Broadway has a convenient super market (Budgens) where we did most of our shopping for food. They are all just a few minutes away. We liked this cottage better than staying in any of these villages since we were surrounded by sheep meadows and the nights were quiet and peaceful. Since we were there at Christmastime, most of the tourists were British. And, the villages were not as crowded as in summer, we were told.
We had planned on taking the train into London for a day or two. However, while we were there, the train line was doing work on the tracks to London. That added an hour or two to the trip. Besides we had more than enough to keep us busy in the Cotswolds. Let me add that we did not have a bad meal the whole time. I would recommend, The Bell in Willersey (just a mile away from the cottage) as well as the Swan in Broadway, the Front Porch in Stow-on-the-Wold. Encore in Strafford-upon-Avon, and Eight Bells in Chipping Campden—our favorite! When we left we went up to Evesham the day before our train back to London/Heathrow just to make sure we got the early train and had an excellent meal at the Royal Oak.
A couple of things we think help made this a fantastic holiday; we got advance tickets on the Heathrow Express and on the train to Evesham. The Express is a fast express train from the airport to Paddington station in downtown London. From Paddington one can take the subway (tube) or a train as we did. We had e-tickets send to our smart phone. Very easy—plus you can just get on and buy your ticket en route.
We only had one minor problem and it was our own fault. In reading the directions when we got there we assumed we were not allowed to use the huge (I mean huge) fireplace in the living room. After a phone call, we learned that we were only prohibited from using a small Franklin stove in the dining area because it leaked. No problem for us.
If you've ever seen The Holiday and dreamt of living in the world of Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, this is the place for you. My mom and I went to the Cotswolds for a quick retreat last week and we could not have loved any accommodations more. We made the drive (yes, we Americans drove on the other side of the road successfully) to Saintbury and found the key to the cottage just as described. We immediately felt enraptured by Cotswold charm. The cottage is so cozy. The decorations are sweet, the fireplace inviting, and the amenities plenty. This three bedroom (sleeps 6), two bath home is perfect. Be warned, the ceilings are low but I wholeheartedly believe it adds to the charm. When you look out the bedroom windows, you see rolling hills filled with sheep. Saintbury is a great hub to see the Cotswolds if you have a car. It is very close to Broadway and Chipping Campden which have plenty of restaurant and shopping options. I cannot say enough good things about this lovely place. WHEN (not if) I return to the Cotswolds, I'll be sure to stay at the Orchard Cottage once again.
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