Thyme has got to be one of the most wholesome places to stay in the Cotswolds, and after visiting a few years back, I jumped at the chance to be invited back to check out the new restaurant, Ox Barn. The epitome of an English countryside staycation, Thyme is cosy and homely, hidden away in the little hamlet of Southrop, and it really feels like every detail has been thoroughly thought out. The on-site farm and kitchen gardens have always been at the heart of the property, and a farm-to-table ethos has been a focus from the get-go. It was much the case when I visited the cookery school a few years ago and they’ve been able to really build on this with the new restaurant. Ox Barn is headed up by chef, Charlie Hibbert, who embraces farm-based and plant-inspired menus. I arrived late after taking the train from London after work (so easy and quick!) and joined our group dinner, which started with vodka aperitifs, which used freshly picked seasonal garnishes, and pumpkin and sage crudités, again, picked from the garden that morning. The restaurant is beautiful, set in a converted 19th-Century oxen house, and with a grand open kitchen so you get to see everything that’s going on. Our meal was brilliant: a perfectly cooked fillet of monkfish was served with buttery garden veg, followed by a rich and creamy, not-for-sharing crème brûlée.
Thyme has expanded quite a lot in recent years, adding The Lodge, which houses a handful individually designed bedrooms, in addition to rooms in The Courtyard, The Farmhouse, two cottages which offer a more independent experience, and five more garden rooms coming soon. There’s also a gorgeous little Meadow Spa hidden away in the gardens, and the brilliant cookery school too, which is great fun and supports the idea of thoughtful sourcing of ingredients.
This time, I stayed in The Lodge, in a beautiful mustard-coloured room called Angelica (all of the rooms are named after herbs). My super-king bed had a grand upholstered headboard, a plethora of plush of pillows, and pretty patterned linen. The bathroom has a walk-in shower, his and hers basins, and fluffy big bathrobes. But the highlight had to be my clawfoot bathtub at the end of the bed. Bliss. Morning bubble baths are the ultimate luxury are they not, somehow even more sumptuous when they aren’t in the bathroom! The other thing Thyme does brilliantly is the bedtime routine. When you get back to your room after an after-dinner drink in cosy Baa Bar (go for a Moscow Mule muddled with homemade marmalade) there’s a hot water bottle tucked into your bed and a dinky little vodka nightcap waiting for you on your bedside. It looks like a little Alice in Wonderland-style potion and it’s the cutest little touch.
It’s impossible to resist a little pre-breakfast bath with a coffee and a newspaper, but once you make it down to Ox Barn for brekkie, you can order eggs and other classic English breakfast options, or tuck into the light buffet spread of pastries, yoghurt, poached fruits and homemade granola. All very delicious, the locally-smoked salmon particularly so!
Wholesome and luxurious, I struggle to imagine anyone has a less than perfect trip to Thyme...
THYME, RATES FROM £300/NIGHT