Travel review: De Vere Cotswold Water Park

From picture-postcard towns and villages to the stunning scenery of the great outdoors – the Cotswolds leaves you spoilt for choice when you want a relaxing break not far from your doorstep.

See you lake-r – The De Vere hotel has a perfect setting in the heart of the Cotswolds Water Park
See you lake-r – The De Vere hotel has a perfect setting in the heart of the Cotswolds Water Park

Depending on what area you visit, it can just be over an hour’s drive from the Black Country, making it perfect for a short break.

My mini-break proved to be a great escape and relaxation – my bolt hole for the weekend was the De Vere Cotswold Water Park, around an hour and a half drive from Wolverhampton.

See you lake-r – The De Vere hotel has a perfect setting in the heart of the Cotswolds Water Park

Situated off the A419 and just five miles from Cirencester, the contemporary hotel is set in a wonderland of lakes, rivers and acres of open countryside. It’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and a great base to explore the surrounding area.

Arriving there on a Friday evening, we made it just in time for for dinner. There’s two dining options, the Brasserie in the main hotel building or The Old Boathouse pub, in an adjoining building. We opted for the latter and didn’t regret our decision.

With a lakeside setting, the cosy pub offers a mix of classic dishes such as steaks, burgers and fish and chips. And it also serves up cocktails, so it certainly got my vote.

The service was great and the food was delicious, although not the cheapest for pub grub, with fish and chips served up for £16. But we were hungry and wanted to start the weekend in style – by enjoying a feast! We opted for a sharing platter to start. They were described as a sharing platter for two, but there was easily enough to nibble on for three people if not more.

We munched our way through the charcuterie board, priced at £15.95, which comprised of prosciutto, chorizo, ham hock terrine, milano salami, sun dried tomatoes, olives and spiced aubergine hummus. It was delicious.

A stylish hotel room offers the perfect sanctuary

For mains our gathering had a mix of steak and chips (£23 for 10 oz sirloin) and beer battered fish and chips. The fish and chips got the thumbs up from me while those enjoying the steaks said they were cooked to perfection.

We stayed in a comfy twin room in the hotel, which opens on to decking around the lake. . . and although the decking is not private it does give you a great view of the lake and wildlife as well as giving you the chance to take a little stroll around the complex. The venue also offers self-catering apartments.

Other dining options include the Brasserie, which is also the venue for breakfast, And wow, this was a breakfast that certainly set you up for the day. As well as the usual cereals, pastries and juices the restaurant seemed to have a never ending hot plate which provides you with the choice of all the ingredients for a very tasty full Englsih beakfast – which did indeed leave us very full! The key to breakfast was getting there early (certainly in the school holidays). We arrived towards the end of breakfast for the first morning and found it very busy with quite a wait to get food so decided to get up early the second morning before the mad rush. And it was a wise choice as we had a much more enjoyable – and leisurely breakfast.

Now with so much on your doorstep you can be spoilt for choice. If you’re after an energetic weekend then the Cotswolds Water Park is, quite literally, on your doorstep, offering a variety of water sports, walks and a beach based around 150 lakes in 40 square miles.

Fancy a dip – the hotel has a relaxing spa

After a busy week at work I was happy to chill for a bit so sampled the leisure facilities on site before visiting some of the pretty villages and towns in the Cotswolds. The hotel has a spa, which includes a swimming pool and sauna and steam room as well as offering a wide range of treatments from massages to facials. There’s also a fitness club, so if you’re feeling energetic you’ve got the opportunity to work on your fitness.

Work it out – if you’re in the mood for fitness, try the gym

There’s plenty there to keep you occupied if it’s pampering you’re after, but I was keen to sample some of the picturesque villages and towns nearby.

Bourton-on-the Water was top of our ‘must see’ list and we weren’t disappointed by this pretty place – just be aware it does get busy!

This popular village is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ because of the attractive little bridges that cross the gently flowing River Windrush, which runs through the centre of the village.

Chocolate box pretty – the pretty Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water

This lovely village has a charm all of its own and it is suitable for visitors of all ages especially families.

If you’re a fan of wildife, there is the Birdland Park and Gardens to keep you entertained. It’s also home to the Cotswold Motoring Museum and the Dragonfly Maze.

I especially liked the village for its eclectic mix of gift shops and riverside cafes – oh, and there’s a fair few cosy pubs too.

We also managed to fit in a visit to the market town of Cirencester, known as the capital of the Cotswolds. With its grand church, independent little shops and a host of restaurants and cafes, this is another gem worthy of a visit.

The Cotswolds truly is a great short break destination – but as there’s so many delightful villages and towns you can’t fit them all into one visit. So it’s a perfect excuse for a return trip!

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