While in London for a quick two nights, we stayed at the Kensington Hotel and it was absolutely exceptional. The service was by far the best I've ever had at any hotel - every staff member at the hotel was phenomenal: friendly, knowledgeable and so very helpful. The hotel itself is gorgeous with beautiful dining rooms, a fun bar and lovely rooms. It's situated on a quaint block in Kensington (about a 15min walk to Kensington Palace). Our dining experiences for breakfast and dinner were wonderful and the bar had excellent service and a cozy atmosphere. The lobby area had a number of lovely seating areas for a quick cup of tea or coffee too.
The Kensington Hotel
The Kensington Hotel
The Kensington Hotel
Since we only had 2 days in London, we crammed in as much as possible without overwhelming ourselves. We visited Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace (the day before HRH Queen Elizabeth II passed away), The Churchill War Rooms, dinner at The Goring, shopping and champagne at Selfridges. Next up on the itinerary was Bath - so we caught the train to Bath at Paddington station.
Kensington Palace Gardens
Our first night we had dinner and drinks at The Kensington Hotel which was fabulous. Again, the staff at the Kensington are exceptional and created a wonderful atmosphere. The second night we splurged for a dinner at The Goring hotel and had the most divine beef wellington. The service was exceptional and the hotel itself is gorgeous - extremely picturesque. Below is a picture of the gorgeous bar area too which, before the night wound down, was completely
packed! We would have loved to do afternoon Tea while in London but ran out of time. Claridge's tea was on our list - maybe next time!
Selfridges champagne bar
The Goring hotel dining room
The Goring hotel bar
We stayed at the Bathen House the first two nights and then the Bath Spa Hotel the final night (because the Bathen House was booked up that evening). The Bathen House was a darling boutique hotel with a small staff of kind and helpful people. The rooms were absolutely beautiful.
For the final night, we stayed at The Bath Spa Hotel. It has grand exteriors, grounds, and patios... as well as a beautiful lobby and dining area. It was a convenient location as it was walking distance to town with all the shopping and dining. While our rooms were okay, we all agreed we wouldn't stay there next time and would recommend looking at other hotels with more updated rooms.
The Bathen House Hotel
The Bathen House hotel dining room
The Bathen House hotel sitting room
exploring the beautiful streets of Bath in the city centre
As huge Jane Austen fans, we did a Jane Austen Centre tour (self-guided). We had a wonderfully talented staff member playing the role of Mr. Willoughby for our tour introduction - just delightful! He also stayed in character whenever you'd bump into him on the self-guided tour which was so fun! They also have a tiny gift shop with the most adorable treasures. We also happened to be in town at the same time as the Jane Austen Festival and were absolutely delighted to get to watch the Promenade where people had dressed up in the loveliest regency clothing! We had no idea when we booked the tickets that it was during the festival, so we were beyond thrilled to find out it was at the same time!
We also explored areas where Persuasion (by Jane Austen) was located. Then a bit of exploring the great shopping in town.
The Royal Crescent (Persuasion fans can't miss it!)
Jane Austen Centre
shopping in the town centre
Sotto Sotto restaraunt
The Jane Austen Festival after the Promenade
We dined at the Bathen House where we were staying for our first evening. It was quaint and delicious all around with a small, lovely staff. We had just heard HRH Queen Elizabeth II had passed as we were sitting down for dinner and we bonded with our lovely waitress about the historic and sad news. The dining room was mostly filled with hotel guests as it's quite small and intimate.
The second night we dined at Sotto Sotto for a delicious Italian meal to celebrate my aunt's special birthday. The restaurant itself was recommended to us as a place locals enjoy going. Hidden inside candlelit vaulted cellars surrounded by bare stone walls, the restaurant staff and menu were wonderful.
If you're looking for great fish & chips and a cozy pub vibe, we enjoyed a casual dinner at The Salamander in town one of the nights. There were so many other places we wanted to try, but with such a short stay - we were only able to fit a few things in. We did end up having afternoon tea at the Bath Spa Hotel after we checked in for our final night. It was lovely but we would have liked to try somewhere else in town if time had allowed for it. We asked the concierge about a taxi from Bath to Bibury for our next stay and they kindly called up a taxi service and booked a pick up time for us for the following day after check out. Easy!
Bath Spa hotel for afternoon tea
Bath Spa hotel outdoor terrace
The Bath Spa hotel grounds & the Sea to Skye houndstooth tote in camel
We stayed at The Swan Hotel in Bibury. It was a lovely hotel, extremely picturesque with a small pub and indoor/outdoor dining options. With the weather nice enough, we enjoyed spending time out on the lovely patio sipping wine and enjoying the beautiful flowers. The hotel staff were lovely. Our rooms were exquisite and beautifully decorated. The dining was delicious but the restaurant/bar service was hit or miss, so depending on what you expect when you travel - this may be something to think about.
Bibury is also teeny tiny, which we loved but wouldn't necessarily be for everyone as a home base while in the Cotswolds. If you're looking for somewhere more central (or with more to do) to the other Cotswold villages, Bibury isn't necessarily the closest. We adored how quaint, small and quiet it was and the beauty of the famous and picturesque Arlington Row. Since we were there at the beginning of September, some of the tourist season had died down, although we noticed an uptick in small crowds on the weekend. But we did have to take a taxi at least 25-40 minutes to where we wanted to go and explore.
Since we didn't rent a car this trip, we ended up using the taxi services in the Cotswolds. We had the most amazing taxi driver on our first ride who we ended up booking for the rest of the weekend, including taking us to Heathrow on our last day. He had the greatest suggestions, was always on time and told the best stories! Because we were splitting the cost between the group of us, it wasn't horribly expensive to take a taxi a few times but there are certainly other ways to get around the Cotswolds, especially if you're comfortable renting a car.
The Swan Hotel
The Swan Hotel outdoor dining area
The Swan Hotel nook
We enjoyed walking around the small village of Bibury, exploring all the nooks and crannies of the walking trails and quaint neighborhoods. While we did not go to the Bibury Trout Farm (due to timing) we did explore the adorable gift shop connected to it (1 minute walk from the hotel). They had lovely treasures for gifts as well as wine, crackers and sweets for take away. The hotel concierge kindly booked a taxi for us to go exploring our first day. We explored Bourton-on-the-Water and Cirencester - both lovely villages with great shopping and dining. Our amazing taxi driver had recommended Cirencester as it was where he was from... and it did not disappoint! There were lovely shops, great restaurants and it was quaint yet had a lot to explore. We also did a self guided tour of Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. It was absolutely magnificent. There are also a couple cafes with snacks and lunch options as well as a more sit down restaurant. We ate at one of the cafe's to have a quick bite and sip of wine before heading to the beautiful gift shop filled with English treasures.
country walks in Bibury
country walks in Bibury
country walks in Bibury
Each morning, I'd grab a coffee at the adorable coffee shop about 4 minutes walking distance from the hotel. The Twig had great coffee and the baristas were super helpful with any tips about exploring the Cotswolds. We ate at the Swan Hotel for breakfast each day and also two times out on the patio for wine and charcuterie. We also ate at the hotel for dinner twice. The food was delicious and made it so easy to have this dining option whenever we got back to the hotel. We also had dinner at the only pub in town The Catherine Wheel for fish and chips one night (about a 6 minute walk from the hotel). If we had more time, we would have loved to explore other villages, restaurants and pubs!
The Swan hotel for dinner