the weekend before last i hauled the bf out of london for some enforced relaxation. i confiscated his phone, banned emails and even a mention of anything work-related was forbidden. he needed a break. we set off for the cotswolds on friday evening, leaving the crowds, stress and pollution of london behind.
we arrived at the utterly gorgeous cowley manor quite late, so once we were settled in our room we changed into the big fluffy white robes, raided the minibar and called down for some movies from the dvd library. we tucked ourselves into the decadent king size bed and watched movies with a dinner of chocolate truffles, cashews, and candy floss washed down with red wine.
on saturday we slept in as late as possible before making our way down for breakfast. cowley put on a good spread: eggs benedict, smoked salmon and scramble, fried eggy bread with maple syrup, full fry-up, porridge, omelette, bacon butties and dippy eggs with soldiers are on offer on top of the usual pastry, fruit and cereal selection. yum. we went to town.
we walked off our breakfast with a long stroll around the stunning grounds. the manor provide a rack full of colourful hunters available to guests to traipse around the forest in. manicured lawns give way to leaf-strewn paths, muddy hills and streams popping up at every turn. the colours this time of year are breathtaking: the deep green dotted with bursts of fiery golden leaves as the landscape transforms for the colder months.
the afternoon was spent in the spa. clad in our fluffy robes again, we made full use of the steam room, sauna, and outdoor pool – there are few things i love more than taking a dip in the misty, enveloping warmth of heated water in bitter cold weather. in between treatments we read and snoozed in loungers by the cosy indoor pool. i had a luxurious foot treatment, facial and full body massage with herbal hot compresses – the most wonderful, comforting treatment. i booked my stressed out man in for a ‘cloud 9′ treatment, which involved a blissful combination of massages including aromatherapy, qi, reflexology and acupressure. it seemed to work wonders, as he emerged two hours later in a dreamlike, slightly dopey state.
later we had an early dinner at the hotel restaurant, and afterwards moved, wine glasses in hand, to the sitting room where we spent the rest of the evening playing connect four, monopoly and scrabble. there is an ongoing argument over who actually won scrabble due to some creative license regarding the rules, and the english language, on my opponent’s part.
sunday was another late lie-in, followed by a lazy breakfast over the papers before checking out. we stopped off for a wander around nearby cirencester, a gorgeous old town with an endless park, before making our way back to london in the late afternoon.
the thing i loved most about cowley manor were the details: the current issues of vogue, gq, vanity fair and wallpaper in our room. the gourmet minibar offerings. the full-size bottles of toiletries in the bathroom (how i hate dinky little tubes of shampoo). hunter wellies for guests to use. a huge bath big enough for two. a choice of soundtrack for your spa treatments. so many seemingly tiny details that made our stay so much more enjoyable and relaxing…
the manor itself is stunning – old and grand enough to allow me to indulge my downtown abbey fantasies, with enough modern touches for a comfortable and luxurious time. we stayed in the stable block, which is a ten second walk to the main house and closer to the spa, with a more peaceful atmosphere. i couldn’t recommend it enough for a weekend of fresh air, peace and quiet, and total relaxation. i’d love to head back during the depths of winter for a snowy weekend.