The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and the mood for hibernation has set in. All I can think about is curling up in front of a log fire, a glass of wine in hand and a belly full of hearty food while the temperature drops outside. So, what better place to pick for a winter staycation than the Cotswolds, home of honey-coloured cottages and stunning country walks?
It's no wonder the area is a magnet for celebrities. Kate Moss, Elizabeth Hurley, Jeremy Clarkson and Mike and Zara Tindall all call the place home, while the Beckhams are in the process of building their Beckingham Palace 2.0 in A-lister-loved Chipping Norton.
The Oaks cottage is a 15-minute walk from Broadway village
With scores of villages and towns to explore, there’s no better place to start than arguably the most beautiful of them all, Broadway, also known as 'the jewel of the Cotswolds'. The village features one small high street, peppered with cafes, delis, independent boutiques and old-style sweet and fudge shops.
There are just a handful of pubs and restaurants to choose from; the Lygon Arms, which does a fantastic Sunday roast, is the most famous. With Christmas around the corner, the first signs of tinsel, wreaths and Christmas trees were showing when we visited in late October. I can just imagine how magical the village will look come December.
The cottage has a communal garden and games room
Wanting to make the most of feeling like we were in the countryside - cooking big wintry meals and enjoying nights in - we opted to stay in an idyllic Sykes Cottages property called The Oaks. Located a 15-minute walk from the high street, the cottage was everything we could have asked for and more. It was homely, charming and traditional; we felt immediately welcomed by the owner Sue, who had prepared a tea cake for our arrival.
It sleeps six people in three bedrooms
The cottage sleeps six, with one of the three bedrooms featuring an en-suite bathroom. Downstairs is the fully-equipped, open plan kitchen and dining room, leading to the piece de resistance of the property - the spacious, sumptuous living room. With big leather sofas, a roaring log fire, a flat screen TV and access to the communal patio and garden, it ticked all the boxes.
Everything had been thought of, from providing torches to walk into Broadway at night (the cottage is located down a non-lit road), to offering babysitting services and jacuzzi hire. There is also a games room with darts, table tennis, a snooker table and stacks of DVDs to keep you entertained.
The sumptuous living room has a log fire and cosy sofas
Coming from the hustle and bustle of London, fresh country walks were our priority and the village of Snowshill, where the opening scenes of Bridget Jones' Diary was filmed, was top of our list. It was a manageable seven-mile loop from Broadway to Snowshill and back, making sure we stopped by the famed Broadway Tower which offers spectacular views of the Cotswolds.
Those driving can also explore the nearby Bourton-on-the-Water or Stow-on-the-Wold, which are again some of the prettiest places in the area. With only a weekend to spare, there wasn’t enough time to see it all. Guess that means we'll just have to come back.
To book and see more properties around the UK, visit sykescottages.co.uk.