By Katie Wilson
You might think you need a car for a weekend break in the Cotwolds, but did you know it’s really accessible by train?
The chocolate-box village of Kingham, near Chipping Norton, is just 1 hour and 25 minutes from London Paddington.
And as you long as you pre-book taxis the other end it’s a much hassle free and greener way to get around.
Taxi firms like Chipping Norton-based Excelsior are the best in the area and if you give them a heads up, they can even arrange bespoke tours of the Cotswolds based on your personal itinerary.
We checked into The Kingham Plough, an award-winning pub with rooms less than a 10-minute drive from the train station, to experience the Cotswolds for the first time without a car.
Not having to drive in the Cotswolds was an immediate joy as it meant we were able to pay more attention to the beautiful scenery.
En route to the hotel, the country roads were lined with trees in full bloom with autumn leaves. The burnt oranges, reds and yellows were magnified by the sun, making them look even more magical as we drove past.
As we turned into the village of Kingham, we saw the instantly recognisable Cotswolds stone of the houses. We’ve visited a fair few places in the Cotswolds but this is one of the prettiest – and now, we’ve discovered – most accessible by train.
Kingham is small. There is a church, a convenience store and two pubs, and that’s about it. But do you need more than that for a couple of nights away in the countryside? We don’t think so.
As we pulled up to The Kingham Plough, we felt we’d really landed in a postcard cut-out of the Cotswolds. It has all the countryside charm you expect, stone walls, wooden beams, roaring fires.
We loved the pretty outside area as you walk in, which has several outside tables with umbrellas which must be great in summer. There is also a covered spot with wicker sofas where you could sit for a coffee or mulled wine in the colder months.
The Kingham Plough has six en-suite rooms, each with their own individual style. All have a country feel, but the furnishings are modern. A couple are also dog friendly.
We stayed in room 5, which was up some stairs across from the main entrance. This made it a bit more private and meant we were not disturbed by any noise from the pub.
As we stepped inside we noticed there was a large doormat which cleverly extended into the room to ensure you have plenty of room to take off muddy boots after a long day walking.
The super-king size bed had a mountain of pillows on, as well as a cosy blanket from luxury wool brand Bronte. We loved the collection of books on the shelf underneath the window, which were fascinating to look through as some were over 100 years old.
In the bathroom we were greeted by a huge tub, which would be big enough for two, and an enormous shower cubicle. There was also underfloor heating, Bramley toiletries and white robes hanging on the back of the door.
Other thoughtful extras included bottled water and glasses on the bedside tables, a selection of luxury teas, coffee machine, kettle and homemade chocolate chip cookies, plus a TV on the wall.
FOOD AND DRINK
Later on in the evening we headed down to the cosy pub for dinner and were seated in the cutest nook we’ve ever seen, right next to the fire.
For people just popping in for a drink, there are bar stools and a mix of comfy armchairs or sofas to sink into. We particularly liked the detail on the walls all around the pub, which ranged from bowler hats to vintage tennis rackets.
The food menu changes monthly and is a mix of nibbles, starters, pub classics and mains. We kicked off with a bottle of house red and the Smoked Salmon Tartare and Truffle Honey Glazed Black Fig.
The smokiness of the salmon mixed with the saltiness of the capers and crunch of the sourdough croutons was a winner. I’m not usually a fan of blue cheese, but it was the perfect complement to the fig dish.
For mains, we tried the 24oz Aged Hereford T-Bone Steak for two (£70) which came with peppercorn sauce, watercress and double cooked chips, which were a bit special and very moreish.
The steak was huge, cooked well and definitely value for money, but despite our best efforts we couldn’t quite finish it.
After a rest and another glass of wine, we somehow found room for pudding and ordered the Basque Cheesecake with Blood Orange Sorbet (£7.50) and the Iced White Chocolate & Hazelnut Parfait with Hot Chocolate & Frangelico Sauce (£7). Make sure to order the latter if it’s on the menu when you visit.
A full English breakfast is also included in the price of each room.
We were surprised to find a bottle of fresh milk on the doorstep to go with our tea or coffee in the morning. The evening before, we saw the most stunning hazy pink sunset from the balcony outside our room, which was an unexpected treat.
THINGS TO DO
There are plenty of country walks right on your doorstep. Just ask the friendly staff for suggestions.
One of the best walks from The Kingham Plough is to Daylesford Organic farm shop, through a field if you bring your wellies or up the road. Make sure you only do this in daylight.
It takes around 20 minutes on foot and you’ll spot sheep and spectacular scenery along the way. If you’ve never been to Daylesford before, you have to pop in just to marvel at the extortionate prices of some of the products. We saw a jar of honey for £85!
You can also dine in the Michelin recommended eateries there. The Legbar is for drinks and nibbles, The Old Spot is casual dining and the Trough Cafe serves up candle-lit suppers. It’s also where you’ll find Bamford Wellness Spa if you fancy booking a treatment.
Back in the village, be wowed by the rows of picture-perfect cottages we wished we lived in, but can probably never afford. Even the Kingham Village Store is next level compared to any Londis we’ve ever visited.
While you’re there it would be rude not to pop into The Wild Rabbit, another pub in Kingham with rooms which is part of the Daylesford estate and looks especially pretty in spring and summer when the wisteria is out.
A little further afield – but only 20 minutes by car – is The Scenic Supper, a pop up in various Cotswolds locations offering fine dining set to the backdrop of stunning scenery. It’s not to be missed.
Everyone raves about The Wild Rabbit down the road, and we did pop in for a cocktail while we were there, but we found The Kingham Plough to be great quality in terms of the rooms and food. It’s slightly smaller, which gives it a cosier feel, and it’s way more affordable.
Rooms start from £145 a night, including breakfast
Getting there: Trains cost from £39pp for an open return on Great Western Railway
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