Discover the timeless elegance of Bruern Cottages, just one of the luxurious places to stay you can book through Michael Paul Holidays.
Have you ever dreamed of owning a country retreat? Wished for a rural escape where you can relax in elegant surroundings? It’s a dream that many have, but the cost puts it beyond the reach of most people.
A stay at Bruern Cottages near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire may be the next best thing. These cottages are decorated in beautiful country house style, and the elegant decor and attention to detail mean you’re sure to feel like the Lord or Lady of the Manor.
I was recently invited to spend a night at Bruern Cottages, thanks to Michael Paul Holidays. It certainly ranks as one of the most fabulous places that I’ve been lucky enough to stay in.
Who are Michael Paul Holidays?
Michael Paul Holidays are a Bristol-based holiday property agency, who specialise in 4 and 5 star holiday properties. They offer a fabulous range of accommodation, from log cabins with hot tubs, to modern eco lodges, and of course pretty country cottages.
They cover the whole country, from the North of Scotland down to the south coast, and more properties are being added to their portfolio all the time.
The company was established by Michael Paul, who has several decades of experience in the industry. Michael was there to greet us when we arrived at Bruern Cottages, and he explained the ethos on which his company is based.
Unlike some other agencies, Michael Paul Holidays take price in checking every property themselves. They will only list a property on their books if both the facilities and the customer service provided are of an exceptionally high standard.
And Michael Paul Holidays also provide a high standard of customer service themselves. You can book your holiday directly through the Michael Paul Holidays website, which ensures that you get up-to-the-minute information on price and availability.
But if you prefer to speak to someone about your booking, their customer service telephone line is open 9am to 9pm on weekdays. They will be able to answer your queries, and even provide personalised recommendations based upon your requirements.
History of Bruern Cottages
The history of Bruern Cottages stretches back to the late 19th century. They occupy the former Bruern Stables, which were completed in 1882 to accommodate the horses, carriages and grooms of Bruern Abbey. Bruern Abbey was the house built for Sir John Cope in 1720, and was rebuilt following a major fire in 1780.
Despite the name, Bruern Abbey was never a religious establishment. In fact the ‘real’ abbey was a Cistercian Abbey located a short distance away from where the stately home was built. The abbey closed following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th Century.
Bruern Abbey was eventually bought by Michael Astor and his wife Nancy, the first female MP to take up her seat in the House of Commons. By the time of Michael Astor’s death, the stables had fallen into disuse, and in 1984 Judy Astor sold Bruern Abbey. You can still see its imposing entrance across the road from the Stable Yard.
Judy Astor started converting the properties into luxurious self-catering holiday accommodation in 1992. The stables and carriage house of the Stable Yard have been transformed into beautiful country house style cottages. Further cottages are located in other buildings including the mill which served the monastery.
A Stay at Bruern Cottages
I was invited to visit Bruern Cottages with a small group of travel bloggers. We would be staying in two of the cottages: Sandown, which used to be the carriage house, and Aintree, which is one of the larger cottages.
After driving down from Shropshire, I arrived at Bruern Cottages late on a cold November evening. You can pull up in front of the cottages to unload your luggage, and then move your car to the parking area, tucked away to the side of the Stable Yard.
We were planning to meet up in Aintree for dinner, but my home for the night would be Sandown Cottage. And when I walked into the cottage, I can honestly say that it took my breath away.
Country House Elegance
This is no sparcely decorated minimalist cottage. It’s more of a small country house complete with elegant decor and furniture.
Sandown was originally the carriage house for Bruern Stables and this is reflected in its high ceiling and open-plan layout. The walls are decorated in subtle shades of green/grey, and artwork is tastefully dotted around the space.
The focal point is this antique pine mantelpiece, which was originally in Bruern Abbey. A basket of firewood and kindling is provided and on a cold evening, you can sit cosily on the club fender in front of the fire.
There’s plenty of seating in Sandown, including a velvet upholstered Chesterfield and two large armchairs. The glazed Victorian bookcase is stacked full of books, and there’s a handsome writing desk on the other side of the fire.
But Sandown still feels like a very peaceful and relaxing place to stay. And it’s very family friendly, with high chairs, stairgates and other equipment available on request.
A Warm Welcome
Guests at Bruern Cottages can look forward to a very warm welcome, as they are provided with a delicious hamper of local goodies.
This includes local bacon and sausages, beautiful organic eggs and artisan cheese. There’s also the most amazing yellow butter made from Jersey and Guernsey milk!
A selection of teas and coffees are provided, alongside coffee pods for the Nespresso machine. There’s also apple juice and milk in the fridge, as well as chilled champagne to toast your arrival.
And there’s a tray laid out ready for tea, along with a delicious handmade cake from a local cafe. Bruern Cottages also leave a vase of fresh flowers for guests, which I think is a lovely little touch.
A Fully Equipped Kitchen
The kitchen in Sandown cottage has a fresh and peaceful look. And you’ll find everything you could need for a self-catering stay at Bruern Cottages.
There’s plenty of crockery, glassware and cutlery, and linen napkins are provided. The kitchen is fully equipped with an oven, fridge/freezer, microwave, dishwasher and even a food processor.
Saucepans and utensils are kept close at hand on an oval wrought iron rack, and there’s a selection of cookbooks on the window sill.
The terrace outside Sandown has a wonderful view of the lawn and long border of the garden. And trellises covered in climbing plants give privacy for outdoor dining.
Sleep like Royalty
Sandown has two bedrooms, sleeping up to five people in total. As with the living space, everything is finished to a very high quality, with luxurious linens and beautiful furniture throughout.
The master bedroom is downstairs, leading off from the kitchen end of the cottage. It has a large four poster bed, as well an antique chest of drawers and a rosewood desk made by Terence Conran in his pre-Habitat days.
This room has an ensuite bathroom with a power shower over the bath, and an antique French marble-topped washstand. Towelling robes, fluffy white towels and Elemis toiletries are provided for your use.
A short flight of stairs leads you from the kitchen to the second bedroom.
This room has twin four poster single beds, and is decorated in beautifully calming shades of cream, blue and white.
The ensuite wet room has marble tiling from floor to ceiling, and a power shower. A wash stand runs underneath the window, and as with the master bedroom, Elemis toiletries are provided.
Exploring the Gardens
Following an excellent night’s sleep, I headed back over to Aintree cottage for breakfast. We tucked into a fabulous feast of bacon, sausages and eggs from the welcome hamper, with slices of bread spread thickly with that gorgeous yellow butter.
And after a couple of cups of coffee, it was time to go and explore the grounds. Each of the cottages has its own private terrace, with garden furniture and a barbecue. Some of the cottages have their own secluded gardens, and each has its own particular character.
Directly behind Sandown cottage, you’ll see Bruern’s wide lawn with the Long Border at one side of it. In summer, this 120 foot long border is festooned with flowers in shades of mauves, crimsons, pinks and white. At the other side of the lawn, you’ll see an arched border of Irish Yews.
Further into Bruern’s gardens, you’ll find a stunning archway of trained wisteria and apple trees. In winter, this feature has a stark, austere beauty, but in spring the apple blossom and wisteria fill the walkway with scent and colour.
Visit in the summer months and you’ll see a delightful purple and crimson viticella clematis covering the arches. And the autumn brings a harvest of rosy apples to add colour to the structure.
Beyond the tunnel, you’ll find the cutting garden, where the flowers are grown for the cottages. In spring and summer, these neat beds are filled with an explosion of colour, and clipped box balls offer an architectural edge.
Even in winter, the grounds at Bruern Cottages are beautiful to walk around. So it’s no surprise that Visit England rated them at 100% when they assessed them recently.
Things to do at Bruern Cottages
The cottages at Bruern are so beautifully decorated and so comfortable, that you may be tempted just to make yourself comfy on the sofa and spend your stay relaxing in your luxurious country retreat.
All of the cottages have a selection of books, board games and children’s toys. And if there’s nothing to watch on TV, you can borrow from the DVD collection.
But there’s plenty to keep you occupied if you decide to venture outside. As well as the beautiful gardens, Bruern Cottages has its own spa and swimming pool.
You can relax in the indoor heated swimming pool, or head out to the sun loungers on the terrace overlooking a private Italianate garden.
If you’re feeling more energetic, you could head into the cottages’ private gym to use the weights and cardio equipment.
Or why not indulge in total relaxation at the spa? You can choose from treatments and massages ranging from Indian Head Massage and Reflexology to facials, manicures and pedicures.
Bruern is a very family friendly place to stay. As well as the entertainment in each cottage, there is a Games Room just a short walk away from the Stable Yard. With table football, ping-pong, pool and a 75″ 4K TV with a PS4 and an Xbox 360, there’s plenty to keep adults and older children entertained.
Meanwhile, younger children will love the Wendy House and play cabin. And there’s even a secret den hidden under the stairs for guests staying at Aintree cottage (strictly no adults allowed!)
Exploring the Cotswolds
Bruern Cottages are the ideal base for exploring the beautiful Cotswolds. The cottages sit around a 20 minute drive from Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water, and around 30 minutes away from the beautiful village of Broadway.
These villages are all full of honey-coloured Cotswold stone cottages, and fabulous tearooms where you can indulge in afternoon tea.
Or if the beautiful antiques in the cottages at Bruern have inspired you, there are plenty of antique shops where you can go hunting for the perfect piece to take home with you.
You may also enjoy visiting the Cotswolds Wildlife Park, the Cotswold Motor Museum and the Model Village at Bourton-on-the-Water.
And if you feel like venturing a little further afield, the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon is just a 45 minute drive away. You can visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, watch his plays being performed on stage in the town’s theatres, or spend the day at the fantastic Riverfest which takes place in July.
Bruern Cottages: The Details
Booking your Stay
You can book the cottages through the Michael Paul Holidays website, and you can book for two nights or longer.
Our stay at Bruern Cottages was complimentary, but prices start from £525 for a two night mid-week break in January.
How to Get to Bruern Cottages
Reaching Bruern Cottages by car is simple, taking in a 50 minute drive through the Cotswolds countryside off Junction 15 of the M40, or a 45 minute drive from Junction 9 of the M5.
If you are travelling by train, the nearest station is in Kingham. You will need to take a taxi for the 3 mile drive to the cottages.