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5 of the best country pubs in The Cotswolds

After a winter’s walk, a country pub is the perfect pay off - with a cosy welcoming fire to help you defrost and warming comfort food to restore and revive. The Cotswolds is full of historic coaching inns, family friendly eateries as well as smart gastro pubs – here’s our pick of the best, both tried and tested favourites, local landmarks and new openings for 2020…

The Swan - Ascot under Wynchwood

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The Swan, taken over by Sam and Georgie Pearman earlier this year, who also own The Chequers in Churchill, is a 16th century ‘inn with rooms’. The perfect mix of ‘hip meets homely’ there are eclectic furnishings mixed with country classic Farrow & Ball palettes and historic exposed stone walls and characterful beamed ceilings, plus the obligatory handsome fireplace at its heart. Offering sustenance all the way through from breakfast to dinner, it’s a great option for a weekend brunch, or Sunday roast. The menu focusses on local suppliers – with bread and charcuterie from Chipping Norton and meats from local named farms. There are innovative modern takes on British pub classics, as well as great, sociable sharing options and a family friendly kids’ menu too.

The Ebrington Arms – Ebrington (main pic)

Voted the no. 1 village pub by The Times in 2017, The Ebrington Arms has all you could wish for from a traditional, country tavernLandlords Jim and Claire Alexander have not only created an award-winning pub, but reinstated the heart of their village community – sourcing many of their organic ingredients from local suppliers and brewing their own ales, in-house. Awarded The Good Pub Guide's ‘County Dining Pub of the Year 2019’, the beamed-ceilings, high-backed wooden booths, wood-burning stove and authentic flagstone floor offer as cosy and inviting an interior as you could wish for on a cold, winter’s day. The National Trust’s Arts and Crafts masterpiece, Hidcote Gardens is close by for a pre-amble before lunch, or you can walk off your excesses with a leg-stretching jaunt up Broadway Tower.

The Victoria – East Leach

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The Victoria, a pretty honey-stoned pub in East Leach is a stone’s throw from the market town of Burford and riverside town of Lechlade, yet is the perfect, quintessential rural country pub – the terrace to the front is a real sun-trap in the summer, but it is the cosy window seats and rib-warming Sunday roast that draw the crowds in winter months. Locally sourced meats are served with all the trimmings, with a well-priced children’s menu to keep the little ones happy, why not make a day of it at the nearby Cotswold Wildlife Park?

The Plough - Cold Aston

The Plough in Cold Aston is run by young couple Tom and Josie; with 2 small children of their own, they know a thing or two about creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere for all generations. With a charcoal-fuelled oven in the kitchen, head chef Jonathon Grey can really bring to life the flavours in their locally sourced meat and fresh fish. If you've got no room at the inn and you're looking for somewhere local to recommend to friends and family, their 3 en-suite rooms are full of Grade-II listed charm. Perfect for those looking to make the most of the inn's hospitality and enjoy their own brewed 'Plough Bitter' ale and 20-strong gin menu.

The King's Arms, Prestbury - opening December

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Finally, a new one to try out over the festive break, French chef and restauranteur, Raymond Blanc will open his 20th eatery at The King's Arms on the outskirts of Cheltenham in the run up to Christmas. Offering a traditional pub atmosphere in the Grade II listed inn, but with a 'French brasserie twist' on the menu. The outdoor dining area will be designed by local Dee Campling, with quirky potting sheds, each seating up to six people, surrounded by atmospheric lighting. Perfect for al fresco dining come summer.

Follow them on Instagram for more news on the opening here