I love London. Love it. Truly. Little gives me more joy than stomping down its paved streets, marvelling at its always motley display of people and vehicles and action action action.
But sometimes I hate it too. Sometimes I’m tired, and I’ve had a cold so my lungs hurt when I breathe in the polluted air. And the frenetic pace makes me feel weary.
And that is when I turn Victorian. I start talking about reclining after a stint of convalescing, about surrounding myself with calming scents, about salubrious activities like walking and bathing.
Are you having a Victorian moment? If so, I think I have the answer: Thyme. A knot of restored farm buildings in Southrop in the Cotswolds, I found it a tonic to my battered senses.
The Vibe / Extremely English. The sort of England that’s easy to fetishise. Think Cotswold stone walls, topiary, a cosy pub, and the sense that you are being invited to slow down. You might want a tea. You’ll probably feel the urge to lose yourself in a good book while in the bath. You’ll definitely want to amble around the verdant gardens.
The Rooms / All different, all joyously so. I was installed in a green room with a huge bathroom and dedicated make-up space complete with a mirror surrounded by bulbs. Every single room has been thought about properly, practically. There is a space for cosmetics, a nook for a suitcase, a plinth for books, etc.
The Food / Most of what’s served at breakfast, for lunch, and in the spa comes fresh from the kitchen gardens or surrounds. It’s therefore seasonal and completely delicious. If you want more stodge or fancy a drink, Thyme has their own take on that, too: over in the Baa, you’ll find inventive cocktails seasoned with Thyme herbs, and in the award-winning The Swan Inn, which is a stone’s throw away, you’ll find fare primarily from Thyme, along with moreish puddings.
The Spa / The newly-installed Meadow Spa is faultless and perfectly in keeping with the vibe of Thyme. I had a massage in a room upstairs, and was cheered to see the sun streaming in, albeit muted by blinds, because too many spas try to bleach out all personality and actually I think it’s better to feel like the spa is part of the whole. The massage was perfect – I wanted firm, and I got firm, I wanted stress-busting, and I left feeling completely chilled.
My Favourite Bit / The above bathroom. I long for a roll top bath with a window overlooking a garden in London (it is a lofty goal I know), and lying in this one confirmed that I would find considerable pleasure should I ever manage it.
Nearby Stuff To Do & See / Oh I wouldn’t bother. Not because there isn’t stuff to see – the Cotswolds is ripe with beautiful corners – but because Thyme isn’t the sort of place from which you set off to explore. Thyme is the destination. It’s made to mosey around, to loll from pub to Baa to spa to room to garden.
The Official Information / Book at www.thyme.co.uk, from £295 per night.
I love london’s spas. My best experience was in the Ace hôtel