Whether or not you have tired of the capital, why not get a break in “real” England? Only 100 miles/160km west of London is the Englishman’s own image of unspoilt England: the countryside and villages of the Cotswold Hills, the townscapes of Bath and Bristol, the stylishness of their stone buildings, and any number of prehistoric remains, and stately homes and gardens. A stay in Bath or the Cotswolds serves well for touring any of the places on this page.
Today’s visitors also like to trace the footsteps of Jane Austen, enjoy the splendid antique shops, relax in one of the luxurious hotels, bathe in the modern spa complex, or just shop and people-watch in the city with perhaps the highest standard of living outside London.
Use Bath as a centre to visit the nearby showpieces of classic unspoilt England, like Castle Combe with its stone roofscapes and wool trade heritage, or Lacock, the location of choice for many a period drama as well as Harry Potter films.
Wherever you go in the Cotswolds, you will hardly be out of view of honey coloured stone manor houses, and sheep: thanks to their wool, this was the most prosperous area of England in medieval times. Your guide may offer a circular tour of the northern area – perhaps Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden and Broadway, with the option of the Arts and Crafts garden of Hidcote, or even a foray to Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. A more southerly circuit could include Burford, made fashionable by Charles II and his horse racing companions; Bibury, so picturesque that Henry Ford wanted to take some of it to Michigan; and Tetbury with its antique shops, at the back door of the Prince of Wales’s estate.