In 2013 I spent five weeks traveling throughout southern France, with stops in Frankfurt and various spots in the UK. Rifling through my travel journal recently, I came across my notes from a stop in the Cotswolds. It had been mid-September when I spent two luxurious rustic nights at The Wheatsheaf Inn.
It was my personal writer’s getaway, with much of my time spent in the hotel common areas, when not exploring the streets of Northleach, Cheltenham. The hotel attendant was a young gentleman named James. He had short spiky blonde hair and wore a blazer, snuggish jeans and Converse sneakers. He was casually elegant in attitude and appearance. We struck up a friendly conversation and he shared that he was studying Philosophy at university, that he snowboarded and hoped to make it to the States to explore the various regional cultures.
My room wasn’t quite ready so I decided to grab a bite to eat in the tavern and get to work. When I lifted my head from my notebook I noticed an old Pepsi crate resting on the buffet holding bread. Pepsi is my favorite carbonated beverage and its presence was unexpected, as I’d only been able to get Coke on the trip thus far. Red and white striped curtains separated the dining room from the parlor. From my seat I had a beautiful view of the flickering fireplace.
A cloth tea towel in white with red stripes was my serviette. Classical music gently filled the air as a nearby guest spread homemade marmalade on a slice of multi-grain toast. He was speaking French to his wife and I couldn’t help but notice her beautiful plate of fresh strawberries. Then my eyes wandered to a painting hanging on the wall behind the couple.
The image of a striking woman holding a can of Coca Cola in her right hand, eyes closed leaning against a tree. Her t-shirt peaked from under her unbuttoned collared shirt, layered under a blazer, revealing the words, “Elvis Presley.” Three quarters of the painting was covered in black. It left me wondering what could be hiding beneath the darkness. Portraits of old English gentlemen filled the neighboring wall. In a far corner near the fireplace were paintings of gentlemen in top hats and tails, as if strategically placed for those looking for a private gallery setting.
I’d lost interest in my writing for the moment and was taken over by the music. A variety of unknown classics, blended with more popular pieces you could hum by heart. Handel’s Cannon in D precedes what sounds like an Italian opera selection. Then, a rough recording of a tenor holding notes in the key of G for just long enough to not interrupt my own breathing pattern. I imagined he looked like one of the gentleman frozen in the paintings. Stately, mustached and dignified. The dining room started to come to life and the caffeine from my builders tea was kicking in.
James stopped by my table, waking me from my daze, and let me know the hotel would have a mobile phone adapter for me by day’s end. I had left mine back in France. They would be upgrading me to their finest room as soon as I was ready. As I scribbled my final thoughts in my notebook I wondered what I would find when I stepped onto the streets of the quaint market town.
It was a brisk Costwolds morning. The beams of sunshine on my face were all that was keeping me from turning around after only going half a block. I made my way up the cobblestone street, where I found a mess of shops, a post office and some eateries. What was most enjoyable is the architecture. The buildings date back to the 15th and 16th centuries and I feel as if I’d stepped back in time, as I explored one building after another.
When I returned to the inn I did some more work and then prepared for dinner. I noticed a book by a UK author on my bedside table. Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever by Nicolas Clee. I learned that all guests can expect to find books by local authors in their rooms. This truly was a writer’s retreat. Incredible food, attentive staff…oh, and did I mention they are pet-friendly, too?
Whether you’re a writer looking for a private getaway to inspire or on a quest for a relaxing English escape, check out The Wheastsheaf Inn. I’m so glad I did.
About The Wheatsheaf Inn
A honey, coloured seventeenth century coaching inn clad in wisteria and vines and nestled in the Cotswolds hills in the historic market town of Northleach.
With 14 beautiful bedrooms, stunning tiered cottage gardens designed by Max Asknew, a treatment room and private rooms for meetings and hideaways, it is a Lucky Onion properties.
Finalist Mr and Mrs Smith Awards
Best of British Tatler Restaurant Awards
Top 101 Hotels in the World Conde Nast Traveller
Christmas and New Year’s
From lunch with log fires in the country to chilli-fired cocktails on the dance floor in town, make your festive season memorable this Christmas…take a look at their various holiday offerings here: http://theluckyonion.com/christmas/
About The Lucky Onion
The Lucky Onion is a family of hotels, inns and restaurants, raised and rooted in The Cotswolds, England. It currently consists of six Lucky Onion properties, each with its own distinct character and personality, but all sharing a genuine passion for great design, high quality food and drink and exceptional service.