UK Travel: Wiltshire Wanderings

Holidaying in the UK? You can take your four-legged friend along, too, on this luxury Cotswold country escape.

It is with great excitement that we pack up our car and set off on the A4 out of London, Wiltshire-bound. It’s our first trip away since early 2020, so, truthfully, we’d be pleased with any change of scenery, but we are thrilled that we’re off for a two-night break at five star The Manor House in Castle Combe. Not only is the hotel located in a 14th Century beauty of a building, the village itself is chocolate box pretty and has been used as a film location on numerous occasions. As we motor up the winding driveway it does feel a little like we’ve stumbled onto a film set. A white vintage Rolls Royce is parked outside, providing the perfect backdrop to some Instagram snaps before we’ve even checked in.

A romantic mini-break it might be, but we have not travelled alone – our chocolate springador Rocky has been invited along, too. After months of our undivided attention, he has been prone to suffering a touch of separation anxiety since our diaries starting filling up again, so we were reluctant to leave him behind. Indeed, part of the attraction of The Manor House is that it is dog-friendly. To Rocky’s delight he can roam freely and off the lead around the beautiful hotel grounds.

Rooms are found in the main house and in a row of mews cottages, which is where we are situated, right beside the ancient village church. Our suite is in an old converted stable with beamed ceilings and stained glass windows. It mixes old and new effortlessly, with stylish accessories and modern amenities like Le Creuset mugs and a Dyson hairdryer, as well as a pair of yoga mats. Rocky doesn’t miss out as there is a bed for him, too, along with bowls and a tasty treat. In fact, the treats are in abundance – we find a bottle of Taittinger and some home-made fudge waiting for us.

The main house is cosy and comfortable, in a classic country style; stone fireplaces, low lighting, comfy wingback chairs, and plenty of little nooks and small lounges to hide away in. There is a Michelin-starred restaurant and a well-stocked bar, and an afternoon tea that is so highly-rated, we’re told people travel from far and wide to sample it. All the staff clearly love dogs and there’s a seemingly never-ending supply of treats from every pocket. Though don’t be put off if you’re not a dog-lover: they are limited to only certain areas in the hotel, meaning it’s easy to enjoy dog-free peace if you wish it.

On our first night we eat in the local pub, The Castle Inn, which is owned by the hotel. It’s but a minute’s stumble from our room, and we dine on excellent, hearty food including salt beef croquettes, battered catch of the day and sticky toffee pudding.

Having the dog with us ensures that, in spite of the weather being pretty awful, we get out to explore the local area. The hotel staff furnish us with easy to follow maps for local walks, offering a variety of distances. We opt for an hour long stroll out of the village and Rocky enjoys a bracing dip in the babbling Bybrook river. It’s such a treat to be out of London and the countryside is stunning, as are the hotel grounds. It is a popular spot for weddings, and it’s easy to see why.

When Rocky digs his paws in, refusing to get into the car to go home, he’s not the only one who is reluctant to leave this heavenly spot.

From £252 per night bed and breakfast, based on two sharing (