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The Cotswolds represent the very best of British: rolling hills and glorious countryside, thatched cottages, babbling brooks and perfectly manicured village greens across Britain's largest designated area of natural beauty. A family short break here promises fun and relaxation for everyone, with the emphasis on quality, style and sophistication.
The Dormy House Hotel (01386 852711, doubles from £255) is an excellent choice for a short break. Located just a few minutes from the picture-perfect Cotswold village of Broadway, it's a beautifully restored 17th century farmhouse featuring a line-up of individually designed rooms and suites. The brand new spa boasts an infinity pool, lavender infusion sauna, a ‘Suite of Treats' and the Greenhouse for relaxing with a glass of something after a treatment.
Food is a highlight of any stay at the Dormy House. Reserve a table in the Garden Room restaurant, where the emphasis is on superb dishes of seasonal country food, using suppliers known personally to the hotel. Or try the Potting Shed's take on classic family pub grub, with favourites such as slow cooked pork belly or fish and chips.
Situated right next door to The Dormy House is the Broadway Golf Club, a private members' club where the Hotel can book you a round of 18 holes from £40 (or £25 for nine). You can also order picnic hampers from the kitchens of The Dormy House, each packed with tasty local charcuterie, pastries, cakes and biscuits.
Listen for the gentle tick of the grandfather clock as you walk through stone arches into the foyer of The Greenway Hotel (01242 862352, rooms from £249), on the outskirts of Cheltenham. Book a treatment of two in the stunning spa, with its stylish treatment rooms and hydroptherapy pool. Or book a round of golf at the Cotswolds Hills Club, one of Gloucestershire's premier courses.
On the southern side of the Cotswolds, just on the outskirts of Bath, is the five star Manor House in Castle Combe (01249 782206, doubles from £215 including breakfast). There are 48 individually designed bedrooms, many featuring four-poster beds, roll top, whirlpool and infinity baths. The Michelin-starred Bybrook Restaurant takes its name from the river running through the hotel grounds. Here executive chef Robert Potter creates a fabulous seven-course tasting menu (£78) as well as a la carte dishes that pay homage to fabulous local produce. Sunday lunch at the Manor House (£35 a head) is a perfect weekend treat.
If you're looking for a perfect weekend hideaway, then Barnsley House (01285 740000, room from £200) should be near the top of your list. Located near Cirencester, it boasts a dedicated spa, a private cinema and even its own ‘Village Pub' serving delicious food and great beer in front of open fires. Head chef Francesco Volgo presides over the Potager Restaurant, where you can expect partridge, lamb and venison on the menu, accompanied by vegetables grown in Barnsley House's own kitchen garden.
The five-star Ellenborough Park (01242 802917) is another fabulous Cotswold manor house hotel, located just outside Cheltenham. Parts of the property date back to the 15th century, and there's lots of colourful history to absorb from its earlier years. Executive chef David Kelman is known across the region for his championing of the Cotswold larder in his menus. Ellenborough Park is also a great base for a fun-packed weekend; head to Cheltenham Races, book some shooting tuition on site, or enjoy a genteel tour of the nearby Snowshill Manor and Garden.
Top choice for pure indulgence (not to mention the fabulous dining) must be Whatley Manor (01666 822888, gourmet one night break for two from £520). Its spa offers salt scrub showers, thermal cabins, a ‘wave dream' sensory room and an outdoor heated hydrotherapy pool. Carol Osborne, Whatley Manor's Aquarias Spa Manager, can advise on the benefits of Caviar Firming, different body massages, and revitalising of cranial pressure points. There is also an element of West meets Ancient East in the treatments; that theme crops up inside the main house too.
The seven-seat BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is the perfect vehicle for a family weekend in the Cotswolds. Move the middle bench of seats forward or backward to get legroom just right for everyone, whilst still ensuring there's room for golf clubs and picnic hampers in the boot.
To win your own luxury family weekend in the Cotswolds with the use of a BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer for the duration, click here.
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