Once upon a time, a rector and his 14 children had the original rectory all to themselves – these days, we can all rock up to The Rectory Hotel (praise be). Items worth giving thanks for include: the romantic rooms with their field-and-village views, the excellent restaurant, the al fresco pool and the thoughtful extras, from the relaxed service to the just-baked cakes. Of course, the Cotswolds countryside (and its snug-as-a-bug pubs) isn’t half bad, either…
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A full-size hand cream from the Bramley bath products array
11am; earliest check-in, 3pm. (Both are flexible, subject to availability.)
Double rooms from £450.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates usually include a generous buffet breakfast featuring home-made granola, muesli, toast, cereals, fruit salad, crème fraîche, yoghurts and the ilk. If you’re still hungry for more, order from the a la carte menu (options are £12.50 each).
The hotel’s restaurant gets booked up in advance; to avoid tantrums, arrange your own table asap. (The same goes for the Rectory Hotel’s sister property, the Potting Shed Pub.) Rooms are stocked with tea, coffee, fresh milk and home-made shortbread.
At the hotel
Walled grounds; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, marshmallow-soft bathrobes, Bramley bath products, tea- and coffee-making kit, fresh milk, home-made biscuits. Some rooms also have a retro Roberts Radio.
Our favourite rooms
Thanks to the historic building and its characterful irregularities, each of the Rectory’s rooms differs in shape and feel. Room 11 is particularly lovely, thanks to its top-floor perch and garden views. The roll-top bath tub in the bedroom and the village views through the large sash windows are the icing on the (Victoria sponge) cake. Make the most of the bathroom’s stash of muscle-wooing lavender bath salts while you’re here…
In the summer months, expect to while away a lot of time in the outdoor heated pool, which is equipped with an honesty bar and a telephone for ad-hoc guest requests.
Accessorise with a dog: it will complete your country-casual look. If you’re not a fan of man’s best friend or don’t have easy access to a hound (we’re not suggesting you steal one), bring a couple of good reads, some cosy cashmere and a spiffing British cologne: a Penhaligon’s elixir, perhaps.
The communal areas on the ground floor are suited to wheelchair-users; that said, there are no wheelchair-friendly toilets.
This hotel is designed for grown-ups, but well-behaved little ’uns can come too, as long as they’re supervised. Extra beds can only be added to some rooms, so ask at time of booking if you're bringing little Smiths along.
The restaurant’s Glasshouse conservatory is a winsome setting for meals: by day, it’s lavished with natural light; by night, it flickers with candles.
Slippers and a smile at breakfast; something a little more formal for dinner.
Traditional but unstuffy – and decidedly delicious – British fare is served in the laid-back restaurant: sink your teeth into beef Wellington, wild-boar steak, local crayfish, clams with seaweed butter, Florentine doughnuts or dark-chocolate marquise with candied hazelnuts, for example. A cheese trolley adds a pleasingly theatrical flourish.
The bottle-green bar with its snug corners and inviting velvet sofas is definitely designed for convivial lounging. There’s an impeccable gin and wine selection and a cocktail list that ticks off all the classics (you could also try a local ale or cider). If you’re peckish, order from the restaurant menu, or nibble on olives, nuts and bar snacks.
The bar has a 24-hour license. Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 10.30am, lunch from noon until 2.30pm, and dinner between 6pm and 10pm. In summer months, food is also served outside from noon until 10pm.
A full menu is available during restaurant hours, but the kitchen can usually magic up a sandwich, salad or omelette if you’re peckish at peculiar times.
The Rectory Hotel is nestled between Malmesbury and Cirencester, in the Cotswolds-pretty village of Crudwell, which dates back to the Domesday Book.
Bristol Airport is a 70-minute drive away; London Heathrow is an hour and a half from the hotel by car. (Let Smith24 sort your flights and transfers.)
Kemble station is three miles from the hotel. It takes around 70 minutes to get here from London Paddington (www.gwr.com).
The hotel is a 10-minute drive from the town of Cirencester; the hotel has plenty of on-site parking space.
Use the lawn as your helipad if you wish to arrive in style.
Worth getting out of bed for
Post-breakfast at the Rectory, go for a ramble in the grounds and seek out the Grade II-listed dovecote, which dates back to the 13th century. Next, pootle around the dinky village of Crudwell, admiring All Saints Church and the village’s historic architecture. Back at the hotel, borrow a magazine and snuggle up by the fire with a slice of just-baked cake. Try horse riding and clay-pigeon shooting near the hotel (obliging staff can arrange either). Sample the region’s bountiful produce at the Stroud Farmers' Market. Browse antiques at Lorfords Antique Emporium in Tetbury or roam around Stow-on-the-Wold: the Cotswolds' epicentre for antiques. (Perusing the shops of Burford, Cirencester and Moreton-in-Marsh is just as enjoyable.) Westonbirt Arboretum has one of the world’s most spectacular tree collections. You can happily spend a day kicking up leaves and gazing at the staggeringly tall redwoods. Take a picnic – and binoculars for some top twitching. Malmesbury Abbey is the oldest abbey in England; ambling around the town there is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Go for a helicopter ride or aerobatic flight at nearby Kemble airfield, or try your hand at piloting a light aircraft.
Adjacent to Malmesbury’s mediaeval abbey, Wisteria-covered 13th-century inn The Old Bell has an elegant Edwardian restaurant with a classic Anglo-French menu. There are outside tables in summer, but on busy weekends you’ll need a reservation for the dining room. If you like the idea of thin-crust pizzas cooked to nonno’s standards, try The Birdcage, also in Malmesbury. The Wild Duck Inn is a lovely old pub in Ewen, with real ales, good food and an attractive, tree-shaded courtyard. Also nearby, in Tetbury, Calcot Manor has two restaurants: book dinner for truly fine dining in the Conservatory, or drop in on its gastropub the Gumstool Inn on your way home from Westonbirt Arboretum. A few miles east of Malmesbury, Whatley Manor also has two excellent eateries: splash out one of the French tasting menus in the Dining Room, or have a relaxed Sunday lunch at Le Mazot, an informal brasserie.
The Potting Shed Pub (01666 577833) is across the common right here in Crudwell, and is the sister pub to the Rectory; here you can enjoy an exuberantly British menu of seasonal produce such as honey-glazed roast rabbit in Farrow & Ball’d surroundings.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this ravishing hotel in Crudwell and unpacked their cider and shortbread, a full account of their British country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Rectory Hotel in Crudwell…
In another life, the Rectory Hotel was a home for the parish rector and his 14 – that’s right, 14 – children. You can’t help thinking that they had a helping hand in accessing saintly feelings, given their celestial surroundings: this honey-hued country home set in handsome walled gardens. Crudwell, the Rectory’s village, has all the requisite rustic charm that you’d expect from its prime Cotswolds postcode, including a historic church that backs onto the hotel’s grounds (look out for its original baptismal font, reimagined as a water feature in the grounds). Hallelujahs also go to the friendly, relaxed staff and the excellent chef, who turns out irreproachable clams with seaweed butter, wild-boar steak and other delicious morsels, best enjoyed in the pretty conservatory. Add in G&Ts, just-baked cake, rural rambles and cosy spots by the fire, and you’ve all the ingredients for an irreproachably great British mini-break…