When you stay at the Kings Hotel you get an entire English village thrown in for free. Chipping Campden (technically a small market town) is known as one of the country's most picturesque and it's easy to see why. The main high street is lined with buildings built between the 14th and 17th centuries from the local Cotswold stone. And right at its heart – next to the arches of the old Market Hall (dating from 1627), and constructed from the same honey-coloured blocks – is the Kings.
Inside, the broad wooden staircase leads up to thirteen bedrooms while on either side are the restaurant and the bar and brasserie.
We stayed in the detached stone cottage at the back of the hotel, which has five rooms as well as handy parking (although there’s also a large car park at the front). Our room in the eaves was spacious but cosy, featuring original exposed beams and whitewashed walls along with a modern freestanding bath which proved to be a lovely place to relax with a bit of telly (Snog Marry Avoid, since you ask) before heading to the main hotel for dinner.
Before that, though, we took a quick tour of Chipping Campden. Don’t judge – it had been a long drive – but our first stop was the pub. You won’t go short of them on the High Street, any more than you will places to eat, but we chose the Eight Bells Inn just off the main road because I’d read it dated back to the 14th century. Inside, the lovely low-ceilinged bar, with more original beams, bears that out. It’s worth knowing about the beer garden out the back too, which on a good day is a bit of a sun trap.
But back to the Kings Hotel for dinner – which is exactly where you should be headed…
Eating and drinking
We loved the restaurant at the Kings. At the risk of overdoing all this talk of Cotswold stone, low ceilings and exposed beams, the intimate little dining room makes great use of all three, and adds a stone fireplace into the mix too. The young waiting staff were charming, the menu (two courses for £27.50, three for £32.50) was a sensible length yet catered for carnivores, fish-lovers and vegetarians, and most importantly, the food was excellent.
I started with a deliciously oily fillet of mackerel, with kale, leeks and a light, crunchy potato croquette, and followed it with monkfish – succulent, not watery or dry – on soft spinach, and some puy lentils still with a bit of bite. My wife had her first, but definitely not her last, taste of lamb sweetbreads, then rabbit three ways, all of them good. Desserts were equally well thought out; my crème brulee was accompanied by a refreshing mango sorbet and “pineapple carpaccio”, her dainty cinnamon-glazed donuts by three little dips and toffee popcorn ice-cream.
Breakfast kept up the standard with a meaty full English, a proper veggie cooked option too, and – a real touch of class in my eyes – a choice of three delicious-sounding breakfast cocktails, priced between £6 and £7.50. I cursed the fact that I was driving.
Price: Rooms start at £125 for a small standard double
Address: The Square, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire GL55 6AW
Radio Times Travel rating: 8/10 – "A very comfortable, feel-good stay at the heart of a charming market town, with a restaurant that punches above its weight"
The Kings Hotel is part of the Eden Hotel Collection of seven hotels across the south of England and the Midlands. You can arrange a tour taking in as many as you like by booking at the hotel you want to begin with