As you probably saw from the last post, Mr M and I enjoyed a cheeky little break in the Cotswolds a few weeks ago. It came after a full-on few weeks that included my big switch from employed to self-employed and all the turbulence that brought, as well as some busy days for Mr M. So on a sunny Friday lunchtime we headed south down the Fosse Way to Minchinhampton near Stroud to check out the Ragged Cot.
Set in a former 17th century coaching house, the Ragged Cot is everything you imagine a Cotswolds country pub to be. Its picture-perfect stone-built building oozes history and really does make you feel like you’ve escaped to a country hideaway a million miles away from real life. Yet at the same time, it’s blended with some added parts like the restaurant and a glass walkway between the main building and the rooms which brings it up-to-date and lends a slightly more high-end feel.
The Ragged Cot seems to effortlessly mix pub with restaurant and hotel (it’s got nine bedrooms, so I reckon that counts as more than a B&B). Past the restaurant and through the bar, you find yourself in an understated reception, with the walk-through to the rooms just beyond.
Again, the rooms are a great balance between a simple, rural hideaway, and a special treat far, far away from home. From the silver stags’ heads over our bed tucked into its own space, to the historic tale behind the trunk in the seating area (it’s all about the Ragged Cot ghost), there’s definitely an aim to remind you of the unique place you’re staying in.
And then alongside the usuals like a TV on the wall and tea and coffee there are all the little well thought-out creature comforts like hot water bottles and dressing gowns. The latter are something I always think is an easy (and fairly cheap) way for hotels to make guests feel special and pampered and it’s nice when somewhere that isn’t a luxury or spa hotel does this.
Since we arrived on a rare moment of sunshine for the UK, we decided to take advantage of the Ragged Cot’s beautiful grounds and sit and enjoy a little drink and a catch-up. Yes, between work, blogging, Mr M’s own business and various other stuff life throws at us, we often need to take a few hours out to catch up with each other. Are we the only couple that does this?
Lucky for us, the Ragged Cot is surrounded by immaculately kept gardens. The restaurant has bi-fold doors across its width to lend that inside/outside feel and backs straight onto a terrace, with gardens reaching far beyond. It was on this terrace that we joined families, other couples, fellow guests, and a few men having an after-work pint, to lap up the rays enjoy our surroundings.
The Ragged Cot’s got an extra little section – The Shed – just out the front that it launched late last year. A cafe-cum-coffee lounge where people can enjoy a light bite or coffee. Lucky for us, the weather meant it was all about the outside space, but it seems like a good idea to provide that extra venue in slightly more inclement weather.
It was only as the sun started to move below the building that we realised we could take advantage of the equally picturesque gardens on the other side of the building – this side a haven for dog walkers, bike riders and more couples enjoying the late afternoon sun.
After an afternoon of sun, it was back to the room to get changed before we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the Ragged Cot’s restaurant. I won’t wax lyrical about that as I already wrote you a full review here but needless to say, we had a very enjoyable evening.
There’s nothing that quite beats having a restaurant meal then only having to wander upstairs to bed – another good reason to book yourself a room if you’re off down to the Cotswolds for a meal here. One suggestion is that you try to book a room that’s on the opposite side of the building from the road. The Ragged Cot’s on the main Cirencester Road (obvs, given its history as a coaching inn) which means if you’ve got the windows open, as we did, due to the heat of summer you might find yourself slightly disturbed by the sound of cars and lorries speeding past. Of course, there’s not much they can do about it but it’s worth thinking about if you’re planning a visit in summer.
Since I was up’n’at’em early doors, I left Mr M in bed to go for a nice little run. While the Ragged Cot might be on the main road, it’s only a few paces from its car park before you find yourself in winding country roads. I passed horses nonchalantly munching their breakfast in their stables and people walking their dogs before heading into the cute Cotswold town of Minchinhampton, its residential streets guarded against the cattle that are often allowed to graze on the Common, and running across the Common itself. Beautiful surroundings!
Exercise done for the morning, we got dressed and headed down for brekkie in the slightly quieter restaurant than it had been the night before for dinner. The menu was simple, with a choice from this rather nice table offering cereals, yoghurt, juices, fruit and toast, along with yummy top-quality butter and jam, or a few freshly-cooked choices.
Mr M went for the full English – good quality sausages and bacon, rich black pudding that thankfully wasn’t full of the huge lumps of fat you usually get, grilled tomatoes, beans (served separately, which I know is a big deal for some people), fried bread that oozed with fat just how I like it (yes, I’m gross), and a perfectly poached egg.
He rather welcomed the fact that there seemed to be an emphasis on quality and not quantity, which meant he could enjoy his breakfast without feeling like it was an endurance test.
I went for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – rapidly becoming a rather ordinary occurrence on many breakfast menus, but not always brilliantly executed. This, I have to say, was rather good. An incredibly generous amount of salmon, not just the token addition you sometimes get, and really good scrambled eggs. Still quite runny without being raw, and nicely seasoned. Breakfast of champions, in my view.
All fuelled up, we checked out and headed down the road for a little wander round Minchinhampton. If you want shopping and cosmopolitan life, this isn’t the right place for you – head to Cheltenham or Stroud. But if you want to soak up a quintessential English Cotswold market town, complete with local independent shops and cafes and even bunting (though I fear this may have been Brexit related), then this is for you.
We wandered past all the things that make you feel you’ve taken a little step back in time, including the local dairy shop that not only produces the cheese I’d enjoyed in my dinner the previous night, but has a huge vat of freshly-milked milk that people can go and fill up their own bottles with. Now where else might you find that? Not many places in the UK, I’ll wager.
Our little mooch done, we headed off to our next road trip destination feeling caught up, rested, well fed, and ready for more adventures. For us, the Cotswolds is far too often left out of our weekend break plans, yet it’s close enough geographically to be a more than manageable jaunt for one night whilst simultaneously transporting us far, far away from our ‘real’ lives. The Ragged Cot reminded me of that, and we’ve got plenty more Cotswold breaks planned now.
So whether you’re en route down south or looking for a short break away, don’t forget to consider some of the little gems hidden in the English countryside, including this one.
We were invited to stay and dine at the Ragged Cot to review it for Eat with Ellen, but I wasn’t asked to write a positive review. Our stay was free, as were dinner and breakfast, but we paid for all our drinks on the Friday afternoon.
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