Getting in touch with my creative side at Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds

posted on: Tuesday, 3 December 2013


This morning I was pleased to help kick off Cheltenham fashion week in celebration of their second year on the fashion map. As my activities were planned for late morning, I was invited to come up the night before and experience an evening in the Cotswolds. Well, I must say I was looked after in the most fantastic manner. I stayed at Cowley Manor, a country house hotel situated on 55 acres of land in the Cotswolds.

It is widely known that Lewis Carroll regularly visited Cowley Manor and drew much inspiration for his most beloved creation, Alice In Wonderland, from his visits. In knowing this little tidbit of information, I was hoping to discover my inner creative. In my mind, I had planned long walks around the manor, tea by the fire with a notebook in hand and serious soaks in oversized ancient bathtubs. And for the first time ever, I did everything I said I would, only there was a tiny twist.

Before arriving, I had only seen pictures of the manor house itself, nothing else. I had pictured huge roaring fires, oversized worn leather sofas and dark wood absolutely everywhere. Maybe there would be classical music playing and men dressed like Downton Abbey servants greeting us at the door. Ok, let's not beat around the bush, I was expecting everything Downton Abbey-like. What I discovered was more Soho House than Downton Abbey

Don't get me wrong here, I don't say that with disappointment. It's just that I had one picture in my head and when I walked through the door I was met with a different set of images completely. Cowley Manor is hip, chic and totally 2013- a modern day millionaire's old English playground. From the outside, it's all tradition. Walk through the front door of Cowley Manor and you're met with stylish contemporary decor, casually dressed staff who radiate warmth and room after room of amusements. There is no time to be bored here are Cowley Manor. Whether you'd like to play a game of billiards, watch movies with friends, dine in the restaurant or chill-out in the bar areas, this is a social butterfly's heaven.

I, however, was alone in my adventure at Cowley Manor. But, as planned, I took the time to enjoy my surroundings. The night kicked off with a comfy contemporary leather chair and a stunning view over the lake on the grounds. I brought my journal and wrote as I savored two glasses of beautifully selected white wine. The wine then led to some rather devastating decisions involving a burger. Not that the burger was devastating. In fact, it was anything but. This burger was heaven sent. The only devastation caused is to my waistline.

For the first time in four years, I managed to get to bed at a decent hour and I slept like a baby in the silence of the countryside. The next morning was pre-planned. I was going out to discover Alice in Wonderland. I wanted to see, first hand, what Carroll had seen so many years ago. Would I find the hole which inspired Alice's story? Or would I trip upon a mini tea party in the forest? Well, neither presented themselves on my morning stroll the next day. However, after throwing on a pair of the hotel wellies and wading through more mud than I have ever seen in London before (loved every minute of it), I saw so much more than I had expected. At 7am, it was just me and the beautiful grounds of Cowley. The waterfalls around the property were the only noises to be heard, apart from frightened ducks flying away as I passed parts of the lake and river. 

By the time I went to check out, it seemed I had also mentally checked out, of London life that is. The chill factor here is intense. My only regret? Not being able to visit the spa. They have a heated indoor and outdoor pool, amazing treatments and much more. I also hear the Cowley Manor shop is second to none. Bottom line here... I'm coming back and with Mr. FFG in tow. {Cowley Manor}