Books Cotswolds

The Cotswold Report: from old favorites to new finds, the region’s best eating, drinking & shopping

I’ve just arrived back in Los Angeles after a month in the Cotswolds, where I was struck by the pleasingly consistent, almost defiant answer locals give when asked what’s new: NOTHING. While this may be true of some things—the wet weather and the stunning landscapes come to mind—I found the Wolds were awash with new and worthy finds: some just opened, some that have been around but were new to me. During our visit I also tried all our old standards, and I’m delighted to report they generally remain in good form. Still, with very few exceptions, the service in Cotswold restaurants remains too slow. Even if a kitchen is busy, much could be done to soothe tempers by providing prompt delivery of water, wine and bread, in that order. Sadly, even this seems to be too much to expect of many eateries whose prices demand that they should know better.

And now on to the good stuff. Starting in the north and working our way south, here’s my list of the best of the Cotswolds:


  • Greek Deli – Recently opened by hospitality veteran Ilias Karalivanos, this is a great spot for coffee and a light lunch of Greek classics. Don’t leave without some Greek wine and tasty tidbits from the deli case.
  • Christmas Birds & Books – In the same arcade as the Greek Deli, Richard Kemp recently opened Moreton’s only bookshop with the worthy sentiment: “Towns deserve bookshops. They are part of the community.” Amen.
Stow-on-the-Wold and nearby
  • The Porch House – This recently renovated pub/hotel is decorated with oversize bell jars housing antiquarian books, an interior design trick I’m planning to employ when I buy my Cotswold dream house. Snack on honeyed chili nuts and a pint of something local in
    the low-ceilinged pub, purportedly the oldest inn in England.
  • The Old Butchers – One of my old favorites for Sunday lunch has been reinvented as a charming wine and charcuterie bar. Coincidentally, we found its former manager at the delightful Royal Oak in Gretton, just outside of Winchombe, where we enjoyed a generous Sunday roast.
  •  Vintage and Paint – Just opposite The Old Butchers, this curiosity shop has everything from old Johnny Strong dolls to vintage movie lights. A refreshing take on the typical Cotswold antique shop.
  • The Borzoi Bookshop – On a tiny lane just off the market square sits a gem of an independent bookstore. Well stocked with regionally relevant books, it’s the perfect spot to pick up my favorite kind of souvenir.
  • The Coffee House – A couple doors down from the bookshop, their leather sofas are my favorite place to catch up on the papers.
  • Daylesford Organic (about 4 miles east of Stow) – We had our first Daylesford lunch in their Notting Hill branch, but the site just outside of Stow is the real deal. It’s easy to feel like a target market here (and hate yourself a little bit for it), but there’s no getting around the fact that the food is fantastic. The proprietress recently opened The Wild Rabbit in nearby Kingham, which is on my list for my next trip to England.
Beetroot soup at Daylesford
  • No 131 – A welcome, terribly stylish hotel/restaurant/bar addition to the Promenade, and not just because the bartender knows how to make a stonking Old Fashioned.
  • Mad Hatter Bookshop – a bookstore and a hat shop, because, why not? Think of the English penchant for hats and its literary heritage, and it all starts to make more sense.
  • New Dragon Inn – When I need a break from the standard Cotswold menu of pies, sausage and mash, and fish cakes, I head for the New Dragon Inn. Served in the incongruous surroundings of a Grade I listed building (koi tank aside), I’m a fan of the crispy duck and Singapore noodles.
  • The Black Cat – A new café in the old wool house. If this was Portland, it’d be loaded with hipsters and their Mac Books, but this is the Cotswolds which means you won’t struggle with getting a table or an overloaded wifi signal. Great breakfast baps, but the kitchen seem to struggle if an order includes more than two items.
  • The Wheatsheaf – Every time we return, the prices have nudged gently upward, but that’s done nothing to dampen business. Excellent fish dishes and the sirloin with peppercorn sauce always delivers. Service remains consistently inconsistent.
  • The Ox House Wine Company – My old favorite now serves tasty lunches. Menu changes on a weekly basis but may include anything from a lamb curry to fishcakes. There’s Viennoiserie in the mornings, plus standout bacon sandwiches. Of course the real attraction here is the wine, all hand selected from small producers. A delight whether you’re drinking in or taking a bottle or two away.
Relaxing in front of the fire at the Ox House


  • Barnsley House cinema nights are a favorite way to spend an evening in the Cotswolds. Relax with a glass of wine in the pink-loveseat splendor of it all. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to attend, although it’s a great place to stay if you’re in need of a bed.
  • The Village Pub – A firm old favorite. One of those rare places I would be happy ordering everything on the menu.
  • The Royal Oak – Recently refurbished, this pub with rooms is worth a visit and a good excuse to take in a scenic stretch of Tetbury that’s off the main drag.
  • Moloh – If you’re after some real royal memorabilia, skip Prince Charles’ Highgrove shop and head to Moloh, an upscale British women’s clothier favored by Kate Middleton. 
  • The Ormond – A pub and hotel that’s warm, friendly, and offers my personal favorite form of royal memorabilia: coronation chicken.
The Snooty Fox, Tetbury

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  • Samantha
    June 2, 2014 at 2:11 am

    I am so thrilled to have found your blog! My husband and I are off to the Cotswolds next month where we've rented a cottage for a week. Your tips are great! We live in San Francisco after moving from LA, so your perspective means alot :). Thank you!