You know how sometimes life is feeling a bit like too much hard work, and you really just need a couple of days to take some deep breaths and have a break from home? I’ve felt like this for the last few months, and so our weekend at Bruern Cottages in the Cotswolds could not come soon enough.
Sometimes with a mini-break you go away and it’s nice but also you feel like you could have had the same experience just having a bit of a tidy up at home and watching a film.
Bruern Cottages was NOT like this.
There are a few standalone cottages in the grounds I think, but the main area is this sweeping courtyard, with joined cottages forming three sides of a square around the edges.
I find the term ‘cottage’ a bit misleading really. I think of a cottage as generally being small, maybe a bit gloomy, but the cottage we stayed in, which you can see in the second picture above and was called Wychwood, was bright and spacious and basically bigger than my house.
As soon as we arrived and I saw that the kitchen table had been set for afternoon tea, complete with homemade lemon drizzle cake, I felt myself relax. (Who wouldn’t?) Further exploration of the kitchen and specifically the welcome basket, and my shoulders had visibly dropped a good inch – there were so many lovely treats – fresh bread, butter, cheese, bacon, eggs… even a full sized bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge.
Belle is only 16 and Bee is 20 weeks pregnant so WHAT A SHAME it looked like I was going to have to drink the whole thing myself.
All of these goodies weren’t left for us just because we were there for a review either – the welcome basket, as well as all the self-catering basics like toiletries, washing-up liquid and dishwasher tablets, come as standard. There’s a reason that Bruern Cottages market themselves as 5-star luxury after all. (You can read more about the welcome basket here.)
Upstairs we found two bedrooms, one either side of the landing, and each with their own bathrooms. Bee is a bit fussy when it comes to sharing, so as she is thoughtfully carrying my GRANDSON – (it’s a boy!) – we let her have the double room and Belle and I showed the twin.
Both girls were very excited that the double room, with its wooden four-poster bed, looked like something from one of the Nancy Drew PC mystery games we *may* play together.
I’m not saying we WANTED a murder to take place or anything, but the cottage felt ripe for some vintage sleuthing.
After tea and lemon cake we decided to explore the gardens around Bruern Cottages. It was about 5pm by now and already starting to get dark, and following the sign that said ‘to the spa’, past shadowy trees in the semi-darkness made the urge to get out a magnifying glass even stronger.
After Belle had made me do a timed assault course around the kids’ play area, we found ourselves at the pool, spa and gym complex. I’ve been reliably informed that during the day it looks like this:
It’s nice right?
When we arrived though, no one else was there, and the inside lights were all off. The only lights came from the red lights around the pool, which made it feel rather magical. We decided to leave the lights off, and it got more magical as the light from the glass roof faded.
We’d only been meaning to have a look, but as no one else was there and it looked so pretty I ran (briskly walked) back to the cottage for our swim stuff and we had a very chilled forty minutes playing in the pool. Belle put on an impromptu water aerobics class for us and everything. It was a lot of fun.
We were really lucky going to Bruern Cottages at such a quiet time of the year. Even when we went after our swim to explore the games room, which is home to table football, pool, a piano, a games console and a HUGE DVD library, we still didn’t see a soul. (More and more like a Nancy Drew mystery right?)
If you’re wondering ‘is Bruern Cottages good for kids?’ then absolutely. They position themselves as luxury family self-catering and want to provide a safe and fun environment for kids of all ages. As well as the games room, which would be fantastic for teenagers, there’s loads laid on at Bruern Cottages for younger children – outdoor play areas, play houses, and nice touches like free swim nappies in the pool.
We stocked up on films from the games room, (a very complicated process as the three of us don’t exactly have similar taste in films), and headed back to the cottage, where I lit the fire (yess!) and we settled in for dinner and champagne. I have to say that drinking a bottle of champagne on your own (I had half each night) is a delightfully decadent thing to do and I can heartily recommend it.
We all slept well and on Saturday I dragged everyone out for a little drive, before succumbing to the comfort of the cottage and settling back into a repeat of Friday night’s relaxation. I DID however go to the Bruern Cottages gym in the afternoon, which is attached to the pool, where I did a brisk 3 mile walk on the treadmill to the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack. I have never used a gym on holiday before – I’ve always thought the point of a holiday was to not have to feel guilty about lounging about – but I have to say that I actually quite enjoyed it. Perhaps I’m coming down with something.
I’d love to be able to find fault with Bruern Cottages, as I do fancy myself as Nancy Drew, uncovering poorly cleaned toilets with my fingerprint kit, but honestly, I can’t think of anything. Even the fact that I couldn’t find any firelighters for the fire didn’t really bother me, as both nights I managed to start an amazing fire just with the kindling and logs, which made me feel like a QUEEN.
The only mystery is why I hadn’t heard of Bruern Cottages before now. Our summary – 10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND.
How we got to Bruern Cottages
I wanted to take a minute here before I go to tell you how we got to Bruern Cottages.
I own a verging-on-ancient Renault Clio, which let’s be fair, has seen better days. It’s very small, and riding in the back is not spacious or luxurious or fun in any way. Also you have to listen to CDs, in my ancient CD player, which doesn’t go down well.
Luckily, Citroen offered to lend us a Citroen Berlingo for the weekend. I did take some photos, but they just show you a CAR – they’re not very exciting – so I thought this video might be more useful:
What did you think? It’s nice right?
Now I’m not going to lie, the poor Berlingo DID get some abuse from Bee and Belle, who weren’t exactly sold on it looks wise. And it’s true, it’s not a super sleek sports car, with smooth curves and a stylish silhouette. You’re not going to pull up at traffic lights and score admiring glances from the ladies, but then that’s not what the Citroen Berlingo is about. It’s meant to be a practical, affordable, well designed family car, and I honestly think it ticks all of those boxes.
It was incredibly spacious and had so much built in storage that we joked that you could probably chop up an entire corpse and hide the pieces in the various compartments. If we’d had it for longer I would have been tempted to try and source some kind of mannequin, just to prove the point. There were compartments under seats, overhead, in the dashboard – so many places for Belle to stash her McDonald’s chicken selects.
Best of all it was EASY. I could have just driven and driven it – it didn’t feel like any effort at all. As a driver I found it very comfortable and intuitive, which is all I ask for really.
So apologies on behalf of my rude children to the Citroen Berlingo – I would drive you again in a shot.
We were given a complimentary two night stay at Bruern Cottages and the loan of the Citroen Berlingo in return for this review. All opinions my own.