Near honey-hued Broadway village, Dormy House is a 17th-century farmhouse given a 21st-century twist by Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’ interior-design talents, Todhunter Earle. Retro-chic rooms reflect the hotel’s cosmopolitan clientele, with cosy and clean-lined rooms in neutral hues and original features, or Emily Todhunter's bold geometric prints alongside bespoke Scandinavian-style furnishings. Its location on the 400-acre Farncombe Estate affords miles of countryside to explore, plus timeless views from the rooms, a restaurant – where you’ll dine on cleverly composed Cotswolds’ fare – and a locally lauded country pub nearby.
Get this when you book through us:
A scented candle – designed exclusively for Dormy House – in your room; GoldSmiths also receive a plate of handmade chocolates
38, including 10 suites. A five-minute drive from the main building, Foxhill Manor has eight rooms and can also be booked for exclusive house parties.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Early arrivals can stash their luggage and head to one of three lounges.
Double rooms from £279.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
A full English breakfast and a buffet is included in the room rate, with pastries, meats and cheeses and cereal; cooked options include eggs benedict with smoked salmon or kippers.
Need a bucolic breather? Ask reception for the key to the secret Japanese-themed garden, tucked away on the Farncombe Estate. Dormy House also offers a range of luxury hampers for garden jaunts, too.
At the hotel
Spa, gardens, lounge, two gyms, CD and DVD library and free WiFi. In-room: flatscreen TV, tablet computer, Nespresso machine, kettle and teas, alarm clock, free bottled water and Temple Spa bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The rose-hued Attic sits resplendent in the eaves, secluded in the Farmhouse, with whitewashed beams and plentiful shower space – including two shower seats for very intimate tête-à-têtes with your chosen Smith. Write-home-worthy detailing isn’t skimped on in the smaller rooms either; The Emily Todhunter-designed Comfy Room interiors range from regal mulberry walls with minimalist four-poster beds to calm caramel and taupe tones.
The spa has a sleek 16m infinity-edged pool, lit by candles encased in glass to add a touch of romance to your backstroke. Children are welcome in the pool and Greenhouse Café from 9am to 10.30am and 4pm to 5.30pm; at other times, it's adults only.
The sleek, Scandi-chic House Spa sprawls over several floors. There are two gyms: one for a leisurely work out and the Studio for pre-booked personal-training sessions. The thermal suite comprises of a hot juniper sauna, an experience shower and a salt-infusion therapy room, and a rhassoul-mud room and outdoor hot tub are a pampering preamble to the host of Temple Spa treatments on offer in the six serenely styled rooms (including a 'couple's closet'). Try truffle-rich facials and massage oils infused with ginger, bergamot and geranium, then head upstairs for a spot of grooming at the Veuve Clicquot nail bar and a health-packed lunch on the Greenhouse's terrace. Be sure to book your treatments in advance, though.
A pair of Muck boots for rustic rambling. Leave your tablet computer at home; all rooms have one and in this sublime spot you’ll want to gaze at the view rather than a screen anyway.
All public areas are wheelchair accessible and there are two disabled-access rooms (both are Comfy rooms).
Dogs over one year old can stay for £30 a night each. The Comfy-category room 32, and 35 in the Danish Court building are pet-friendly, and bowls, baskets, a pet menu, dog sitting and welcome pack are provided. Pets are not allowed in communal areas. See more pet-friendly hotels in Cotswolds.
Kids get goodie bags at check-in, and there's a creative kids’ menu that's tailored to under-12s. Plenty of kit is offered and babysitting is £15 an hour.
Babies, toddlers and juniors. Animal lovers and tractor- or train-enthusiasts will find lots to love in the surrounding countryside.
The spacious Den has a lounge, and extra beds (£40 a night for 4–12 year olds; £60 for 13–16 year olds) or cots can be added to some Comfy and Splendid rooms and suites (ask when booking).
The sprawling Farncombe Estate gives children a 400-acre playground, with a secret garden to explore. Nearby there are plenty of boredom-beating activities, including Cotswold Farm Park (run by Countryfile’s Adam Henson), where kids can frolic with small animals, drive tractors and learn about kidding and shearing. The Falconry Centre, All Things Wild Nature Centre and Cotswolds’ Riding are all within eight miles of the hotel, allowing for more outdoor exploits, and the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway is a stunning antique steam train that will thrill Thomas the Tank Engine fans.
Children are allowed in the Garden Room restaurant, but they may feel more comfortable dining in the Potting Shed. A well-considered kids’ menu offers orzo pasta, grilled salmon, a stir-fry and crêpes, and high chairs, booster seats and baby-changing facilities are available. Meals can be customised to your child’s taste and staff are happy to heat milk and baby food.
Short-notice babysitting can be booked through reception, charged at £15 an hour.
No need to pack
The hotel may supply plenty of baby kit, including high chairs and booster seats, but be sure to stash a few favoured toys in your suitcase – these can’t be borrowed from reception.
On arrival, children are given a Dormy passport and a goodie bag.
If you only have eyes for each other choose a secluded corner table; otherwise ogle the view from a window seat (or one on the terrace if it’s sunny).
Buffed-up bumpkin: put aside pressed collars and slip into chinos; well-cut Margaret Howell-style corduroys, knits and shift dresses will serve Mrs Smith well.
The hotel's restaurants are helmed by head chef Sam Bowser, whose skills helped whisk him through the ranks in some of the country's most acclaimed kitchens, where he worked alongside industry heavyweights like Raymond Blanc, Philip Howard and Michel Roux Jr. The Potting Shed menu is more down to earth, but its offerings are no less delicious – expect wholesome, hearty dishes like roast duck, smoked haddock and pork belly. Tucked away in the spa, the Greenhouse serves wholesome lunches and tempting cakes; on a sunny day, its tree-circled terrace makes a peaceful spot for afternoon tea. The Back Garden highlights the best of the Cotswolds with slow foods, locally grown greens and rare-breed meats. Start with the fish of the day or duck Wellington and save room for orange marmalade soufflé with toast ice cream or a variety of rhubarb-based desserts. At MO guests (only 12 at a time) can settle in for a modern seven-course tasting menu that focuses on sustainable, seasonal ingredients.
The Potting Shed is a country pub that’s been tidied up around the edges – retro flooring, a spectacular conical skylight and architectural chandeliers denote a departure from the average British boozer. However, down-to-earth pub grub – replete with sharing platters – a selection of local Real Ales and a sociable seating plan show it hasn’t forgotten its rustic roots.
Breakfast from 7.30am to 10.30am daily; dinner from 7pm to 9.30pm Wednesday to Sunday and Sunday lunch from noon to 2.30pm. Snacks are served all day in the lounge. In the Potting Shed pub, lunch is from noon to 2.30pm, and dinner from 6pm to 9.30pm.
Room service can be ordered 24 hours a day. All it takes is the touch of a button on your in-room tablet to send staff scurrying to your door with silver-cloche-covered sharing platters and meals made with fresh local fare.
Dormy House sits deep in Cotswolds’ countryside, just a wellie-clad wander from Broadway village and a half-hour scenic drive to Stratford-upon-Avon.
The closest international hub is Birmingham Airport (www.birminghamairport.co.uk), an hour’s drive away. Bristol Airport is a 90-minute drive from the hotel and London hubs are further afield: London Heathrow is 82 miles away; Gatwick, 117.
Moreton-in-Marsh railway station is the closest, a 14-minute drive from the hotel. First Great Western trains (www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk) arrive direct from London Paddington in 90 minutes, Reading in an hour and Oxford in 40 minutes.
If you’re travelling from London, reach the hotel by the M40 and the A44, take the Saintbury turn off and you’ll see signs for the hotel. From Birmingham take the M42 and A46. Birmingham and Bristol airports and London terminals have car-hire kiosks and you’ll be glad of a set of wheels while staying in these eye-candy-filled environs.
To feel like true landed gentry the hotel can arrange for you to swoop in on a helicopter, or you can bring your own; the helipad coordinates are: Longitude W150.32.18/ N522.4.12.
Worth getting out of bed for
It’s a tough call to peel back your designer eiderdown and leave the cosiness of your room while staying at Dormy House hotel, but the call of the Cotswolds will tempt you outside. Even a simple country stroll or bike ride becomes a decadent affair when you take a Dormy House hamper (filled with sandwiches, cakes and champagne), and bike and helmet hire can be arranged at reception; customised maps are also on-hand. If heading further afield, the hotel can hire a classic car for you to zip up and down evergreen lanes and village hop. Broadway’s Gordon Russell Design Museum and dinky shops are a five-minute drive away, but it’s easy to see several of these bijou bucolic spots in a day: browse arts and crafts in Chipping Campden, antique hunt in Stow-on-the-Wold, stop at stately Sudeley Castle in winsome Winchcombe and prop up the bar in one of Burford’s wisteria-clad country inns. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is also a haven for historic homes; a 15-minute drive away sits Snowshill Manor, a lavishly decorated house with an impressive collection of conversation starters – the legacy of artist and poet Charles Paget Wade – including stuffed animals, samurai armour and a penny farthing, which you can ride if you wish. A half-hour drive away, you’ll arrive at inescapably Shakespearean Stratford-upon-Avon, which has plenty of attractions honouring its native son – the best of a bard bunch includes Shakespeare’s birthplace, where Charles Dickens and John Keats have paid homage to the playwright. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is also well worth a visit, it’s here that Shakespeare courted his future missus – try some Tudor-style moves on your fellow Smith, with a stroll through the romantic lavender-scented gardens. Alternatively a half-hour southwesterly drive will bring you to Georgian spa town Cheltenham where horse-racing holds sway in March each year, and cultural festivals pop up as often as historic landmarks. If driving of a different kind floats your boat, Broadway Golf Club is on Dormy House’s doorstep. Guests can purchase membership for a day – for nine or 18-hole sessions – and competent golfers are preferred; however, lessons are available for greenhorns if needed.
Childswickham Inn & Brasserie is an ancient eatery with a touch of cosmopolitan chic. Lavender-coloured slatted-wood walls and exposed beams entice you into one of many cosy cubbyholes to gorge on fine pub grub. Smith stablemate, The Lygon Arms, a 10-minute drive from the hotel, has a 17th-century restaurant housed in a vaulted minstrel's gallery. Wolf down seasonal platters and pies, and plenty of game, under exposed beams, before digging into the cocktail menu, which is laced with whisky and soused with spiced rum. Locally sourced ingredients are par for the course in this farm-filled area, but none more so than the Seagrave Arms; bring a map of the Cotswolds along and the chef can point out where everything on your plate comes from. Serving Gloucester Old Spot pork, Dexter beef and Cotswolds’ lamb, diners get a true taste of the region; the bar's ales also hail from bijou breweries, just a cobble's throw away. The Horse and Groom is a honey-hued village pub with a stylish menu of refined rustic fare.
Housed in one of Broadway’s limestone cottages, the Market Pantry's whitewashed chairs and gingham cloths evoke an Edwardian kitchen. Here tartines, toasties and cream teas are served beside a glass-domed menagerie of cakes and pastries; all portions are generously sized, and it’s just an eight-minute drive from the hotel.
Pubs in this area pretty much have one speed – laid-back country local – but this is no bad thing, especially when they're as good as the Swan Broadway – crumbly stone walls? Check. Roaring fire? Check. A carefully considered menu? Check. This Worcestershire wonder is the kind of stumbled-upon unpretentious pub you came all the way here for.
Driving through Gloucestershire and then Worcestershire’s winding country lanes, we felt the anticipation bubbling. This was a special weekend to celebrate Mr Smith’s birthday and, quietly, I felt pressure, as I wanted everything to be heavenly. In true British style, it rained pretty much the entire journey from London to the Cotswolds, but funnily enough this didn’t dampen spirits in the slightest and only made us more excited for what lay ahead. Once we saw the village of Broadway, we knew that we were close. Fresh air gushed in through the windows along with the promise of a weekend of relaxation. Pulling into the gravelled driveway of Dormy House, we felt shoulders loosening.
If you harbour arriviste ambitions, but are too easy-going to affect Astor-style airs and graces, luxe yet laid-back Dormy House will be right up your tree-lined lane. From the moment you step out of the car, a lovely doorman appears to carry your bags. Everyone who works at Dormy House is smiley and patient – as we discovered when we repeatedly got lost trying to find our room in the main house (not that it was hard, we were just too relaxed to pay attention). There's nothing like feeling like royalty, before you’ve even stepped foot in the hotel.
After check-in, we were given a guided tour on the way to our room. Every space is charming and full of character, with little details that make you feel at home – log fire crackling in reception, and a cute owl hanging heavily off our room key. This 17th-century farmhouse has retained its rustic charm with crumbly limestone walls – in the Cotswolds’ trademark honey hue – and exposed beams, but has been sympathetically updated by Todhunter Earle. They’ve played fast and loose with the past – to great effect – adding bold 1950s-style wallpaper prints and fabrics, and a few well-chosen pieces of mid-century modern furniture.
Jazz music playing softly on the radio welcomed us into our room in the main house. The bed was so comfortable, it’s a wonder we did anything other than sleep. Thankfully a miniature jar of fresh milk in our fridge inspired us to perk up with a cup of tea, while admiring the view from our window over rolling, green fields. We’d barely unpacked before we’d donned our shawl-collared bathrobes from the gleaming ensuite to head down to the oh-so-pretty House Spa.
A beautiful space with a garden-view café and nail bar upstairs, there’s also a world of relaxation below. There’s a bubbly heated hydro pool on an outdoor terrace, and a glowing amethyst-hued indoor infinity pool flanked by huge, supremely soft sand-coloured sofa beds and glossy magazines begging to be lazily flicked through amid the tranquil atmosphere. Pick between the glass-walled lavender-infused pool-view sauna, and a Finnish junipery number; a sea-salty steamy hammam, and the tropical showers are as glamorous as places to sweat or splash can be. We already felt floaty and we hadn’t even had our couples massage yet… Warmly welcomed into a sprawling suite with heated couches, Mr Smith and I agreed this is what heaven must resemble.
After our treatments we glided down to dinner at the Garden Room. The statement on their Modern British menu is to serve the best food around, and after eating there I can confidently say, ‘mission accomplished’. Everything our charming waitress recommended was delicious. Then we planted ourselves on our bed and ordered a movie from the in-room tablet, which even has extra options such as popcorn and ice-cream delivered to your room along with the film. Feeling stuffed and indulged, we drifted off to sleep soundly.
Breakfast the next morning was just as much of a joy: eggs any way you like, freshly squeezed juices, so many cheeses from the surrounding farms. And presented with sweet hand-written tags here and there, in the light-filled dining room. Afternoon tea at the hotel’s own art-directed pub, the Potting Shed, was also a dream. Ingredients felt as though they’d properly travelled straight from field to fork. As loathe as we were to, we did break free from Dormy’s loving clutches to explore Farncombe Estate to admire the perfect country scene, with roaming deer and contented-looking Vale of Evesham lambs. (They obviously have yet to see the Potting Shed menu.)
A cache of chocolate-box villages lie within a half-hour drive of the hotel, and a stroll through the well-tended 400-acre estate offers the kind of Arcadian inspiration that the area’s eminent former residents – which include Beatrix Potter, Jane Austen and JRR Tolkien – must have felt while a wandering. Our aim for the perfect weekend away was well and truly achieved, and I have to thank the people, luxuries and atmosphere of Dormy House earning me huge girlfriend points. Quite honestly, it was rather hard to tear ourselves away at the end of our stay. We were made to feel so at home, it was a little bit like the feeling of fleeing the nest: you know you have to do it but it’s just so warm and cosy. Our consolation is knowing that we’ll be sure to return soon for some real ale in the Potting Shed or a meal of artfully prepared local produce in the Garden Room restaurant – at the very least.