Every now and again (ok, a bit more frequently than that), I like to spontaneously book a luxury weekend away somewhere and am always on the look out for a deal to give me an excuse to do so. For us, this generally entails a beautiful countryside location in a luxury boutique hotel. Our current favourite place to escape for a weekend is the Cotswolds. Full of quaint, quintessentially British villages, fantastic scenery and some truly superb country hotels, the Slaughters in the Cotswolds perfectly embody everything that is so superb about this little corner of England.
We generally go to a different place each time and then try to stick to just exploring the town or village we are actually in; if I open my researching up to a wider remit, the list of things I want to do gets absolutely huge and then our relaxing weekend break can become a whirlwind of activities. I have to make a conscious effort not to overload the itinerary (yes, I love an itinerary) and try to make sure we always have some downtime for strolling around or having a leisurely cocktail. This is one of the many reasons I love a weekend away in the Cotswolds, it conveniently has lots of perfectly sized villages for a 24 to 48 hour break.
We discovered the villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter while searching for our wedding venue and loved them so much we even ended up getting married at Slaughters Manor House. We were a bit hesitant at first due to the super murder-y name, but on arrival we forgot about that pretty quickly; The Slaughters are two of the prettiest Cotswolds villages I have been to and are often touted as among the most beautiful villages in England.
Located between Stow-on-the Wold (3 miles north) and Bourton-on-the-Water (1.5 miles south), Upper and Lower Slaughter are small but perfectly formed. The Slaughters are also perfect in remedying any over excitement and instinct to do and see as many things as possible, there is not loads to do which makes for the the perfect blend of exploring and relaxing.
The miniature River Eye runs through the villages which you can cross at various points via footbridges. In Upper Slaughter, if you bring a car, you will actually need to drive through it via a ford! Good fun, but go slow!
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History of Upper & Lower Slaughter
So, there seems to be a couple of different versions of how The Slaughters got their name, thankfully neither story indicated a mass murder at any point! When we stayed at The Slaughters Manor House we discovered that the name “Slaughter” is a corrupted version of the surname of a knight, Philip de Sloitre, who was gifted the land by William the Conqueror, however I have also since discovered that it could also have been derived from the Old English phrase “slough” or “slothre”, meaning wet or muddy place.
One way or the other, the unappealing nature of the name is the complete opposite of how beautiful this place is, don’t worry, there is no mud in site!
Things to Do in Upper & Lower Slaughter
Make sure you go for a wander through the villages, the old stone cottages lined along the river are particularly beautiful. The best way to visit Lower and Upper Slaughter is to walk between them; I have done both this walk through the fields and just followed the road connecting the two villages. It is around a mile and won’t take more than half an hour each way.
You can also walk from Lower Slaughter to Bourton-on-the-Water which is a bit further; take the signposted footpath from along the bank of the River Eye opposite Slaughters Manor. Bourton-on-the-Water is larger than the villages of the Slaughters with more shops and restaurants and is consequently much busier.
The only thing to do in Lower Slaughter itself is visit the Old Mill Museum on the banks of the River Eye. Built in the 1800s, it ceased operating as a mill in 1958 and now houses a tiny museum, gift shop and tea room. The gift shop has a wide range of items from fur coats to locally made chutneys, all housed in a warren of rooms through the mill. The tea room has an indoor and outdoor seating area, go on a nice day and have your coffee outside overlooking the river and watch the original water wheel turn in the sunshine!
Where to Stay & Eat in The Slaughters
This place is such a dream to book for a serial planner, limited but excellent options means you can’t go wrong!
Related Post: A Guide to The Cotswolds Village of Broadway
Slaughters Manor House, Lower Slaughter
A beautiful 17th century French style manor, Slaughters Manor House is perfect for a luxury weekend break and will always be my personal favourite as it was the location of our beautiful autumn wedding back in 2018.
Cosy up with a glass of wine in one of their lounges in front of a fire or have afternoon tea on the croquet lawn, this is a truly beautiful boutique hotel with lovely countryside views.
The Slaughters Country Inn, Lower Slaughter
Owned by the same company as Slaughters Manor, Slaughters Country Inn is directly across the road and a more informal country pub setting. The food is a little on the pricy side, however every time I have eaten there, both the food and the service have been excellent.
In the winter, I always make a bee line for the sofa by the Inglenook fireplace with a glass of red wine for a cosy afternoon and in the summer, replace the red for white and sit on the outdoor terrace overlooking the River Eye and postcard perfect views of Slaughters Manor.
The Inn also has 31 rooms, including 6 cottages. We booked some of the rooms out for family for the wedding and the rooms I saw were well decorated and spacious.
Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter
I have never been inside Lords of the Manor, only admired it from the outside, however it has an excellent reputation for superb food and as a well run luxury boutique hotel. Looking at pictures of the décor, I suspect it is a little too traditional for my taste, but a good pasta with an even better glass of wine would make me forget such things!
When To Visit Lower and Upper Slaughter
The Slaughters are beautiful at any time of year, however these villages are dinky and it can get rammed full of tourists in the summer (particularly over weekends), so I would avoid then if possible to maximise your tranquil country escape.
Spring brings lots of daffodils and tulips lining the banks of the river and the whole village turns honey red coloured in the autumn with the turn of the trees. We were also lucky enough to stay at The Slaughters Manor House once after a particularly spectacular snowfall, where the entire place looked like a magical winter wonderland!
Top Tip: Another reason to try and visit out of peak season, the parking is tricky if you are not staying at one of the hotels or eating in the restaurants, your only option is on the road and there really aren’t that many spaces.
Final Thoughts: The Slaughters in The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter are two of my favourites in the area and really are everything I love about the English countryside.
Even if you only have a couple of hours to explore, that should be more than enough to enjoy these lovely places, but extend it into a weekend if you can and add on lots of relaxing and exploring nearby Bourton-on-the-Water for a more lively afternoon.