Commuter and holiday homes in the Cotswolds: downsize in London to upsize in the country

Why Londoners are switching their main home to the Cotswolds and keeping a pied-à-terre in the city...
Stone cottages, slate roofs, village pubs and countryside pursuits have always attracted Londoners looking for a rural home. And just two hours west of London, among gentle folds of green countryside, is the Cotswolds — a rather traditional part of England.
 
Traditional, but certainly not stuffy, says Sam Butler, of estate agents Butler Sherborn. “The Cotswolds is relaxed and has moved with the times,” he adds.
 
With excellent schools, attractive cities including Oxford, Bath and Cheltenham and swift access to London by road and rail, he says there is a clear trend for Londoners switching their main home to the Cotswolds and keeping a pied-à-terre in London.

TAKE A PROPERTY TOUR OF THE COTSWOLDS:
 
Brimming with character
The Cotswolds reaches towards Broadway in the north, the Water Park to the south, Cheltenham to the west and Burford to the east. Regency Cheltenham and the Roman town of Cirencester, with its market square and independent shops, are popular.
 
Prices peak in small valleys, including the Coln, Windrush, Evenlode and Churn. Eastleach, Heythrop and Southrop carry a premium, along with Bledington.
 
Expect to pay from £350,000 for a three-bedroom semi-detached cottage and £900,000-plus for a four- or five-bedroom detached house in just less than an acre of land. Grander homes, with 10 or more acres, start from £2.5 million.
 
A four-bedroom listed stone cottage near Stow-on-the-Wold, with many period features, is £460,000, while a three-bedroom cottage in Windrush, dating from the 17th century, is £565,000, both through Butler Sherborn.
 
A larger five-bedroom house in Lechlade, painstakingly restored by its owner, is £850,000 through Savills.
 

Letting opportunities
Cotswold Water Park, with more than 150 lakes and protected wildlife, provides secure gated environments, with activities and facilities on tap.
 
Lower Mill Estate opened in 1996 and today has 325 owners across its eight lakes. Owners buy a plot and build their own home, with completed prices from £500,000. Most owners do not rent their homes, but those who do can earn £3,000 a week for a four- or five-bedroom house.
 
Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a spa and gym and fishing and children’s play areas. Annual service charges average £3,200 plus VAT.
 
A place to stay: Barnsley House 
Barnsley House is an 18-room hotel, 10 minutes from Cirencester, where traditional 17th-century Cotswolds architecture combines with modern and comfortable interiors. Stand-out service without any stuffiness, just 90 minutes from Hammersmith, means that nearly 90 per cent of guests are from London, says general manager Michele Mella.
 
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Barnsley House: traditional 17th-century Cotswolds architecture combines with modern and comfortable interiors
 
“The Cotswolds has upped its game, with a strong local organic food movement and some excellent pubs with rooms opening,” he says. “The luxury market is still buoyant, but has had to adapt. It’s about great service and comfort in an informal, beautiful place.”
 
The hotel design is by London-based Martin Hulbert, who has created calm, elegant interiors based on natural colours.
 
Outside, the 11-acre gardens include four acres of formal planting by legendary garden designer Rosemary Verey, who lived at Barnsley House in the Fifties.
 
Rates at Barnsley House start at £300 per room per night, including breakfast. 

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