When choosing a holiday destination, whether brief or long, at home or abroad, many travellers are increasingly looking for what might be coined as authentic experiences, not only looking for comfort, preferably at reasonable prices, but making that holiday or getaway somehow transcend those parameters and provide an enlightening experience. In Southrop, Gloucestershire, you will find a village within a village, the Southrop Manor Estate, that might just be what you are looking for if so inclined.
Thyme is very much a family affair where a passion for the land, food and hospitality merges with a love of nature, beauty and conservation. The family behind Thyme took their time, slowly but surely making this place what it is today, with the story of the land imbued in every detail. The hosts invite you to take a moment to pause for thought, notice the small things and reveal the wonder of the wild as they did when developing the estate. Emphasizing a simple yet poignant ethos, which is to conserve the land's beauty through generations of love for generations to come.
We arrive after a 50-minute rail journey from London to Swindon Station and a 30-minute taxi ride to Thyme. Immediately when signing in, we feel a sense of calm and as we walk through the gardens on gravel paths to our room, a certain serenity. Our suite is named Cedar of Lebanon after a beautiful tree growing on the Lodge lawn, on the first floor of the Lodge, a master suite complete with a walk-in wardrobe, four-poster bed and a statement bathtub, with views of the Cedar and the fields beyond. The room, along with others on the estate, is botanically inspired, forming a peaceful hamlet environment, dispersed across houses and cottages, with gravel pathways leading you through the gardens. No two rooms are identical, with colours inspired by their botanical names and graced with carefully sourced antique pieces.
In line with Thyme’s ethos and rooted in a passion for the local land, food and entertainment, Thyme’s carefully curated menus tell a story of the farm and seasons. Under the direction of Charlie Hibbert, the chefs and gardeners took time to work together to select and grow the fruits, vegetables and herbs used to create his modern British countryside fare, presented to guests in the nineteenth-century Ox Barn, formerly home to the oxen that once ploughed our fields. State-of-the-art agricultural architecture in its time, Caryn Hibbert worked meticulously to preserve the extensive beams, soaring arches and original Cotswold stone rubble walls. Now, it's a contemporary restaurant with a spectacular bar and a seven-and-a-half metre Charvet open kitchen.
For an alternative, more intimate dining experience, you would head off for The Swan, just a short stroll from Thyme, sitting at the heart of the village of Southrop adjacent to the green. Its recorded history dates back to 1606 when it was known as the Bakehouse, serving bread and ale to the farm workers. The Swan is characterised by low-slung ceilings, roaring fires, and a spacious garden room - now known as The Carousel. The higgledy-piggledy wooden furniture combined with bright stripes and in-house design Bertioli fabrics makes the perfect setting for cosy feasting and simple merrymaking.
After enjoying our first breakfast in the comfort of our room, we went our separate ways, one heading for the quaint library in the Farmhouse, the other enjoying a day of pampering at the spa. The Meadow Spa offers calm and stillness, nurturing beauty from within, they say, and who are we to refute that? The botanical spa is an idyllic haven of peace and tranquillity; a place for mindfulness and meditation, providing respite from our hectic lives. Meadow Cottage offers a bespoke menu of Thyme treatments in exclusive partnership with award-winning, natural British brand Aurelia London. Committed to the scientific use of natural ingredients, treatments are tailored specifically for mind and body, harnessing unique probiotic ingredients to protect, restore and balance the skin from within.
Thyme is a haven for the mind, body and soul, a truly unique magical and enchanting place.