My husband and I spent the second part of our first trip to the United Kingdom in the Cotswold village of Chipping Campden. After starting our trip in London, the relaxing atmosphere and slower pace of Chipping Campden was a much welcomed change. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely loved London, but it was definitely nice to get away from all of the crowds.
This area of English countryside is known for being very scenic, so we decided to rent a car to drive the hour and a half to Chipping Campden. Since neither my husband nor I have ever driven on the left side of the road and on the right side of the car, we thought it best not to drive through the heart of London. Everything I found online suggested renting your car at Heathrow airport so you won’t have to drive through central London, and that’s just what we did. The gentleman who assisted us at Enterprise Rent-A-Car was very helpful and friendly. It was so easy, and we were able to hop right on the highway.
I highly recommend driving to the Cotswolds yourself if you’re able to. It only took a short time to get really comfortable with the opposite driving, and the route was very pretty. If you plan to do activities in villages other than where you’re staying, the car is essential to get around.
We spent our first afternoon walking around and exploring Chipping Campden. We visited St. James’ Church which towers over the town and has gorgeous medieval architecture. The next day we ventured out to Broadway Tower and Sudeley Castle, both of which have fascinating histories.
For a small admission fee, you can go into Broadway Tower and learn all about it’s history. At the top of the tower you take in sweeping views of the countryside. There are also a few walking trails around the tower if you are looking for a pleasant stroll. And to my excitement, there were loads of sheep around, including little lambs!
This privately owned castle is inhabited by Lady Ashcombe and her family. She has lived there for over 50 years, but before that it had a very long and interesting history. A portion of the castle is open to the public with exhibits about its past. The grounds are also beautifully manicured with extensive colorful gardens, and a pheasant collection with birds from all over the world. There is an admission fee that goes to helping maintain the grounds. If you’re in the area, it’s worth stopping in for a visit.
When we weren’t exploring the Cotswolds, we were enjoying the delicious foods that Chipping Campden had to offer.
The Bantam Tea Rooms – This place was so cute and charming! We walked past it on our first evening in town but it was already closed, so when we saw fresh baked goods in the window the following morning, we of course had to stop in.
Huxleys – On our second, and final, morning in Chipping Campden, we opted for breakfast at Huxleys. Right across from the door as you walk in is a table with pastries and scones. The initial eating area when you first come into the restaurant is very cozy with a large fireplace and comfortable furniture. There is a larger back room with more tables as well. Our breakfast here was very tasty.
The Jackrabbit Restaurant – While our hotel was super cute and charming, their restaurant was a little disappointing. Of all the places we ate in Chipping Campden, this was the only one I probably wouldn’t recommend. The prices were high, the portions were tiny, and the food was only okay. The menu selection was already small because they are supposed to have more unique dishes, but then they were out of the two items on the menu we wanted. To make it worse, our waiter didn’t tell us they were out before it came time to order, so we then had to take more time with the menu. It was also a bit of a red flag that during our entire meal there was only one other couple dining in the restaurant.
The Lygon Arms – I was craving some traditional English comfort food for dinner when we came across this pub. I had the cottage pie and it was exactly what I had hoped for. The menu includes other traditional English dishes, as well as a variety of meat pies. This was probably my favorite place we ate at in Chipping Campden. The atmosphere was great, it was small and cozy, and the people working there were very friendly. Several locals stopped in for drinks and to chat with the proprietor while we dined. Definitely eat here or at least stop in for a pint.
Dover’s Bar – Before dinner we stopped in at Dover’s Bar for a pint of beer and cider. I think this is only a bar, and not a dining establishment. Again, it has a lot of traditional English country charm.
Last but not least, I will tell you about our hotel. The Kings Hotel was absolutely wonderful. It was probably my favorite place we stayed on this whole trip. It is a boutique hotel in an old cottage on the High Street in Chipping Campden. It is close to all of the restaurants and shopping. There are two buildings, the main front one, and a cottage in the back. There is a lovely picnic area and graveled parking area in between. We stayed in their Cottage Master Double room and it was everything we could have hoped for. Just look at the pictures for yourself! I highly recommend this hotel.
Our time in the Cotswolds was the perfect transition between our time in London and our time in Edinburgh. If you’re looking for somewhere to visit in the English countryside, Chipping Campden is the place to go.