Travel review: Make Thyme for the Cotwolds
Emily Murray visits the Cotswolds’ prettiest living larder, a 17-bedroom estate where Kate Moss tied the knot and bedrooms are straight out of a film set.
Nestled in the centre of Thyme, the picture-perfect country estate in the Cotswolds, is pretty St Peter’s Church, where Kate Moss got married. A flick through the visitor’s book reveals Piers Morgan recently enjoyed his stay, while a glance out the window is rewarded with views of Thyme’s manicured grounds, designed by celebrity gardener Bunny Guinness.
Breakfast is served in a soaring medieval barn, and during the day you can relax with one of the estate’s many beautiful books in The Baa, Thyme’s bar and chill-out area (named after the fleecy Cotswold sheep seats nestled between sumptuous velvet sofas).
At bedtime, you ascend to your luxurious room, conceived by BAFTA award-winning set designer and interiors whizz Roger Hall. Every room is home to striking pieces of furniture sourced from nearby Tetbury's famed antique shops, with a nature-inspired colour palette: greens, greys and blues act as a background for pops of bright colour.
But despite the glamour, Thyme is quite literally down to earth: its connection to the land in the most fundamental sense is one of the things owner Caryn Hibbert is most proud of. Caryn estimates that around 85 per cent of the deliciously inventive food served to guests is produced on Thyme’s estate, AKA its very own living larder. The few ingredients they can’t grow themselves are sourced locally and seasonally; sustainable luxury is at the core of everything that happens here.
We are taken for a tour round the kitchen garden and farm by head gardener Sam Austin and culinary director/beekeeper/gardener Daryll Taylor. The pair’s enthusiasm for the land is infectious: after tending to the hens, Daryll proudly points out the curly kale, which accompanied the shepherd’s pie I ate at Thyme’s 17th century inn, The Swan (Kate Moss, who lives locally, is a regular). Meanwhile, Sam is practically jumping for joy as she spies the first tips of asparagus pushing through the soil.
Thyme also prides itself on growing produce you can’t buy in a supermarket, such as yacon, a vegetable that looks like a sweet potato but tastes like a water chestnut. As we discovered that evening, it is excellent served with crab, chilli and blood orange – Waitrose’s vegetable buyers take note.
It’s not just the dining table that benefits from the estate’s living riches: The Baa also takes menu inspiration from the kitchen garden. Daryll creates natural infusions, which are passed to genius mixologists, who combine them with premium artisanal spirits and fresh herbs to create delicious cocktails.
For those guests who fancy getting even closer to the land, Thyme runs cooking classes using seasonal, self-picked produce, and, starting in the spring, will also offer walks with their expert forager, plus guided tours of the kitchen garden.
Although Thyme only opened its doors as a hotel in September 2015 (between 2009 and 2015 it operated solely as an upmarket cookery school), the next stage of development is due by the summer. Plans are in place for a spa in the old piggery and 10 more bedrooms to add to the 17 luxurious rooms already available.
We strongly suggest you get booking, before Mossy or Morgan bags your room…
Rates start at £285 per double room per night on a B&B basis in a double suite in Thyme House. Only children over 12 years old permitted, except in the Old Walls Cottage, Thyme’s accommodation catering for under-12s and dogs.