Royal Crescent Bath

Taking a holiday in Oxford, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon from your Cotswolds accommodation

For all of the undoubted attractions of the Cotswolds, ranging from picture-postcard villages to enchanting markets and all manner of other activities of interest, it’s always difficult to avoid the considerable draw of major towns and cities just outside the Cotswolds area. These include Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath, three places rich in history, but also with plenty to offer right now to the curious holidaymaker.

The attractions of a holiday in Oxford are certainly obvious to anyone who has ever gazed upon the world-famous “dreaming spires” in Inspector Morse, or even sent a son or daughter to study there. They include the Carfax Tower and University Church of St Mary the Virgin that offer impressive views over that iconic skyline, while there’s also the historic Covered Market and the Thames/Isis and Cherwell rivers, where punting is a common sight in the summer.

However, eager intellectuals and museum-goers alike who embark on a holiday in Oxford will also delight in such fabled institutions as the Ashmolean Museum, Modern Art Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. But Oxford has a serious rival for the attentions of those visiting the Cotswolds and surrounding areas: the Somerset city of Bath.

Having first been established as a spa by the Romans, the city is of course especially famous for its Roman Baths. However, that the city was inscribed a World Heritage Site in 1987 also suggests that it possesses a wealth of other historical attractions, including Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent, the latter an impressive sweep of terraced Georgian houses that has come to define Bath in the world’s eye.

The city also offers a wealth of restaurants, public houses and bars, together with regular open-top bus tours and even many distinguished parks and sporting venues. Such attractions help to make Bath more than a mere diversion on anyone’s holiday in Oxford or the Cotswolds, and much the same could be said of Stratford-upon-Avon, a south Warwickshire market town and civil parish that will always be irrevocably associated with William Shakespeare.

As the birthplace of the legendary playwright and poet, Stratford-upon-Avon is home to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where the Royal Shakespeare Company is based, to say nothing of Shakespeare’s Birthplace itself, a restored 16th century half-timbered house on Henley Street. Described as “a Mecca for all lovers of literature”, the house is now a small museum giving you a priceless glimpse into Shakespeare’s early life – including his first five years of married life with wife Anne Hathaway.

When all of these attractions are taken together, it’s clear why a holiday in Oxford, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon remains such a powerful draw for anyone who visits the Cotswolds and nearby areas – there’s simply no experience quite like those that these places offer.

Arlington Row, Bibury

What draws people to Cotswold holidays time and time again?

Even a mere mention of the words ‘Cotswolds’ conjures up idyllic images of picture-postcard
towns and villages in pleasant rural surroundings, so you might imagine that there is little need
to spell out the more exact reasons people across the UK and beyond are continually seeking
Cotswolds holidays. However, it is instructive nonetheless to consider what makes this Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty such a consistent draw for so many visitors, year after year.

After all, Cotswolds holidays don’t just grant you access to a range of hills spanning south-
western and west-central England. They also grant you access to a dizzying range of things to
do and see across so many enchanting towns and villages, rather more than one would expect
of a part of the UK with such a sleepy reputation. Yes, you will definitely encounter no shortage
of charming countryside, but in-between, you’ll discover the likes of prestigious stately homes,
ancient churches and impressive castles. So much about Cotswolds holidays is about history, but
it’s also about preserving those traditions that help to keep the area so alluring today.

With the Cotswolds stretching more than 100 miles from Ilmington in Warwickshire to historic
Bath, you’ll have only explored a small area of the region by the time you leave, no matter how
thorough you may be. In any case, Cotswolds holidays are the perfect holidays on which to take
your time, idly whiling away the hours. You could spend all day strolling through the picturesque
countryside that defines this part of the world, or you could pay a visit to an antique shop or art
gallery in the nearest village. Alternatively, just relax back in your accommodation, of which the
Cotswolds offer a lot. From three star hotels to Country house hotels, there’s always a fine place
to stay.

Struggling to think of somewhere to start? Well, there’s always the beautiful Chipping Campden,
where you will find one of the country’s oldest chartered weekly markets, or the busy spa town
of Cheltenham, famous for its world-class horse racing and a range of year-round cultural
festivals. And don’t forget the so-called ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’: the picturesque village of
Broadway, with buildings dating back to the 16th Century. Any of these would make ideal bases
to explore all that Cotswolds holidays have to offer.