There’s no shortage of quintessentially English public houses in the Cotswolds.
The moment you step foot into any given village, you’ll notice that the pub and Church are the two main focal points of the community. Cotswolds pubs, whilst nowadays providing cosy and quintessentially “English” escape, would once have been hives of all sorts of activity – buying and selling, political meetings and electioneering, a resting place for wearing travellers, even recruitment centres for military leaders setting out on their crusades.
Some of the best combine both an enticing heritage and beautiful scenic backdrops that will make you want to stay forever.
It’s been no easy task whittling our long list of Costwolds watering holes to a top ten. But when pushed, these are the ones we think no visitor should leave the Cotwolds without having frequented at least once.
1. The Chequers at Churchill
Think low wooden beams, think roaring fire, think cosy seating nooks. The Chequers is everything you’d expect a traditional English pub to be with its flagstone floors, dark interiors, and a mishmash of cosy seating areas.
The bar is stocked with local lagers, gins, and cocktails, while its menu offers a range of expertly cooked dishes. Its Sunday roasts are second to none.
Don’t forget to keep an eagle-eye out for Jeremy Clarkson and Kaleb of Clarkson’s Farm fame!
Address: The Chequers Church Rd, Churchill, Chipping Norton OX7 6NJ
2. The Kingham Plough
On the train line direct from London, and close to award-winning Daylesford Farm, Kingham has a great local pub.
Winner of both the Country Dining Pub and the National Dining Pub for 2019 in the Good Pub Guide, The Kingham Plough is full of character and charm. It offers a choice of six rooms for an overnight stay, and its constantly changing menu is based on seasonal and locally-sourced produce.
Meanwhile, its bar offers a range of local beers from the Hook Norton brewery, as well as a healthy selection of cocktails and wines to enjoy on the terrace.
Address: The Green, Kingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 6YD
3. The Potting Shed, Crudwell
Address: The Street, Crudwell, Malmesbury SN16 9EW
4. The Wheatsheaf, Northleach
Address: The Wheatsheaf Inn, West Road, Northleach, Cheltenham, GL54 3EZ
5. The Village Pub, Barnsley
Address: The Village Pub Barnsley, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 5EF
6. The Swan, Swinbrook
On the banks of the River Windrush, The Swan in Swinbrook is steeped in history. Owned by the estate of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the last of the famous Mitford Sisters, it’s a beautiful place to enjoy both a meal and a place to stay after a long day exploring the Cotswolds.
Address: Swinbrook, Near Burford, OXON, OX18 4DY
7. The Swan, Southrop
Another Swan, this one in Southrop, is situated in the heart of the Southrop Manor Estate near Lechlade. The Swan is bursting with Costwolds charm with its flagstone floors, open fireplaces, cosy snug and very own cask beer, “The Village Tipple”: you’ll never want to leave!
Address: The Swan, Southrop, GL7 3NX
8. The Bell, Sapperton
Multi-award winning pub, The Bell, is nestled in between Cirencester and Stroud in the village of Sapperton. Wine connoisseurs will love this pub for its “wine wall”, and real ale enthusiasts will love the range of beers on tap. Meanwhile, it’s also a place for the foodies, for its high-end locally sourced and seasonal dishes. There’s good reason this place was voted “idyllic” in The Times 31 Best Winter Pubs in the UK in 2021.
Address: The Bell, Sapperton, Nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6LE
9. Falkland Arms, Great Tew
This 16th Century pub, The Falkland Arms, with its oak walls, low beams, flagstone floors, quirky interior and lively bar is a favourite for locals and visitors alike. Great place for diners, drinkers and overnight stayers to enjoy!
Address: 19-21 The Green, Great Tew Chipping Norton Oxford, OX7 4DB
10. The Victoria Inn, Eastleach
Eastleach, just a stone’s throw from Burford, is home to The Victorian Inn overlooking the Cotswold village of Eastleach. Its honey-hued stone exterior and its charming cosy interior make for a great place to kick off your boots after a long day walking or cycling the Costwolds.
Address: Victoria Inn, Eastleach, Gloucestershire, GL7 3NQ
Here are our Top Ten pubs we think every visitor should enjoy when they visit the Cotswolds. Even better, in our opinion, if combined with a walk or a cycle around this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.