Thyme is a family-owned estate situated in the village of Southrop, England in the Cotswolds. What began as a cookery school in 2001 has since developed into a unique village comprised of a hotel, cottages, farmhouses, an intimate spa, an outdoor pool, and a first-class restaurant. Appropriately described as “a village within a village,” Thyme sprawls across 150 acres of land for guests to explore. After being apart for six months, my boyfriend and I wanted a relaxing holiday where we could enjoy each other’s company, uninterrupted. We decided to spend two nights at Thyme, and it was an ideal place to unwind.
We arrived at the hotel on a breezy Wednesday afternoon and were immediately greeted by friendly staff members eager to welcome us to the estate. The grounds were decorated with adorable honey-colored buildings and stunning gardens that were perfectly manicured. On our way to reception, we passed a selection of unique cottages designated for hotel guests. We stayed at Ox East, one of the elegant double rooms of the hotel. Our room was spacious with an ensuite bathroom containing a large shower, the most luxurious standalone tub, and seating area. That said, all the bedrooms at Thyme are cozy, yet plush and feature tasteful color schemes. What I loved most about the hotel room was the thoughtful details provided by the staff. On our desk was a small woven basket with chocolate chip cookies and homemade vermouth with two soda waters. On our bed was a handwritten note welcoming us to the hotel. It was clear that every feature of Thyme was intentional and carefully chosen.
Pro tip: If you are booking a weekend with a larger party, you can rent out the farmhouse, which boasts eight beds, an open plan kitchen, indoor and outdoor dining, and a private garden.
The Ox Barn. Formerly a nineteenth-century oxen house, the Ox Bar has been transformed into a contemporary restaurant at the heart of Thyme. Old meets new in this rustic farmhouse that features high ceilings and exposed beams combined with a sleek, modern bar and an assortment of plush, vintage chairs. We snagged a spot on a herringbone-patterned couch in front of the fireplace and enjoyed a few appetizers and cocktails. The kitchen at the Ox Barn is headed up by Charlie Hibbert, the Thyme’s owners’ son. His food is remarkable, and the ingredients are almost exclusively grown in the kitchen garden. One of my favorite dishes featured at the Ox Barn was the Grilled Aubergine, Borlotti Beans and Sauce Vierge. This was the perfect autumn dish with rich flavors that burst in your mouth.
The Swan. The Swan at Southrop is an award-winning restaurant and pub located on the Southrop Estate. We did not have a chance to pop into The Swan as it is temporarily closed from COVID, but I would love the opportunity to dine here the next time we visit. From what the hotel staff told us, it is quintessentially English and has an impressive selection of Cotswold beers, lagers, and ales. The Swan team is dedicated to high-quality food, and the menu changes daily since ingredients are freshly grown from the restaurant’s garden.
Rent Bikes. Guests are encouraged to rent out bicycles that can be used to tour around the village. Each bike comes with a large woven basket that can be used to carry your purse or backpack or even a few food items if you are looking to have a picnic. My boyfriend and I drove our bikes a mile down the road to Victoria Arkell’s Pub for a pick me up and gorgeous views overlooking the neighboring town.
Get a Massage. The Meadow Spa is an idyllic haven of serenity located on the grounds. If you are looking to decompress, the Meadow Spa offers a variety of treatments designed to nurture tranquility and encourage guests to embrace the peace of country living. The spa partners with Aurelia Probiotic Skincare, which is used in every treatment and can be purchased in the cottage. My boyfriend and I scheduled massages upon arriving at Thyme and enjoyed them so much that we booked another session just before heading home! The masseuses are friendly, attentive, and careful to adhere to safe practice in light of COVID. After our massages, we took a dip in the heated outdoor pool, which uses natural spring water. The pool area was quiet and secluded and incredibly refreshing.
Borrow a Board Game. Next door to reception is an elegant bar area where guests can enjoy a pint of beer or glass of wine. This room also houses a large bookshelf filled with loaner books and board games that can be used by hotel guests. If you find yourself at Thyme on a rainy day, consider borrowing their scrabble board or chess set and have yourself a day of friendly competition.
Take a Floristry Class. If you have a green thumb, you may want to consider booking a floristry class with Thyme’s head florist, Sophie Witham. This class outlines the basic techniques for creating a stunning bouquet. Guests will be led to Thyme’s cutting gardens to select flowers to pick. After an hour and a half of floral fun, guests are invited to an afternoon tea of scones and finger sandwiches before taking their beautiful bouquets home.
Walk around. Thyme sprawls across 150 acres of land so there is plenty to explore. The property is absolutely stunning. We went for daily strolls around the estate and everywhere we turned was like something out of a magazine. Honey colored buildings with lavish gardens and sheep pastures are just some scenes you will find in Southrop. It felt so nice to soak up the great outdoors and marvel over the beautiful countryside.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Thyme is a remotely elegant countryside hotel set in the Cotswolds. With cozy interiors and flawlessly manicured gardens, Thyme is undoubtedly easy on the eyes. If you’re looking for a weekend retreat, this is the place to be. I certainly can’t wait to revisit!