Looking for places to stay in the Cotswolds? Want a country retreat? Read our hotel review, and check out more places to stay in the Cotswolds here…
Thyme in a nutshell
Describing itself as a ‘village within a village’ Thyme is a family-run operation in the pretty Cotswolds village of Southrop that encompasses a 31-bedroom hotel, a spa, cookery school and a village pub.
It’s a chic place where worries are exchanged for wellies at the front door. Expect plush 1960s-style armchairs, herringbone-patterned couches huddled around a fireplace, and decorative touches such as vintage chandeliers and glass jars filled with fresh flowers. Lounge in the old lambing shed with a slice of homemade quince cake or, come evening, a sheep-related nightcap – try a Shaun, made from rhubarb-infused black ginger rum with salted caramel, egg and nutmeg. Dip your feet into the spring-water pool, or hop on a bicycle and explore the surrounding villages.
Which room should I book at Thyme?
Bedrooms are spread across Southrop, with some in the main lodge itself, some in a farmhouse and some in separate cottages. They range in grandeur from Cosy to Divine with each one named after a flower or plant – a green-fingered theme that the interiors also reflect. Design-wise, it’s refined country glamour. So velvet scalloped headboards, furry rugs, botanical wallpaper and, in some cases, free-standing baths with views across the fields.
Turndown service is exemplary and includes a homemade liqueur (crab apple on our visit) in a dinky bottle to sip before bedtime. For a more private stay, book one of the five modern garden rooms; each has its own secluded outdoor space and king-size bed. Like all the other rooms they have been individually designed by Thyme’s founder, Caryn Hibbert.
The food and drink
Choose between The Swan (the village pub), The Baa cocktail bar or The Ox Barn. The latter, a former oxen house with striking archways and exposed beams, serves seasonal British dishes that make the most of a kitchen garden and eggs laid by Thyme’s own chickens. Try wads of sourdough with chunks of homemade butter, a sharing salad of smoky artichokes and silky slices of fatty pork, or green leaves tossed with crisp slithers of yakon, nuggets of hazelnut and sweet dollops of quince jelly that break through the salty, creamy chunks of Stichelton perched on top. For dessert, a hefty slice of almond and crab apple tart is all chewy frangipane and buttery pastry.
Go all out with shots of rich homemade kefir, lusciously creamy yogurt with poached orchard fruits, and hot plates of buttery smoked trout with poached eggs and chard.
What else can foodies do?
The on-site cookery school runs classes throughout the year, so try your hand at Indian vegan recipes; cocktails, cordials and infusions, or rustic Italian feasts. There’s also a kitchen garden to admire, and a tranquil spa that uses natural ingredients in its treatments. Pick a healing therapy tailored to how you’d like to feel – clarity of thought, perhaps, or peacefulness.
Is it family friendly?
While children under the age of 12 are welcome in the Old Walls village cottage, the serene vibe and luxury touches give Thyme a more grown-up feel.
Instead of mini bars there’s a help-yourself communal area, so pop down before dinner to snaffle a pre-bottled old fashioned or Thyme vespa. In the afternoon, you’ll find freshly baked cakes.
Words by Ellie Edwards
Photos by Thyme