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By Ellen Manning

When it comes to rest and relaxation, the Cotswolds pretty much ticks every box. Chocolate box villages, gorgeous views and plenty of walks, not to mention the cosy pubs, nice restaurants, and history in abundance.

This House in Amberley pretty much has all of this right on its doorstep, with the bonus of it being a haven of peace and tranquility within its four historic walls.

Perched imposingly on top of the hill, the exterior of the three-storey house is pretty impressive, but not a patch on the artistic dreamland sisters Katie and Tash, and their parents Carol and Simon, have created inside.

The Boutique Handbook’s writer Ellen Manning, founder of Eat with Ellen food and travel blog, checked it out for a cosy, dog-friendly stay with her two pooches.

This House Review

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

From the minute you open the metal gate and take a few steps to the porch, complete with bench outside where you can soak up views over nearby Woodchester Valley Vineyard, you’ll find yourself exhaling as the calmness of This House washes over you.

Inside every single detail has been thought through. From free wood for the log burner to dog towels and treats for your furry friends. Downstairs is a lounge to cuddle up in, along with a beautifully-equipped kitchen and dining area, with everything from cocktail shaker to cafetière and a box of treats from the Amberley Village shop.

The practical stuff is great, but it’s the passion and soul the family have poured into the house that will capture your heart. Adorned with art, much of which is the product of a creative residency the owners run to support upcoming and established creatives in need of space and time to develop their practice. It’s an initiative that doesn’t just reflect their own passion, but the love of creativity that is common in this area, proven by a wander round nearby Stroud or Minchinhampton.

You don’t have to be an art lover to find the attention to detail and effort that’s been put in to blend home-from-home with luxury accommodation captivating. I find myself wandering from room to room soaking it up, yet still noticing a new detail each time I walk into that space.

THE ROOMS

It takes talent and skill to create a space that is homely and relaxing, yet has the feeling of a boutique hotel. The master bedroom oozes calm and class, its subtle tones of cream and white bringing Scandi vibes galore.

Turn the corner and gasp at the rolltop bath in the adjoining dressing area, overlooked by an original fresco mural painted by owner Katie Johnston. Everything has been thought of, from the white robes to the cotton bedding, bath salts and candles, and toiletries in the shower cubicle complete with its own rainfall shower.

It feels like it can’t get better, but upstairs again takes you to the second double bedroom which has the same calm feeling, plus even better views across the Woodchester Valley thanks to its extra elevation. The bathroom on the same floor doesn’t have the delights of the bath downstairs, but has its own shower, shared by the third bedroom. While snug, it has everything you’d need if you’re taking more people.

FOOD AND DRINK

This House might feel like a hotel, but of course it’s not, so there’s no restaurant downstairs for you to order dinner, or a breakfast buffet if that’s your kind of thing. And I’d suggest you don’t really need any of that when you have great Cotswold produce and eateries on your doorstep, some of which is left waiting for you when you arrive.

The owners helpfully left out everything I needed to make for a slap-up brekkie, from a loaf of locally-baked sourdough and a pat of proper butter to enjoy with it (left in the butter dish I might add to ensure ideal spreadability), to freshly-laid eggs, homemade granola and some milk in the fridge. There’s coffee for the cafetière, a plethora of different teas and a bottle of Woodchester wine.

The Amberley Village Shop is literally a few minutes’ walk down the road, and proved to be a treasure trove of ingredients, so I could cook up a storm for dinner. If you don’t want to cook, it’s got an adjoining café  serving everything from homemade cakes to soup. And for evening meals or a drink, the Amberley Inn pub is even closer to home. As I explore the area, it proves to be perfect for food and drink, with more options than I could even consider for a short break, but enough to have me already planning a return trip.

THE LOCAL AREA

The temptation when staying at This House is to curl up and never leave, luxuriating in its calming feel and well thought-out space, not to mention the unique way the light seems to hit it as the sun sets, or the glorious views from virtually all of its windows.

But thanks to its location near Stroud and its five valleys, it’s equally tempting to get out and explore. From a long walk on Minchinhampton Common straight from the back door to a mooch around the village, they’re just a starting point for an adventure in the local area.

Stroud was key during the industrial revolution and while its heyday of being vital to the wool industry may have passed, it’s now an arty town home to a thriving creative scene, not to mention pretty buildings, plenty of history, and lots to do. If that’s too much for you or you want a different scene, choose from the market town of Minchinhampton, Tetbury or even Nailsworth. The area has it all, whether it’s peace, quiet and space you crave, or a bit of a buzz.

EXTRAS

Extras seem to be at the heart of the identity of This House, with so many little touches making it the joyful place that it is. Robes, bath salts, provisions, toiletries, fire wood, dog treats. The list goes on, and shows the care behind this place. They say the devil is in the detail, and here it’s the detail that also brings delight.

This House feels like a space for slowing down. Sit and feel the sun on your face in the terraced garden. Perch on the bench at the front of the house with a coffee or glass of wine and enjoy a glorious sunset or misty morning. Wander a few steps to the village shop and cafe for provisions, venture to a local pub or walk miles around the common just a stone’s throw from the front door.

On top of that, the unique creative residency program not only actually helps people, but ensures that guests at This House are treated to a one-of-a-kind backdrop as they relax on their Cotswolds break.

OVERALL VERDICT

This House is far from a bog standard holiday cottage, and somehow brings boutique hotel vibes to the charming Cotswolds. It’s the kind of place that captures your heart and doesn’t let it go.

Prices start from £250 a night

Book a stay at This House here

Photos courtesy of photographer Holly Farrier

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