Travel // Christmas at Barnsley House, Babington House & The Cotswolds, December 18

December 21, 2018

Last weekend, we took off for a couple of, pre-Christmas, nights away in The Cotswolds and it felt so festive! I feel like ever since I've watched The Holiday, there's nowhere else I'd rather visit in December in England for that perfect mix of beautiful chocolate box villages and cottages all dressed for the season along with fresh, country air perfect for long walks and then cosying up. We split our stay across Barnsley House, near Cirencester and then a night at Babington House in Somerset. Made all the more special this year knowing that it's our first 'babymoon'. With some time at the spa at each hotel, it made for such a relaxing escape before the Christmas Chaos begins!

We started in Burford, one of our favourite little villages, set on a hill. It has definitely become more touristy over the years but the medieval old, wonky buildings still take some beating.

And this sweet shop reminded me of something out of Harry Potter!

We picked up a couple of last minute presents before wreath spotting around town.

That honey coloured, cotswold stone. <3

Next was a trip to Burford Garden Centre, a favourite at this time of year particularly. You have to visit! Full of mistletoe and Christmas cheer, we stocked up and then had lunch in their cafe {which almost reminded us of a less organic version of, say, Daylesford, the food was really good but it's definitely more old school canteen like}. 

This garden centre sells pretty much everything you could wish for though home, garden & gift wise. It even has a beautiful toy shop at the side.

A healthy lunch you might be thinking... before we stopped at M&S for a million snacks for the afternoon.

We had an hour or so to kill before check in at Barnsley House so we drove to Broadway, another favourite {and wished we'd have had time to do the Broadway Tower walk, next time!}.

Strong wreath game in these parts.

We just needed a dusting of snow!

We'd stayed at Barnsley House back in 2010 in between Christmas & New Year and it was our first proper luxury British break together so this place has extra special memories for us. In our minds, when then staying at places over the last few years, we've always compared it back to Barnsley House. There's just something, well many things actually, about this place that makes it really special. 

And luckily for us, it has only got better in that time! 

We stayed in a Deluxe Garden Room, with big old windows facing the magnificent gardens - this place is gorgeous and cosy in the winter but in the summer it really comes alive, we actually considered it as a wedding venue!

A huge, comfy bed, high beamed ceilings, a living area and twin rolltop baths. Our room was in the main house but there are some out in the grounds too.

It was such a dark, dull afternoon when we arrived, hence the badly lit photos, sorry!

A true country manor house, but with all the mod-cons you'd expect {there's even a TV facing the bath with skysports much to my husband's delight..} 

And those gorgeous deep window seats.

This is the dreamiest bathroom ever.

As I was here on a review stay, and because I LOVE nothing more than nosing around other hotel rooms during a stay, I asked to take some photos of some of the other rooms here - as they're all so uniquely different which I love about a good boutique hotel.

They were all incredible. And I think all the ones I saw had free-standing bath tubs and all in the main house have been cleverly designed with the old parts of the building.

THIS ROOM <3, which had it's own separate living room.

Out in the grounds, there are some newly refurbished two-storey stable rooms which are more modern, but still incredible. And then there are walled garden suites with their own private courtyards, which are extra special. My parent's booked one of these for their 25th wedding anniversary a few years back.

With their famous gardens, a lot of the inspiration for the hotel decor - especially at Christmas comes from the gardeners. I loved these dried allium heads within the Christmas tree.

We had such an indulgently lazy afternoon, taking a walk over to the spa to use the spa pools.

Side note - thank you for everyone's messages about being careful with spas when pregnant, I checked with the receptionists who said I had to avoid the saunas etc but could use this thermae outdoor pool which was heated to body temperature. And it was heavenly, especially with the steam rising off of it into the cold December air.

It's open until 7 so I kind of wished we'd come back when it was dark now too.

Spot Ben...

With a very brave, quick rush out of the warm pool to get back into our warm dressing gowns, we decided not to get dressed until we had to for dinner so spent a lazy afternoon reading in both the spa relaxation area and back in our room. I LOVE afternoons like that.

As it got closer to dinner time, I sent Ben in search of a menu. Food is a huge part of your stay at Barnsley House, and it's the kind of place where the menu isn't finalised and printed until an hour or so before dinner - always the sign of a good restaurant. 

Does anybody else like to have a preview and plan out what they might have?! Clearly I'm feeling a lot less sick than I did a few weeks back where I wouldn't have even been able to think about going out for dinner!

We got dressed up and headed downstairs for our dinner date in the Potager.

Each place decorated with a sprig of rosemary from the garden.

Dinner was deeee-licious, I had a twice cooked cheese souffle followed by sea bream and a pear tarte tatin and Ben had the best venison he said he's ever tasted. If I was being picky, I'd say it wasn't the most creative of dinners/presentations but it tasted seriously good which is definitely the way round it rather be when eating out. And the service was perfect too, in fact all of the staff really make this place. It has 18 rooms, all of which were booked during our stay, but it feels really intimate and like you're the only guests staying there.

We got back to a Congratulations on your pregnancy card and chocolate turn-down which was lovely.

Before being encouraged to fill in our menus for breakfast in the bed in the morning which was the biggest treat of all. Most places always seem to charge extra for breakfast in bed, or you feel like you'd miss out on the buffet options, but here it's encouraged and you can order anything and everything if you feel like it.

We awoke to a misty, pink tinged sky and a knock at the door for our breakfast delivery.

We literally did go for one of almost everything! Fruit salad, yogurt, yogurt with berry compote {which was my favourite, porridge - Ben had his with clotted cream {!!}, toast, jams, pastries {which we realised we probably didn't actually need and couldn't fit them in by the end} and then a plate of hot food each. Egg and the most perfectly buttered, soldiers for me and a vegetable hash with a poached egg & hollandaise for Ben.

We thought we'd better get out into the countryside to walk some of that huge breakfast off, so asked at reception for a map and set off with one of their suggested trails.

Only getting ever so slightly lost in the fog...

Soon the mist started to clear, and we discovered the most beautiful grounds of an estate with a public footpath running through it, the other side of Barnsley.

Hello blue skies!

It turned into such a beautiful morning.

Reluctantly, we packed up and checked out of Barnsley House after such a gorgeous stay. But didn't feel sad for too long, as it was off to the next adventure... driving down to Babington. 

- my two biggest cravings so far during pregnancy. Cheese and sausage rolls please.

We'd stayed here for the first time back in August {remember this post?}, and before we left, had booked this pre-Christmas stay as we knew we had to return. It's part of the Soho House group so you mainly have to be a member to book, although I think Babington seem to have some availability if you're not one? 

It was stunning when we visited back in the summer, and we had fun on the bikes, but this time, it was the most perfect Christmassy mansion! 

We arrived in time for lunch before our appointments at the spa. {I'd bought Ben a cowshed voucher for our anniversary and hadn't had a chance to use it, I then got pregnant and couldn't use it for the first 12 weeks so we were so happy to book it in for this stay!}

Even the spa had a wreath! It was especially lovely to come and visit this Cowshed rather than, say, our local Farmhouse, as this is the home of the brand Cowshed - quite literally it was created in these converted cowsheds 20 years ago}

We changed into fluffy gowns for the afternoon and each had a massage. 

Mine a maternity version, Cowshed have a whole Maternity range which was such a treat.

And both came out so relaxed that we were almost falling asleep. The best

By this time, it was time for Babington's famous afternoon tea that they serve complimentary every afternoon for members & residents, so we filled up a plate with warm scones, clotted cream and jam along with soft cookies sandwiched together with chocolate ganache before taking them to our room that we'd just checked into.

Obsessed with this building and that entranceway all decorated for Christmas.

We'd booked an attic room this time, and it was so much bigger than we expected it to be - granted, with some bits of restricted head height up in the eaves.

Complete with an Emperor bed despite being up in the attic, and a rolltop with the full range of Cowshed products they're famous for - and always one of our favourite parts, not having to pack any toiletries for a stay at any Soho House.

I never sleep better than I do in a Soho House bed.

We actually {well, I say we, mainly pregnant/lazy me} didn't feel like having to get dressed and sit down through a waited dinner so had a picnic in our room instead! I then had a bath and fell asleep somewhere around 8 I think! So rock and roll. 

Magnificent, Christmassy Babington with a huge tree and roaring fire in every lounge. The bar looked particularly dreamy, alas the no photo rule... 

We realised when exploring that all of the staircases in the main house interlink which was pretty cool.

Another day, another breakfast in bed. This time a little healthier with almond porridge and a House Press. 

We could have stayed there all day but decided to go for an outdoor swim {in December!} which was a lot of fun, and I forgot how much I do actually like swimming - but only really when it's outside and in a heated, non gross pool like this one.

Before having one last Cowshed shower with allll of those products and then for the drive home.

Such a perfect couple of nights away, and the best way to start Christmas off and this season of Babymooning. 

R <3 xx 

{I was a guest of Barnsley House but as always, only ever share places that I truly love and know you will too and all opinions are 100% my own}.

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