Sticking to New Year’s resolutions was not on the menu for Catherine Hannah during an overnight stay in the Cotswolds…
Imagine most people spent the first weekend of 2012 frantically trying to shed a few pounds and undo the damage done by the over-indulgence of the festive period. I, however, spent it unashamedly indulging a little bit more. With not a lettuce leaf or treadmill in sight, I headed off to The Rectory in the heart of the Cotswolds for some serious R&R.
Just an hour-and-a-half from London and a stone’s throw from Cirencester, Tetbury and a host of other Cotswold gems, The Rectory is the perfect base to explore the surrounding area and escape to the country to unwind. Its award-winning sister, UK pub of the year The Potting Shed with its growing reputation, is a mere stroll across the green.
In spite of all the local attractions, there isn’t really any need to go anywhere. Everything about The Rectory is all geared up for complete relaxation and escapism, from the eclectic décor to the roaring fires. One member of staff explained, “Most people get what we’re trying to achieve here, but one or two just think the furniture doesn’t match.” Indeed it doesn’t; ultra-modern glass and metal sculptures perch on period dressers next to battered comfy armchairs and modern artwork. The overall effect is elegant, warm and stylish, a series of quirky but cosy spaces which invite you to make yourself at home. Traditional comfort, with a modern twist. With an abundance of reading material and board games as entertainment, I was set for the afternoon. Children and dogs are welcomed here (not just tolerated) so our little King Charles pottered about making friends and being spoilt while we lazed away the afternoon in comfort.
Food at The Rectory was as you would expect; a changing menu of locally- sourced meat and seasonal produce cooked imaginatively and skilfully and served in a warm and relaxed setting. The service, like everything else here is laid back. Every need is catered for but it’s done without fuss or formality. There was not a sommelier in sight, however every member of staff we encountered was knowledgeable, efficient and… (gasp!) wearing casual clothes. It was a refreshing change.
After some perusing of the menu, canapés and aperitifs in the drawing room, I opted for seared scallops, mushy peas and black and white pudding followed by old spot belly pork with apple fondant, crackling and port sauce. Both were well-executed, well-presented and at just a little over £30 a head for three-course fine dining, extremely reasonable. My partner chose a delicate ravioli of crab and salmon with wilted spinach and fish cream sauce for his starter, and thought that his main course of venison with dauphinoise potatoes, savoy cabbage and blackberry and cassis sauce was perfectly cooked if a little rich for our post-Christmas palates. Our deserts were less memorable but the other courses more than made up for it. The wine list was varied and covered all bases, for all occasions and budgets from a wallet-friendly £16. Champagne, cocktails and wine by the glass or half bottle are also available.
As you would expect from the décor and atmosphere that has been created elsewhere in The Rectory, our room was equally well-designed and restful. It was airy, comfortable and spacious, furnished in calming colours in a traditional style with luxurious touches and modern gadgets. The comfortable seating (and more reading material), freestanding bath and enormous bed meant I had everything I needed for whiling away the morning at the same time as taking in the view of the attractive gardens and outdoor pool, lovely even in the depths of winter. I imagine that a lazy summer evening spent in the garden would be pretty special indeed.
All that relaxing left me hungry and we headed down for a late breakfast, which for me was one of the highlights of my stay. There was something for everyone; a full English for those who didn’t bother to make a New Year’s resolution, and fruit salad, homemade porridge and homemade granola for those who did, as well as everything in-between; made to order, all locally sourced and served with a smile. A perfect end to a lovely night away.
I may have fallen off the diet wagon in spectacular style, but I came away from The Rectory feeling refreshed, relaxed and thoroughly spoilt. Life’s too short to be virtuous all the time…and there’s always next year.