Barnsley House is set within a 17th century manor house – one of the very prettiest, grand but on a manageable scale so you feel at ease walking through the door in jeans and trainers. The rural, Cotswolds village of Barnsley feels a million miles away from the chaos of the city, but is, in fact, just an hour and half drive from London, which makes it an easy weekend retreat. The staff are largely responsible for the hotel’s tranquil, relaxed atmosphere; they’re just the right level of attentive, quietly ensuring that all guests are looked after and made to feel completely at home, whilst still maintaining enough distance to allow you to really enjoy the peace of the countryside. Wellies and bikes can be borrowed and a private, complimentary screening arranged in the hidden garden cinema.
We were fortunate enough to be assigned a deluxe garden room in the main house, overlooking the bright green manicured lawns and blooming flower beds. The interiors were spacious, airy and tastefully decorated with a huge double bed and an even more enormous bathroom (almost the size of the room itself and one of the most beautiful we’ve ever entered). Curiously despite the size, the room managed to feel, like the rest of the house, snug and homely too. If, like we were, you’re reluctant to leave your cosy sanctuary, the hotel has a very extensive library of DVDs that you can borrow to watch from bed and an especially delicious breakfast delivered to your door, is available right up till 11am on weekends. For complete seclusion, there’s the stable yard suites or one of the two luxurious hideaways: the Secret Garden suite or the Potting Shed.
Indulgent simplicity is the hotel’s main ethos, and this translates well through chef Graham Grafton’s menu of unfussy, seasonal dishes made with local ingredients and homegrown vegetables plucked straight from the Barnsley vegetable patch (you can see the crops growing for yourself at the back of the garden). The Potager is the official in-house dining space, although you can eat almost anywhere you like, including in the stunning grounds. The freshly baked bread that fills the complimentary basket, accompanied by herb infused oils and dips, is addictively good, as are the light homemade ice creams and sorbets. Alternatively, you can hop over to the Village Pub for a change of scene.
Down a winding path through the garden, hides the spa sunken into the landscape. The floor to ceiling windows, herbaceous sauna, heated outdoor hydrotherapy pool and garden seating spaces gracefully connect the interiors with the natural surroundings to create an atmosphere of complete calm and repose. The relaxation room is the highlight, lined with unbelievably comfy sofas, footstools and blankets, where you can pour yourself a glass of cool citrus infused water and curl up for a midday snooze.
In a Nutshell
Barnsley House is the jewel of the Cotswolds hotels, defined by easy elegance and informal luxury. The calming, natural environment, welcoming, laid back staff and enchanting, secret spa make it the ultimate mini break destination.
Words by Millie Walton