Cowley Manor Experimental – Gloucestershire, England
Modelled on Villa Borghese in Rome and standing in Grade II listed gardens and 55 acres of parkland, Cowley Manor is thought to have inspired Lewis Carrol to write Alice in Wonderland. Whilst the main house is only just over a century, its origins can be found in the Domesday Book. Now, as part of the eclectic Experimental Group, it is the epitome of style and a Cotswold haven. The bold and colourful interiors make your jaw drop, and the gardens are truly exquisite. A stay here is pure escapism, whether you choose to explore the surrounding countryside and nearby villages, or never venture beyond the gates.
At A Glance
Why We Love It:For its perfect blend of glitz and charm in a glorious country setting.
Style:Retro country chic.
Location:Close to the village of Cowley, in the heart of the Cotswolds – 20 minutes south of Cheltenham and around two hours from London.
Rooms:31 funky rooms and suites in the main house and the stable block.
Swimming:An outdoor terrace pool with waiter service and an indoor Spa pool.
Children:Ideal for families, with special events throughout school holidays.
Accessibility:Two rooms are specially adapted for guests with limited mobility.
Open From:All year round.
Price:from £288 per room, per night.
With Dorothée Meilichzon’s signature style, the rooms and suites at Cowley Manor are bold and extravagant – a stunning mix of classical and contemporary furniture, elements and colours. From the cosy and intimate Petite Cowley Rooms in the main house, to the larger Wildflower Rooms, with their enormous bathrooms (some also feature a private terrace), and the wood panelled Water Lily Rooms looking out over the lake, they are all wildly romantic.
The mezzanine Alpaca’s Room is perfect for a family, as are the spacious Family Tree Rooms. The Suites are larger still and guarantee a memorable few days away. They feature private terraces and sumptuous bathrooms, and four poster beds you’ll struggle to get out of in the morning.
Under the helm of celebrated chef Jackson Boxer, the focus at Cowley Manor is very much on local and seasonal produce, with a distinct French influence. It’s an event in itself to dine in the wood panelled restaurant, or out on the terrace, where breakfasts are plentiful and dishes are beautifully presented. And of course, being part of the Experimental Group, the bar is the place to hang out, with its lavish cocktail list.
Cowley Manor is surrounded by some of the loveliest country walks in the Cotswolds. And you don’t even have to bring wellies, as the hotel will lend you a pair of Hunters. You can’t come here and not explore the gardens. Planted in the Italianate style, with mature cedars and sequoias, natural springs flowing into ponds and fountains and full of statues, they are simply stunning. Take a tour with the Head Gardener for a full appreciation, or find a quiet spot for a chilled afternoon.
Throughout the summer, the gardens host an outdoor cinema, so make sure you book your ticket. The C-Side Spa should also be on your list of things to book. This serene and soulful space is a real sanctuary. Further afield, there’s plenty to see and do, from castles to distilleries, chocolate box villages and country pubs.
Where better to spend a few days than the place that inspired some of Alice in Wonderland’s most extraordinary adventures? The grounds are perfect for exploring (beware of rabbit holes) and younger guests are treated like VIPs. The family rooms are cosy; there are special children’s menus and even a family eating area. Babysitting is also available on request. Birdland Park and Gardens is just a short drive away – where you’ll find a mini zoo that’ll keep children entertained for hours.
All the produce at Cowley Manor comes from sustainable sources and local farmers and artisan producers.
Close to the village of Cowley, in the heart of the Cotswolds – 20 minutes south of Cheltenham and two hours from London.