The last stop on our honeymoon was England. This was definitely an add on because I have been eager to visit the English countryside and figured it would be much easier (and cheaper) to hit on the way home. We flew into London, rented a car and drove the hour and a half out to Oxfordshire. I did A LOT of research on this leg of the trip before going. Mostly because we were renting a car and driving (on the other side of the road and car) so I tried to map out as much as I could ahead of time and get a feel for the area. Daniel ended up doing all of the driving because I was far too nervous and we had no issues at all. I abolsutley loved visiting The Cotswolds and ultimately wish we had more time. There is SO much to see and it is all very spread out which requires a lot of driving, even more than I realized when mapping the trip out. I would love to visit again and spend a week or even longer getting to see much more of the villages and countryside.
On another note I had a few questions about how I plan my trips and if I use any service to do so. For international trips I do just about everything on my own except book airline tickets. I find this to be so much easier going through a service (I use AAA and love them). They charge about $40 per ticket and have helped get us really nice upgrades. Ultimately it saves so much time sifting through flight options especially when you are not flying into and out of the same location. For everything else I have a pretty straightforward approach. Once we know where we are going, I always start with a Pinterest board. I add sections for each place we will be going such as Paris, Italy, England and then start saving links specific to those places. I clean them up before I leave, but they are so helpful for saving hotels I am liking and once you are abroad you have a list of restaurants, shops you want to visit, etc. This trip was a bit different because it really was for the two of us and I didn’t go in with a daily itinerary or places I HAD to see (with the exception of few stops in England) It was incredibly go with the flow and I found it to be the best trip yet.
For choosing hotels I rely heavily on Google Maps. I ALWAYS street view any place I’m interested in staying and “walk” for a bit in order to get a feel for the neighborhood. This helps me feel like I am really there and works so much better than photos. I typically choose hotels that are a close distance to at least one point of interest and Google Maps allows me to weigh options between different locations. I have definitely passed on a hotel that looked nice because the neighborhood is deserted or doesn’t have the vibe I am going for. The other thing I do for every trip is make a pretty detailed Google Doc by day with all of our flights, hotel information and confirmation numbers. I also use the TripIt app to store all of our documents such as boarding passes and train tickets, but with COVID I printed every single thing I could ahead of time just to be safe. I do pretty much everything I can digitally now, but there was something comforting about already having our printed tickets ahead of time and made the whole process so much smoother.
Where We Stayed
England was the one place on this trip where we decided to rent a house. I love vacation rentals, but in certain locations it can be more efficient to stay in a hotel. We rented the house in Minster Lovell through Stay Cotswold, which is filled with stunning properties all throughout the region. I had my eye on a much smaller cottage I had been swooning over forever, but sadly it was booked when we went, so the property we got was larger than we needed. I absolutely loved the house and all of the charm, but it was a bit too in the middle of nowhere for us. In hindsight I would have picked something in a village such as Burford or Burton-on-the-Water that has a bit more going on. It was incredibly charming and romantic, but felt a bit isolating / hard to walk to restaurants and shops (other than the adorable Old Swan Inn). I didn’t want Daniel to have to drive everywhere so this spot would be perfect if you don’t mind driving. The country roads felt more daunting at night, but the benefit of a full kitchen is we were able to make all of our meals at home, so it all worked out!
This was at the top of my list of places to visit and it far exceeded my expectations. Upon arrival I immediatly wanted to move in, every room is better than the next and I could have spent hours just hanging out there. We had breakfast in the little cafe and then moved on to the garden center and upstairs home shop. We just happened to be there on the day of their Fall Harvest Festival so we walked around the farm looking at the set up for various food vendors and massive pumpkin displays. This had to be one of my favorite moments. A quintessentially English crisp fall morning. If you are headed to this area I highly recommend making a stop here, but if you aren’t – they have an incredible online shop with almost everything they carry in person.
Where I Shopped
Whenever Daniel and I are traveling together I try very hard to not make it a Chrissy shopping trip (boy knows I could), especially when it comes to locations filled with good interior shops. In order to not get overwhelmed I picked a few very specific places I wanted to shop and knew I wasn’t going to see everything on this trip. There are so many good antique stores in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, but the main one I wanted to visit was the Station Mill Antiques Centre in Chipping Norton. This place is a treasure trove and I wish I could have brought back a glass front cabinet on the airplane. I left with pillows, art and a few little vases which somehow all fit in my carry on suitcase, but I know I will be back one day. I could have wandered for hours since everything is piled high and takes a bit of sifting in some stalls.
Stow-on-the-Wold: Stow is home to Cutter Brooks, which is a can’t miss for interior enthusiasts. After following along for years and being such a fan of Amanda Brooks it felt surreal to be in the shop and it happened to be on the day she was working. It truly is even better in person, filled with the most curated selection of pieces. Across from Cutter Brooks is Tara Antiques. Another absolute gem with the best selection of framed art in various sizes. They also have a ton of beautiful Wedgewood pieces and English pottery. Other spots are Scotts of Stow, Baggott Church Street Antiques and Sam Wilson.
Burford: So many cute places including the Burford Garden Company. I would suggest just walking down High Street and popping into all the little shops. This is also a great place to have lunch or sit outside for a drink.
You really can’t go wrong no matter where you stop, but other villages of mention that I loved were Bilbury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Norton, Lower & Upper Slaughter, Kingham (home to the adorable Wild Rabbit)
Interior details at Cutter Brooks