There is no better way to beat the January blues than a weekend escape. With that in mind, we skived off on Friday and took a drive down to Thyme. Over the last 12 years, the Hibbert family have lovingly restored the estate’s cottages and barns to create a stylish, comfortable and unpretentious hotel that showcases the stunning stone built architecture that is so quintessentially Cotswolds.
Everything about Thyme is personal, from the welcome note and biscuits in our room, the friendly and attentive staff (especially barman Connor who makes a mean Espresso Martini), to the hot water bottle we found in bed that evening. I am not sure if it was sheer coincidence or that it was obvious how much we love a good drink, but I have to make a special mention of the home infused blood orange vodka nightcap left out for us after dinner! Two of my favourite things in life are puns and cocktails, so I was overjoyed to find The Baa at Thyme, complete with sheep seats to rest weary limbs after a country walk. All cocktails at the bar are seasonal and created with homemade syrups, bitters and infusions. Purely in the name of research I may have drunk one or two … (several), but the winner by a mile had to be ‘Thyme Goes Sloe-ly’, a perfect blend of sloe-gin, St Germain and house made ‘Winter Bitters’.
It may sound as if we survive solely on a diet of alcohol, but thankfully for our livers this could not be further from the truth. The Hibbert family also own a picturesque country pub, The Swan, approximately five minutes’ walk away. Armed with an umbrella and a lantern (kindly provided by the Hotel) we wandered over for a beautiful dinner of scotch eggs, veal pappardelle and pheasant breast, washed down with a bottle of white wine (of course).
At breakfast, in Thyme’s grand dining room, we had baked ham with fried eggs and portobello mushrooms, alongside a selection of homemade preserves and freshly baked sourdough bread. I wandered into the kitchen where I was warmly greeted by the chef, who obliged my request to take pictures as he prepped freshly picked herbs and vegetables from the farm.
After breakfast, we took a walk around the grounds and found Thyme’s farm. During a lengthy debate about whether it would be ok to climb the fence for a closer look, we bumped into Jerry Hibbert, who gave us a personal tour and a fascinating insight into Thyme’s produce-to-plate approach. The farm has chickens, quails, indian runner ducks, more chickens, pigs and two vegetable poly tunnels, all of which supply the majority of the hotels fresh produce. The proof is in the eating. Thyme’s enthusiasm for homemade, home grown food (and drink) creates a unique and perfect example of how to do country escapes.