Scouting England: Bath and the Cotswolds

The Northey Arms. Note the damaged stone sign (lower right), a reminder of the damaged sustained during World War II when German bombers attacked the nearby train station and railroad tracks.
The Northey Arms. Note the damaged stone sign (lower right), a reminder of the damaged sustained during World War II when German bombers attacked the nearby train station and railroad tracks.

Bath would be a lovely place to stay with numerous top-notch hotels, but it’s difficult to find one with parking (or parking that doesn’t cost a small fortune). As such, we decided to stay just a 10-minute drive outside Bath in the town of Box. The four-star Northey Arms was once an inn adjacent to a train station, but after years of neglect, was completely overhauled. The exterior may be ye olde, but the inside is ye moderne (perhaps too much so, as it lacks the old world charm of other hotels we visited). The pub and excellent restaurant are downstairs, while the handful of guest rooms are upstairs.

Our room was on the small side (hardly an anomaly in England), but the bed was big and comfortable, and the bathroom was enormous and thoroughly up-to-date. The big tub was especially appreciated after long days walking about Bath and the Cotswolds.

Our room, the Ruinart, at the Northey Arms. It overlooked the busy road into Bath, but there is thankfully a second set of thick, modern windows on the inside to quell noise.
Our room at the Northey Arms. It overlooked the busy road into Bath, but there is thankfully a second set of thick, modern windows on the inside to quell noise.  Other rooms are larger or have a large, private balcony. (Photos courtesy the Northey Arms)
Breakfast is included at the Northey Arms, with a kitchen that will prepare as little ("just some toast and yogurt, please") or as much ("Give me the full English breakfast!") as you'd like.
Breakfast is included at the Northey Arms, with a kitchen that will prepare as little (“just some toast and yogurt, please”) or as much (“Give me the full English breakfast!”) as you’d like.
The Old House at Home
The Old House at Home

A booking snafu with Expedia allowed us the opportunity to stay in the Northey’s sister hotel, The Old House at Home (we highly recommend booking through their site). Though its further from Bath and surrounded by little, it’s nevertheless a better jumping-off point if you plan on multiple trips to the Cotswolds or even Wales. In many ways we preferred it to the Northey. The main building (top) houses a very traditional pub and restaurant, which is really what we were looking for on this trip. However, the rooms are located together in a recently constructed building (bottom), with big rooms, beds and bathrooms. Each is decorated differently. Ours, the Ruinart, was simple and modern. We would probably stay here the next time we visit the area.

Getting There
Though you can easily take a train from London to Bath, visiting the Cotswolds requires a rental car or a bus tour. We’re not exactly fans of the latter, so we opted to pick up a car at Heathrow. It actually wasn’t as expensive as you might imagine, and provided us with the opportunity to see things we hadn’t planned to, including Dyrham Park, Lacock and a half-day drive into Wales.

Yes, we drove on the left side of the road. And yes our rented Nissan Qashqai had a manual transmission. The joys of having a husband who's an automotive journalist -- though he reports it wasn't that difficult.
Yes, we drove on the left side of the road. And yes our rented Nissan Qashqai had a manual transmission. The joys of having a husband who’s an automotive journalist — though he reports it wasn’t that difficult. Remembering to get into the correct side of the car, however, proved to be.

This report was based on a personal vacation taken by the writer.  

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