Stow on the Wold in Cotswolds – My Guide to Eat, Drink, Shop and more!
I fell in love with Cotswolds some 6 years ago when I watched the movie- The Holiday. It was a heartwarming movie about two women swapping homes for their holiday – one goes to LA and the other comes to Cotswolds.
I’ve been wanting to visit Cotswolds ever since. This October, we finally made it to the magical English countryside and it lived upto all my dreamy expectations and more. Fall colours, winding roads, old trees, grazing sheep, picture perfect limestone homes, Cotswolds was chock full of beauty all around.
Here are some of the places — food, shopping and other stuff I recommend for you in Stow on the Wold, if you happen to visit this part of the world, which you must.
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Why stay in Stow on the Wold?
If you ever plan a trip to Cotswolds, you may face the same dilemma as I did. Where to stay in Cotswolds?
After much research and trip advisor queries, we decided on making the old market town of Stow on the Wold as our base to explore Cotswolds. In retrospect, it was a very good decision.
The market square at Stow has plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants, not to mention utterly cute and quaint shops for that lively feel. There are lots of places for a cup of coffee, beer or a meal, just a short walk away. We went during October, which is not a peak holiday season here. Things could be different around peak times. All the little towns you want to visit in Cotswolds are just 15-20 minute drive away from Stow, making it a perfect place to keep as the base from where to explore Cotswolds.
Our Airbnb listing in the Stow
Looking for where to stay in Stow? There are quite a few bed and breakfast places here such as The Kings Arms and The Stag at Stow. Here’s the Airbnb listing where we stayed at in Stow. 2 minutes walk from market square, a reserved parking spot, a very old home beautifully decorated with a modern touch, and a responsive host – we highly recommend this place, if it is available during your stay.
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The King’s Arms $$
A 500 year old coaching inn stands proud in the corner of the market square at the Stow. As soon as we reached Stow on a Sunday, we stepped out for lunch and The King’s Arms was our first choice. Lots of locals catching up over a cup of tea or beer or tucking into lunch from their special Sunday roast menu, it was a cozy place to be. Imagine my delight when I spotted a vegetarian option in the Sunday roast menu!
Indeed, that’s what I ordered – the Vegetarian Nut Roast with Roast Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, Yorkshire Pudding and Gravy. It was my first brush with a Yorkshire pudding and it was light, fluffy and perfect for mopping up the gravy. My son ordered the fish and chips which got a double thumbs up from him.
Tip: If you are here on a Sunday, make sure you are in for lunch by 12 noon so that you can get a table.
The Hive $$
Their USP is food made using local ingredients. The menu is just right for brunching. We ordered the cheese board which had generous portions of 3 different cheeses served with little pots of relishes and pickles. The two salads for £6.95 is an incredible deal for two bowls of freshly made salads of the day. We choose an Asian style slaw and a 3 bean salad which were both exceptionally good in terms of ingredients and flavours. Special mention for the absolutely friendly and warm waiting staff.
The Queen’s Head $$
We landed here on the quiz night day of the week. A wonderfully warm and cozy place with cushions and throws on weathered wooden benches and the glow of candles made for a lovely atmosphere. Sweet corn and cinnamon soup served with a baguette was warm and comforting on the cold evening. You must try the cheesy fries here. They come molten hot out of the oven and a friendly warning from the serving staff to wait for a bit before diving in. These could well be one of the best fries I’ve eaten – crazy crisp outside, fluffy inside with all that gooey cheese clinging on to each fry – worth every single calorie.
The Stag at Stow $$
This is a newly renovated boutique hotel + pub-restaurant. We loved the place and the friendly attitude of the owner that we ended up eating dinner here on two consecutive days. The quinoa and bean burger was hearty and beautifully browned on the grill, with lots of flavour. Their broad beans on sourdough bread topped with goat’s cheese was hearty and delicious.
I took a look at the current menu on their website and they even have a separate vegan/vegetarian friendly menu. The dishes seem to have all changed with the season, which shows that they take their food seriously.
Their signature Sticky Toffee Pudding served with butterscotch sauce and salted caramel ice cream is to die for. I also highly recommend the trio of ice creams served here from a local brand called Winstons – honey and ginger was my favourite favour among the trio we ordered.
Lucy’s Tea Room $
Located off the parking lot at the square, this eminently Instagrammable, family run place serves tea cakes and cream teas. Choose Lucy’s Cream Tea for a large scone, jam, clotted cream and a pot of tea or coffee. You can also pop in here for a full English breakfast or lunch comprising either sandwich, soups or jacket potatoes. Don’t forget to take a photo of the cafe window decorated with fresh seasonal flowers.
The Crock $
If you love cooking, you are guaranteed to feel like a kid in a candy store here. One of Cotswolds largest kitchen emporiums, this was located bang next to our Airbnb. A treasure trove of kitchen appliances, baking equipment, and everything cooking related, I literally wanted to buy the whole shop. But most of their crockery was solid ceramic which would easily take my baggage over the allotted weight, so I had to show restraint. Even if you cannot take anything back, this is one store you must visit just to check out all the stuff on display and sale.
Car Rental to drive to Cotswolds $
We rented our car from Oxford to drive down to Cotswolds, which turned out to be a good decision. Given the ample public transport and lack of easy parking in Oxford, it is best to rent the car after you are done with Oxford. The drive from Oxford to Stow on the Wold in Cotswolds took under an hour. We highly recommend Enterprise car rentals at Botley Road. We had reserved the car online and paid for it on the day of the hire. The process was smooth. They were satisfied with the Indian driving license, as long as it is in English. Although I had my International Driving License, they did not ask to see it.
I’m writing another guide to the other wonderful places we ate at in the rest of Cotswolds such as Broadway, Burford, Burton on the Water, Chipping Campden etc. Stay tuned for my next post on the magical Cotswolds!