Thyme, Cotswolds, UK

An epicurean estate of stone cottages, converted barns and glorious gardens in a particularly pretty part of Gloucestershire.

A family run business and decades long project for the Hibberts, Thyme is so much more than a hotel. Described by owners as ‘a village within a village’, the estate features an old Cotswold-stone Manor House (available for exclusive use hire), an esteemed cookery school, restaurant, homeware shop, kitchen garden, spa, outdoor pool and hotel. Guests can borrow a bike and cycle down to the tiny village chapel where Kate Moss got married, or stomp across fields to the family’s village pub and return with a Thyme lantern and full tummy.

Who stays here? 

Weekenders from UK cities in the hotel, Cotswold locals in the restaurant.


Rooms are scattered across the lodge and farmhouse. Communal corridors are charming and rustic with creaking floorboards and wonky staircases. Interiors lean toward country house chic, but in terms of design, the smaller rooms are a little underwhelming; you should invest in a larger room or suite if you want to be wowed. Bathrooms are clad in marble tiles, showers are excellent, toiletries are True Being with a bergamot scent. Our bathroom needed a little TLC in terms of maintenance.

A lot was stripped out of the room presumably due to covid. There was no in-room guest information at all, which totally understandable, but we weren’t told about the omissions and had to go in search of a map as the orientation is a little confusing.

Food and drink

Thyme opened as a cookery school in 2009, and everything else followed, so food has always been at the heart of the estate.

Ox Barn restaurant has an impressive home in the former cattle shed, which has retained its soaring ceiling and original beams. Headed up by son Charlie, the kitchen serves modern British cuisine that makes the very most of the spoils of 155 acres of land.

‘Baa’ bar (not even vaguely like the one fellow Northerners might be thinking of) occupies the farm’s former lambing sheds, and features sheep benches upholstered in sheepskins from the farm. The cocktail menu is short and sweet, making use of syrups and purees made from orchard fruit.

In Southrop village, The Swan serves pub classics – juicy burgers and proper chips – and serves house wine straight out the cask. Pure joy.

Design details

The overall look is rural chic with a focus on nature; Thyme wouldn’t look out of place in the South of France with its whitewashed walls and ancient, knarled beams. Lounges feature huge stone fireplaces and deep squishy sofas that you could sink into and read for hours. Galvanised buckets generously overflow with loose and romantic flower arrangements – flowers are, of course, all cut from Thyme’s own cutting garden.

The homewares shop is located in the old piggery, which retains its old arches and chunky stone walls, and stocks home accessories in-keeping with the style of the hotel, such as ceramics by Alix D. Reynis and sets of pretty antique glasses.

For me, the gardens are the stand-out appeal here. Created with the guidance of six-time Chelsea Flower Show gold medalist Bunny Guinness, the informal and gauzy planting scheme frames the estate’s honey-stone buildings beautifully. The reduced colour palette of whites and purples and combination of soft ornamental grasses, gaura, verbena, pleached fruit trees and pencil-thin wrought iron pergolas is romantic and ethereal, but giving just enough structure.


Staff are quiet and hands-off, leaving guests to their own devices. For us this was appropriate for the most part, but other times it left us waiting 20 minutes for a drinks menu. Service at dinner was great, but slow at breakfast, so a little inconsistent overall. The service in the spa and around the pool was attentive and excellent.

Meadow Spa is sweet and lovely, tucked behind the farmhouse. The contemporary pool is usually spring water (chlorinated post-covid) and heated using an environmentally-friendly system. Treatments are from natural British brand Aurelia which specialises in probiotic skincare.

Packing list

Maxi dress and wellies for walks down to the kitchen garden and nearby pub.

Getting there

It’s a perfect base to explore the Cotswolds, being 8 miles from Burford and a little further to Bourton-on-the-Water.

Southrop Manor Estate, Southrop, Gloucestershire, England
From £245