Worth getting out of bed for
Grab a pair of gumboots and a walking map from reception and explore the countryside (if you’re really keen, ring ahead and reserve wellies in your size). A walk through Coln Valley, just 10 minutes away by car, is very enjoyable. Staff can also arrange fantastic activities from rowing along the Thames with a picnic hamper to side-saddle riding lessons. Have a picnic and watch a game at Cirencester Park Polo Club (+44 (0)1285 653225; www.cirencesterpolo.co.uk) or Beaufort Polo Club, favoured by the Prince of Wales and his sons (+44 (0)1666 880510; www.beaufortpoloclub.co.uk). Horse-riding and fishing can be organised by the hotel. Try ballooning with Balloon Flights, Cheltenham (+44 (0)1242 675003; www.hot-air-ballooning.ltd.uk), or clay-pigeon shooting at Chatcombe Estate Shooting School (+44 (0)1242 870391).
Jesse’s Bistro in Cirencester (+44 (0)1285 641497) is a small, relaxed restaurant with its own cheese shop, serving fresh fish and meat roasted in a wood-burning oven. You’ll find it in a stableyard behind the highly regarded butcher’s, Jesse Smiths. The Bell at Sapperton near Cirencester (+44 (0)1285 760298), where most ingredients of its gastropub menu are locally sourced. With two Michelin stars, Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham (+44 (0)1242 573449) serves English and French cuisine.
Lively Montpellier Wine Bar in Cheltenham (01242 527774). With polished-wood tables, crackling fires and exposed beams, The Village Pub (+44 (0)1285 740421), across the road from Barnsley House, is not only a wonderful place to nurse a pint (or a Pimm’s), but also does fantastic food. On Tetbury’s Cirencester Road in a converted jail, Trouble House Inn (+44 (0)1666 502206) is an option for country-pub grub. Just outside Cirencester in Ewen, 16th-century Wild Duck Inn (+44 (0)1285 770310) is a step-back-in-time treat, with oak panelling, an enormous fireplace and ancestral oil paintings. It's a lovely place for a few drinks; there’s real ale on tap and a killer wine list, but the big draw is the canopied courtyard with an ancient apple tree at its, ahem, core.
Deli-café The Rectory Kitchen & Cellar at 2 Templar Mews off Black Jack Street in Cirencester (01285 644700) is a foodie’s paradise, with locally sourced produce and fresh, delicious home cooking. Eat in or take away for future enjoyment. Squirrel away some freshly baked biscuits for the car journey home, or a jar of the Rectory's lemon curd as a souvenir.
March Cheltenham Festival kicks off Britain’s horse-racing calendar, and hosts the Gold Cup (+44 (0)1242 537642; www.cheltenham.co.uk). April/May Badminton Horse Trials (+44 (0)1454 218272; www.badminton-horse.co.uk). August Gatcombe Horse Trials at Gatcombe Park (www.gatcombe-horse.co.uk).
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A Barnsley House champagne cocktail each – or a glass of champagne in the Village Pub across the road – on each night of your stay
From the Guestbook…
Wow. Barnsley House is the ideal place for a chic country weekend break. We spent a memorable Mother's Day evening and enjoyed all the facilities. Even the babysitter was superb. S...more