Bruern Holiday Cottages are the perfect place to spend a winter weekend curled up by the fire, discovers Victoria Marston.

When I was invited to spend a weekend at luxury self-catering Bruern Holiday Cottages, I was full of grand plans for exploring the local countryside. Located just half an hour from Chipping Norton, it’s the perfect base for visiting Cotswolds hotspots such as Soho Farmhouse and Daylesford.

However, the moment I opened the sage-green front door to Wychwood cottage and saw its farmhouse-style kitchen, the table set for tea and bearing a lemon-drizzle cake, I knew it would be a struggle to leave. With a fridge bursting with complimentary local sausages, bacon, cheese and Champagne plus appointments for a massage and facial at the discreet onsite spa, I barely did.

Bruern Cottages

With a clutch of them set in a splendid horseshoe of honey-coloured stone around a manicured lawn, the cottages are the former stables, hayloft, bothy and mill to Bruern Abbey, located just across the lane.

Each has its own style and character, ranging from one bedroom all the way up to five, but they are all equally cosy and homely, with club fenders, four-poster beds, marble butcher’s blocks, velvet armchairs and snazzy wallpaper galore.

Bruern Cottages

This is the place to play ‘maybe I’ll abandon my real life and set up home in an idyllic countryside cottage’. If you already live in an idyllic countryside cottage, well — you’ll feel right at home.

Within half an hour of arrival, I had a fire roaring in the hearth and was curled up in an armchair with a glass of fizz and a book from the well-stocked shelf. And it was utter bliss.

From £587 for a one-bedroom cottage for two nights. Book at www.bruern-holiday-cottages.co.uk or on 01993 830415.

Bruern Cottages

Food and drink

The cottages are self-catering, but if you’re looking for a nice spot in the local area, we can recommend The Bull Inn at Charlbury – it’s one of those places that’s perfect for warming cold hands by the fire and settling down to a slap-up meal.

There are limited tables, so be sure to book — I didn’t, but the obliging staff managed to fit me in and provide a feast of warm camembert, chicken pie and sticky-toffee pudding.

Places to go

  • No self-respecting Country Life reader could resist a trip to Daylesford. I indulged in a lunch of crab tart and venison-and-mushroom pappardelle followed by a wander round the sparkling Christmas shop. I also spent an indecent amount of time loitering in the cheese room.
  • Take a turn round picturesque Chipping Norton, which has charming pubs and quirky shops. I spent a good hour perusing the eclectic offering in Mash Lifestyle on the high street and left with a bronze wild boar. Because why not?

Quaint shops in the old Cotswold town centre in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire,

  • Get the right taxi and you too could take an inadvertent ‘homes of the stars’ tour – my driver enthusiastically shared his knowledge of local celebrities. I now know where to find Amanda Holden, David Cameron and David Beckham, should I ever need to.

Top tips

  • You’re perfectly welcome to arrive outside office hours, as I did — each cottage has its own mini key safe outside the front door for this very purpose. However, with multiple driveways, I suspect that locating the correct cottage for the first time is far easier in daylight.
  • Ask the office if you need any advice on the area. I particularly wanted to see some fireworks, as my stay coincided with Bonfire Night, and they were quick to recommend a wonderful display at nearby Charlbury Cricket Club.
  • The cottages are perfect for families, with a play cabin, climbing frame, Wendy house and indoor heated swimming pool.

Bruern Cottages

  • Explore the magnificent gardens, which include a walled garden, a 12ft by 120ft Long Border and a glorious tunnel of wisteria. Each cottage has its own pretty outdoor terrace and barbecue; some even have a private garden.