Read our expert review of Pineapple Spa holiday cottage, Stow-on-the-Wold. With its quirky interiors, this unique Grade II listed holiday cottage set in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds has an open log fire, free-standing copper bath and a garden with views of the stunning countryside. This quiet and cosy holiday cottage makes for the perfect weekend away.
Our must-haves: log fire, roll-top bath, luxurious kitchen, garden with a view, quirky interiors and pubs within walking distance… quite the wish list, when it comes to hiring a holiday home.
Luckily, holidaycottages.co.uk caters to pernickety needs. The company’s filters are extensive and fun to play with – choose waterside views, on-site fishing, four-poster beds, an outdoor hot tub or even the option to stay on a working farm. Our own preferences brought up a dozen beautiful choices, the most enticing of which was a Grade II-listed, 200-year-old Cotswolds spa.
Pineapple Spa in Lower Swell, just outside Stow-on-the-Wold, is intriguing. Indian carvings mark its buttery stone exterior, and a pineapple motif sits above its arched doorway; there’s also a golden fir-cone on top of each upstairs window. Such an exotic building plonked in the most English of surroundings is hard to explain – we ponder the possibility that it was designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell, the architect who designed nearby Sezincote House, a Mogul Indian palace built in 1805.
As for the ‘quirky interiors’ we asked for, a trap door in the living room (covered by a glass partition) leads to a stone cellar and the spring that makes this the smallest spa in England. Guests can’t go down to it, but a string of colourful fairy lights illuminates the possibility. There’s also a pineapple-shaped stone font by the stairs (to which the water is pumped) and, continuing the fruity theme, pineapple tea cups, candle holders, key rings and cushions throughout… we counted more than 20 examples.
Stone walls, a sky-high chandelier, wood burner, posh sofas and a gilded mirror above an ornate fireplace complete the living room. A beautiful archway marks the beginning of a handcrafted kitchen to the left, and staircase to the right. The former is a vision of cream and white, with curved marble worktop surfaces, Belfast sink, classy oven range that looks as if it’s never been used, and a little dining table with views of a pretty landscaped garden – a garden separated only by chicken wire from miles of lush countryside and a flock of inquisitive sheep. Mugs of coffee in hand, we spent our mornings watching them watching us.
There are two bedrooms, both richly furnished and comfortable, and a stylish bathroom with reclaimed stand-alone bath made from shiny copper. Perfect for a long soak after a day exploring the Cotswolds, the best of which all seems to be within a 20-minute drive of Pineapple Spa. Highlights include Bourton-on-the-Water (excellent motoring museum and syrupy ‘petal’ cake from the Bakery on the Water, best eaten in its riverside garden); the Miss Marple-esque village of Lower Slaughter, where the meandering River Windrush leads you to The Old Mill museum, craft shop and waterfront cafe – try the homemade elderflower ice cream; and charming Stow-on-the-Wold, where we tried 10 different flavours of still-warm fudge from Roly’s Fudge Pantry (our favourite was whisky and ginger).
Lower Swell is also close to Daylesford Farm Shop and an abundance of pubs that serve good food, including The Porch House (read our review of it here). Another little gem we found along the way was Locojo’s pizzeria in Moreton, where the veggie feast pizza comes topped with fresh figs and goats cheese.
Or just stay in, enjoying the decadent peculiarity of a sleepover in a spa – and the pampering array of treats (croissants, cookies, coffee, red wine and fresh flowers among them) that owner, Rachel, leaves out for her guests.
Pineapple Spa sleeps four and costs from £689 for seven nights (holidaycottages.co.uk).
Words | Charlotte Morgan
Photographs | holidaycottages.co.uk