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The Cotswolds: Exploring English Nature

Accommodations

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Minster Mill
Location
Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

This quintessentially English inn and adjoining mill seamlessly blend the rural charm of these historic buildings with modern design and luxurious comfort. Though its golden stone exterior and heavy timber beams might lead one to believe this venerable inn has been here for centuries, it's actually a new luxury hotel in one of the Cotswolds' most exquisite villages. On the banks of the River Windrush, Minster Mill is ensconced within 65 acres of gardens, wildflower meadows and woodlands, just steps from the famous Cotswold Way National Trail. Its airy interior is decidedly contemporary, spare in decor and flooded with natural light through generous windows. While all guest rooms feature design-forward details, no two are alike. Each has a distinctive combination of fabrics, lighting and furniture with mid-century modern flair. The restaurant features vaulted ceilings, original oak beams and an inviting fireplace. It's headed by a nationally acclaimed chef who fuses contemporary and traditional British cooking with a local twist, utilizing seasonal ingredients from artisan producers and fresh vegetables from the inn's abundant gardens. In summer, guests may dine outside on the terrace or in the gardens. The Mill Bar, set in a high gallery overlooking the restaurant, offers a casual setting for enjoying fine wines and classic cocktails. Guests who arrive early can enjoy some of the inn's many leisure pastimes: manicured lawns offer space for croquet, badminton and boules, while a mile of private fishing bank courts anglers. Play tennis or table tennis, hire a classic Pashley bicycle to explore country lanes, or rejuvenate in the Garden Spa: along with an indoor heated plunge pool, shed your travel stress in the poolside rock sauna, sensory aroma steam room, ice fountain and tropical rain forest showers.
Whatley Manor
Location
Malmesbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

A genteel English country house with a rich history, Whatley Manor is set on 12 rolling acres near the hamlet of Easton Grey in the southern Cotswolds. Today an award-winning inn and member of the esteemed Relais & Chateaux group, 5-star Whatley Manor was originally a farmhouse on an 18th-century estate. During the First World War, its main hall became a packing station for boxes of galoshes and Red Cross parcels destined for the Front. In 1925 it was purchased and expanded as a hunting estate. When it came up for sale again in 2000, its new owners painstakingly restored it to its former glory, reintroducing it as a luxury hotel in 2003. The manor house has since been listed by Historic England, and its grounds have been transformed into manicured lawns, yew hedges and 26 distinctive garden “rooms,” with many based on original 1920s plans including the Kitchen Garden, Herbaceous Garden, Rose Garden and Loggia Garden. The inn's stone exterior is draped in vines and wisteria, while umbrellas shade tables on the terrace overlooking the gardens.

Resisting a trend toward spare decor and muted palettes, Whatley Manor's interior features rich colors, dark woods, elegant upholstery and eclectic artworks, especially horse paintings and sculptures that reflect the passions of its owner, who is a professional equestrian. Yet the house does not feel at all cloistered, with several spacious sitting rooms including an elegant paneled drawing room, a wide main staircase wrapping to the upper level, and 23 generous guest rooms. While decor may be traditional, technology is up to date, with Bang and Olufsen televisions and iPhone docks in the rooms. Bathrooms have a separate tub and shower, with Molton Brown toiletries. And no Keurig coffeemakers or do-it-yourself tea kettles here: a complimentary tea or coffee tray is delivered to your room. Dining at Whatley Manor is an acclaimed affair; the executive chef presiding over its Michelin-starred restaurant won the coveted Michelin Young Chef Award in 2018.

Whatley Manor's Commitment to Environmental Sustainability
Nat Hab guests will especially appreciate Whatley Manor's impressive leadership in sustainable practices. Electricity is procured from fully renewable sources of solar and wind. A biomass boiler produces provides all heat and hot water for staff accommodations on site, while a water borehole provides irrigation for all 12 acres of grounds. The hotel filters all its water for consumption and bottles it in reusable bottles, reducing the addition of plastic and glass to the waste stream. It has also invested in a water treatment plant to make sure all foul water is treated before it goes back into the environment. Full traceability and sustainability with suppliers is a priority, and the hotel's goal is to source food through relationships with producers within 50 miles wherever possible. Beef comes from the farm next door where the herd’s welfare is the complete focus of the farmer and his family. All fish on the menu is selected from sustainable species and is ethically caught. Gardens on the premises supply the kitchen with seasonal produce. Food waste is composted on site. The property is surrounded by organic farmland, and in keeping, 95% of its growing methods are organic. Part of the gardens are left undisturbed to provide optimum habitat for wildlife, with bat and bird boxes placed to encourage these species to remain. Whatley Manor’s practices and procedures have been awarded a 4 Globe accreditation by Earthcheck, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism. 
Lords of the Manor
Location
Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

Lords of the Manor is a privately owned 17th-century country house hotel located in the unspoiled Cotswold village of Upper Slaughter (the name of which comes from the Old English "slohtre" meaning a slough or muddy place—though today there is no mud in sight, only the peaceful ribbon of the River Eye flowing through the village). The luxury inn—one of the finest in the Cotswolds—surveys a large lawn and 8 acres of elaborate gardens along the river. Its 24 rooms reflect the property's heritage that dates to 1649, when the original manor house was built. It became a rectory in 1808 when the Reverend Francis Edward Witts and family moved in, becoming lords of Upper Slaughter and establishing ownership of the manor by his heirs that would last into the 1980s. Throughout the Second World War, the property was occupied by the Army. In 1972, the manor was converted into a hotel by Francis Witts, who managed it until it was sold in 1985. The Munir family has owned and run it since 1997.

Today, rooms are located in both the Old Rectory and in the converted barn and granary that adjoins the main house. No two rooms are alike in terms of layout; some lie under steeply pitched roofs with timbered eaves, and each is individually furnished and decorated in a manner befitting the inn's historic character. All have flat screen TVs, DVD players, iPod docks and complimentary Wi-Fi, plus Damana toiletries in the well-appointed bathrooms. Tea and fresh coffee-making facilities are provided, along with locally made elderflower presse. The inn has two fine restaurants: the smaller, more formal Atrium is the newest addition. The award-winning Dining Room, richly decorated in tones of gold and silver, offers an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere with views overlooking the hotel’s walled garden, herb garden and ornamental fruit espaliers. It features classic dishes with a creative twist and is noted on the Times of London's "Most Romantic Restaurants in the UK" list. Guests enjoy making the easy 1-mile walk between the villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, which showcases all that is loved most about the area, from perfectly preserved cottages built of honey-colored limestone to small churches, rose gardens and roughly cobbled lanes.



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