Buy a Cotwolds cottage for Christmas and live the dream curled up inside honey-coloured stone walls beside a roaring fire piled high with apple wood. The Cotswolds has long been tempting London homebuyers to picture-perfect villages, where a friendly hostelry is rarely far away.
Oxford estate agent Guy Shaw of John D Wood describes the medieval village of Burford as "the gateway to the Cotswolds; and Chipping Norton is now the home of the smart set and many of the movers and shakers and is much loved. It is a proper thriving little market town with an ironmonger, an independent book shop and the best little theatre. The Christmas pantomime is sold out in days."
We take a property tour, starting in Burford and celebrity favourite Chipping Norton, to discover cosy cottages, spacious family homes and good-value village boltholes.
We also head to other prime Cotswolds commuter areas to find pretty towns and villages with handy rail links to Paddington, including Charlbury, Kingham, Chipping Campden and the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh.
“People who live in the Cotswolds and commute regularly into London for work live in the villages surrounding Kemble, and in towns around the North Cotswold line such as Moreton-in-Marsh and Charlbury, as well as the village of Kingham where trains run into London Paddington," says Jeremy Briggs of local estate agents RA Bennett & Partners.
£270,000: Fulbrook, Burford
An extended period cottage tucked away on a quiet road in the popular village of Fulbrook, within walking distance of Burford. There's a cosy fireplace in the open-plan living and dining room, two bedrooms upstairs and a terraced south-facing garden with a patio. Burford is about eight miles from Charbury with trains to London Paddington taking around an hour and 20 minutes.
£325,000: Milton-Under-Wychwood, Chipping Norton
Staddlestones is a traditional two-bedroom stone cottage about halfway between Milton-Under-Wychwood and Shipton-under-Whychwood with a two-storey rear extension, a 90ft garden and charming character details which include an inglenook fireplace in the sitting room and exposed beams.
£395,000: Long Compton, Shipston-On-Stour
Harrow Hill Cottage is set on a quiet lane in the village of Long Compton. The four-bedroom home, in need of updating, has plenty of its original character with elm fireplaces and open fires, mullioned windows, exposed beams and original parquet flooring. The market towns of Chipping Norton, Shipston-on-Stour and Moreton-in-Marsh are all within easy reach.
£500,000: Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
A delightful thatched cottage set in half an acre with a separate two-bedroom annexe currently used as a holiday let. The sitting room has a log burning stove and there's a separate dining room and kitchen/breakfast room. Trains from Moreton-in-Marsh (about 15 minutes away) take between 1.5 and two hours to reach London Paddington.
£575,000: Bourton on the Hill, Moreton-in-Marsh
This three-storey, Grade II-listed traditional Cotswold cottage was originally two cottages and has now been converted into a single three-bedroom home with plenty of old-world charm and a 90ft rear garden. Bourton-on-the-Hill is midway between the village of Blockley and two miles from the more traditional market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, which has rail links to London Paddington.
£325,000: Charlbury, Chipping Norton
A character cottage in the small Cotswold town of Charlbury with a reception/bedroom at basement level, a separate living room, kitchen and a study on the ground floor, two further bedrooms on the first floor and a large attic space in the roof. Trains reach London Paddington in about an hour and 20 minutes.
£1 million: Charlbury, Chipping Norton
Join the Chipping Norton set in Charlbury and you'll have plenty of space at Larkfields, an impressive four-bedroom family home with a recently built three-bedroom self-contained annexe. The main house overlooks spacious gardens with wonderful views over paddocks and towards Cornbury Park in the distance. Charlbury offers good local primary and secondary schools and good rail links to London Paddington.
£565,000: Kingham, Chipping Norton
A four-bedroom family home in the sought-after village of Kingham with a separate sitting room, family room, diner, conservatory, kitchen/breakfast room, double garage and spacious gardens. Trains from Kingham mainline station to London Paddington take about an hour and 30 minutes.
£220,000: Bledington, Gloucestershire
A two-bedroom terrace house in the small village of Bledington, about a mile from Kingham mainline station with regular trains to London Paddington, and about two miles from the popular Daylesford Organic Farm Shop. Chipping Norton is six miles away.
£300,000: Little Compton, Moreton-in-Marsh
A four/five-bedroom cottage in the south Warwickshire village of Little Compton that has been completely modernised, with a fitted kitchen, a bright conservatory, a separate sitting room and dining area and a garden patio. Trains to London take between 1.5 and two hours.