Christmas - The Queensberry Hotel, Bath and Barnsley House, The Cotswolds

December 02, 2014

At the end of 2011, a couple of days after Christmas Ben and I planned a few nights away to Bath and the Cotswolds. It's a lovely time of year to go away, we'd had a few big family filled Christmassy days and to counter that flatness you sometimes get just before New Year when you can't eat anymore turkey sandwiches or watch another film it was good to have something to look forward to. We went to Bath first, at the time it was my first visit there and I loved it. Such a beautiful city with great shopping. We stayed at The Queensberry, a beautiful boutique hotel located just a five minute walk from the centre of Bath and then came the best part, staying at Barnsley House in Cirencester which was so so heavenly. 

Our first night in The Queensberry Hotel was perfect. The hotel is set over four traditional Georgian townhouses on a residential street in Bath, meaning it's a great location to see everything but far enough away from the busloads of tourists. I found it on Mr and Mrs Smith, are you sensing a theme on these travel posts? You can never go wrong with a Smith worthy property.

It's a small hotel with less than thirty rooms and is privately owned, practically the definition of a boutique hotel. We had a lovely stay and our large room had a big hallway, a super comfy bed and a lovely bathroom with White Company toiletries. It was all so nicely styled and quiet. A good place to chill out after a day on your feet exploring Bath.

Bath is such a historic city to wander around, I love the stone buildings and the town centre is a really nice size. It's not too huge so you can explore it properly and it must have almost every shop you can imagine on the streets and in a newer shopping area. 

The hotel and city were decorated for the holidays with lights and trees everywhere.

After checking in, we went out for a Wagamama's lunch and got shopping, the sales were on so I couldn't resist buying nearly a whole tree's worth of decorations from The White Company. I normally hate sales shopping but if you time it right you can get some amazing bargains. 

There are old streets everywhere and the cathedral is a must see. They have a huge Christmas market there which would be nice to go to sometime and I'm hinting at Ben to take me to the Thermae Spa which has a heated pool above the rooftops.

When I'd had enough retail therapy {is that an oxymoron?} we dropped our bags off at the hotel and walked the other way out of the hotel to see the Royal Crescent and Circus made up of some of the finest Georgian architecture in England. It's quite spectacular and much bigger than I imagined. 

Essentially a long curved row of Dolls houses. Imagine living there! Victoria Park is the large open green space in front of the, we had a walk through the park, it was one of those freezing but beautifully crisp sunny afternoons. We tried to take some selfies but nearly got blown away it was so windy. The sun was low and about to set so we went for dinner, strangely I can't remember where. Normally I can remember every meal we have but I honestly can't say where we ate that night, and then crashed into bed tired from all the fresh air and Christmas celebrations in the days prior.

The next morning we woke up to this view across the Bath rooftops, I just love that stone. 

We packed up and started our drive into the Cotswolds, stopping at Alexandra Park on the way to get a panoramic view over Bath. 

We had booked to stay in the Village Pub, Barnsley just outside of Cirencester in The Cotswolds. It's a cosy pub that's owned by Barnsley House and Calcot Manor, two amazing hotels so we'd get a lovely experience without the £300+ a night price tag. The rooms looked cosy but beautifully decorated with tartan throws, a four poster bed and I'd requested the room with the roll top bath {there's a clue that I appreciate a good roll top in the name of this blog}, but we arrived and it was really busy. The staff barely had time to show us our room and then realised they'd overbooked and didn't have the room with the roll-top bath available for our two night stay. The bathroom hadn't been cleaned either, we were quite disappointed it wasn't at all as we were expecting. As it turns out, we were so lucky that we'd had those mishaps as they offered us a stay in Barnsley House instead, something that made me nearly squeal in delight down the phone. It was just a two minute walk down the road and is always featured as one of the best hotel's in the UK in various publications every year. Thank you for overbooking and not cleaning the bathroom, The Village Pub! 

And with that, we took our bags and walked down the road, lined with beautiful Cotswold cottages to Barnsley House, a beautiful 17th century manor house that's been fully modernised in style. A country house like no other! 

Again, you'll find this on the top of Mr & Mrs Smith's list. I had even looked into getting married here after seeing one of Jeff Wood's, our wedding videographer, videos of a beautiful English wedding set in the grounds here. 

We had a little wander around the grounds before it was time to check in to our room for the next couple of nights. It was just a little bit special...

We stayed in Room 1 which was a beautiful suite, but then I think all the rooms at Barnsley House will be beautiful. It had a huge four poster bed, views out over the formal gardens out of the historic windows, all the glossy magazines you could imagine and one of the best bathroom's we've ever experienced...

... complete with two freestanding baths sitting side by side! With a TV at the end. Plus a huge walk in glass shower, a window seat and beautiful fittings.

Whilst we were tempted just to hole up all day there, we were conscious that it was our first visit to The Cotswolds and we'd better go and do some exploring. We were in the middle of miles of fields and countryside so I downloaded the Gloucestershire app which had some circular walking routes on as part of the Cotswold Way. We picked one, put on our wellies and drove about fifteen minutes, through those gorgeous Cotswold stone walled lined lanes, to the starting point of the walk to build up an appetite for dinner that night.

The weather wasn't great but that's part of Winter walks, wrapping up and braving the elements. I can't remember exactly where the walk took us but we had some beautiful views en route. Ben set up the self timer photo of us sitting on the bench above which was cute. I like the cheeky grass sneaking in on the lens.

Miles and miles of farmland and the sun came out when we got to the top of a hill! 

After walking for a couple of hours we were ready for an indulgent afternoon back at the hotel. 

It started to rain but we didn't mind, it was so cosy getting in gowns and looking out over the gardens, watching a film and reading books. Heaven.

We wished we could have moved in. We had a bath, each!, and then went for dinner at The Village Pub by the fire. The food was amazing, I'd recommend it if you're passing through Cirencester.

The next morning, we chose to have breakfast in our room, such a feast that set us up for a day driving around the different Cotswolds towns. 

Just driving between them was a treat, little chocolate box villages with streams and cute cottages.

Burford was a favourite as was Cirencester itself and Stroud had some quirky shops. We stopped at a few different villages and then headed to Cheltenham for more sales shopping and a late lunch. We stopped in Waitrose on the way back to the hotel to pick up some snacks for that evening. We felt like we'd had so much food in the past week it was nice not to have a big meal for once and just get into bed with a film! The next morning it was time to check out and have a quick stop at Bicester Village on the way home {Barnsley House will give you special extra discount vouchers if you're visiting} before New Year's Eve! 

Three nights away can feel like a week if you plan it well, and it was a perfect post Christmas break away. {and before the crazy prices of New Year's Eve kick in at hotels!}. I would recommend both hotels, and The Village Pub whole heartedly. We were really lucky to experience Barnsley House for a fraction of the normal price but I'd definitely go back to both BH and the Village Pub again, I love The Cotswolds - a gorgeous place to visit all year round we've been in the summer as well as on this wintry visit.

R <3 xx

You can find The Queensberry Hotel here
The Village Pub here
And Barnsley House here.
{first and last photo from Barnsley House, all the rest are my own}

{22 days to go! One of the best bits in Elf, I love that film}

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  1. While Bath's other luxury hotels are ultra traditional,The Queensberry – its first owner was the eighth Marquess of Queensberry –is,in spite of its eighteenth century surroundings,altogether modern in look.It has an affable jauntiness: for example,the Old Q Bar is enriched with a Union Jack carpet and British bulldogs on cushions, and has copies of the lodging's own particular fun Queensberry Rules.
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