Rent yourself a little pocket of perfection this festive season.

It was Nancy Meyer’s 2006 movie, The Holiday, that first raised the bar for cottage rentals across the Cotswolds. (If, by some miracle, you haven’t seen it, this is just the moment to do so.) Ever since, discerning mini-breakers have felt that unless their rental is as exquisite as the film’s fictional Rosehill Cottage, it isn’t worth staying in.

Then came the opening of Soho Farmhouse, Soho House & Co’s immaculate Cotswold outpost, in 2015. The launch of the super stylish rural members’ club and hotel stoked Cotswold mania further.

As a result, people flock in their droves to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that lies across the boundaries of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire and parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. And they want beautifully decorated, bucolic bliss when they get there.

The good news is that owners and rental companies have responded to demand, offering the very finest honey-coloured homes throughout this staggeringly desirable area.

Christmas in the Cotswolds? These sites will get that wrapped up for you.

LUXURY COTSWOLD RENTALS


A visit to this site is as good as a lingering flick through a glossy magazine. You get so distracted by the glorious images of the houses and the lifestyle you’ll enact in them, you forget to focus on which one to rent. And you are spoiled for choice. From classic Cotswold cottages to country houses, manors and mansions, there is something special to suit every whim. Best of all, perhaps, is the company’s unique concierge service. Once you book with Luxury Cotswold Rentals, you have access to a unique app that guides you to the finest restaurants and shops, most convenient transport links and a host of enchanting experiences.

DAYLESFORD COTTAGES


Daylesford, in the heart of the Cotswolds, is one of the most sustainable organic farms in the country. Its glorious Gloucestershire farmshop is a haven of charming consumerism (as are its London stores). As well as possessing exquisite taste, founder Carole Bamford ‘believes in sustainable and holistic living. Her passion for organic farming, natural clothing and well-considered beauty products has made her an influential champion of craftsmanship, traditional skills and natural living.’ With their exposed brick, open fires and generous, thick linens, the five rental cottages on the Daylesford estate are completely in line with Bamford’s dreamy philosophy.

BIBURY FARM


In 2017, George and Polly Phillips started the process of converting a farmstead of ancient stone barns into luxury accommodation fit for today’s fast-paced world. The result? Five carefully designed barns that offer total comfort in this beautiful part of the country. They can be booked individually or taken together and are just the ticket for festive family gatherings.

COTSWOLD HIDEAWAYS


Cotswold Hideaways may be a newcomer to the area’s lettings market (it launched in 2018), but it sure knows its business. A sister company to Rural Retreats and Norfolk Hideaways, it is manned by a team with a combined 35 years of experience in holiday lettings. Each of the properties on its books has been carefully chosen for its character, its beautifully restored interior and its stunning location – by people who are truly familiar with the Cotswolds. Check out these boltholes ASAP. While you are at it, have a look at the website’s imaginative “Cotswolds Guide”, which is as good as any you will find.

SOHO FARMHOUSE


In addition to its mind-blowingly beautiful spa, shops, restaurants, stables, cinema and
guest cabins, Soho Farmhouse offers the rental of a seven-bedroom farmhouse and four-bedroom cottage. They are the dream. If these exclusive properties are available, in your budget and – crucially – you are lucky enough to have a Soho House member in your party, book one or the other immediately. Set in 100 perfect acres, nowhere serves up a better curation of Cotswold life than Soho Farmhouse.

AIRBNB


Founded 11 years ago in San Francisco, Airbnb started as a way for cash-strapped homeowners to rent out their spare rooms. By March 2009, the site had expanded to offer whole homes for short lets. Now, two million people stay in an Airbnb property each night. The good folk of the Cotswolds aren’t immune to the benefits of the Airbnb arrangement. It currently has over 300 properties in the area on its books. You can, perhaps, expect fewer frills than through other lettings websites – but the value for money should make up for it.

THE LANDMARK TRUST


The Landmark Trust is a charity whose function is to rescue old buildings that would otherwise be lost. They say: ‘Though they range from the sober to the spectacular, all our buildings are rich in history and atmosphere. They include picturesque pavilions and medieval long-houses, artillery forts and Gothick follies, clan chiefs’ castles, the homes of great writers and the creations of great architects.’ On offer in the Cotswolds is a Banqueting House, a stocking weaver’s cottage and the gatehouse of an abbey. You won’t find wifi or television at these properties, though. However, you will find extreme comfort in unusual surroundings.

BOUTIQUE RETREATS


This website of this special lettings company is as pretty as the seven Cotswold gems on its books, which makes hunting for a holiday home a pleasure. Bridging the gap between the boutique hotel experience and the holiday cottage experience, Boutique Retreats provides a highly personalised service. It can arrange a chef for your property, book treatments, make restaurant reservations and probably even decorate a Christmas tree for your arrival if you wish.

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By Becky Ladenburg
November 2019