The January blues don’t have to be endured. Plan well, and it’s an option that can be smartly avoided with a quick trip – even if it’s not a case of chasing the sun around the world, a mini staycation can be a restorative break from the norm.
So just a week after the mass return to work, I went on a wee overnighter to the countryside, in an attempt to to rebalance myself after a tough week (well, a week), and also to see what the Costwolds town of Shipston-on-Stour and the recently refurbished George Townhouse had to offer. Here’s how it went…
Shipston-on-Stour is at the north end of the Costwolds, two hours away from London and in the gravitational pull of Stratford-upon-Avon (beautiful, beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon). Like other Costwolds villages, there’s a river running through it, a tea shop where you can buy cream scones in the company of regulars, and a shop specifically aimed at tourists that sell lots of things that are insinuated to be from The Cotswolds, but aren’t really. The pub and hotel is located on the main street, though there aren’t that many peripheral streets before it gets to the growing number of residential estates.
General room vibe
We were given the suite, the largest and most attic of all the rooms. I’m an absolute sucker for attic rooms and wooden beams, so no 16 was my idea of heaven. I now have great plans to recreate it perfectly in my own home, even if it means knocking out the ceiling.
The spacious room came complete with a Pinterest-friendly writing table and touches like a vintage radio and Nespresso machine, and felt both welcoming and tasteful. As far as homely places go, it’s hard to beat.
Stealability of toiletries
They’re a little too stealable, frankly. They have little bottles of Templespa, my fella’s favourite moisturising brand, so it was mandatory to steal every toiletry that wasn’t nailed down and they had a lot including shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and sleeping kit. Sorry (a bit), George Townhouse.
Perfect 10/10 showerage. The heat was already set at the sweet spot between scalding hot and warm, so all I had to do was pick between the rainfall shower or the holdable one. I had two showers in order to choose both.
Not wonderful tbh, especially as I had trouble filling out the form to get the free wifi. At it’s worst it’s a little patchy, so don’t rely on it for live-streaming your sister’s wedding etc.
While the small number of rooms means there was no hot buffet, the cold selection was top class, with prettily-arranged slices of pineapple and watermelon as part of the fruit offerings, and flaky pastries that included chocolate twists (my favourite of all the breakfast desserts).
Hot made-to-order meals included a full English, avocado with bulgar wheat (a delicious dish also on the menu for their sister accommodation in Stow on the Wold) and Eggs Royale. I was awkward and chose a vegetarian brekkie, which they happily accommodated, even throwing in some avocado in lieu of meat.
Nearby dinner options
Elsewhere in Shipston-on-Stour, there’s a village Indian, a village pub Thai and another couple of pub restaurants. Nothing too controversial there. We chose to eat in the Townhouse’s own restaurant, a great decision as it was gastropub at its finest. The restaurant menu was medium length with solid options like duck, dauphinoise potatoes, kale and blackberries (£17.50), or seabass with pesto crushed potatoes and grilled fennel (£16). The prettiest dish we ordered was the starter of butternut squash and sage risotto, which was served with a truffled crispy egg (£7).
I often think that chefs can really get adventurous with desserts, as with staple ingredients like pastry, chocolate and cream, it’s hard to go wrong. So it was a little disappointing to see the standard fayre like a brownie (£6.50) and treacle tart (£6)– not that I was complaining about the taste of either.
As long as you’re not up for a wild night of clubbing, Shipston-on-Stour was a great place to get out of the Big Schmoke. The welcoming locals, warm vibe and unchanged village feel marked it out as a Costwolds village, though the George Townhouse – the pub, restaurant and accommodation – had its finger firmly on the pulse when it comes to interiors and service. I already can’t wait to return.
For more information, visit The George Townhouse’s website.