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A Very Cowley Christmas

Published: 12th December 2014

Travel blogger, freelance editor and designer, Lucy Dodsworth got festive at Cowley Manor for their Christmas shopping event. With a Wizard of Oz, theme, plently of cocktails and a bath of baubles, this is what she discovered.

At Cowley Manor, near Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, contemporary design meets the classic English country house to create a hotel with a serious wow factor, and at Christmas it shines brighter than ever.

Each year the hotel is transformed into 'the most exclusive shopping address in the Cotswolds' for a Christmas pop-up shop in aid of the charity Winston's Wish. It's seriously popular too as cars stretched all the way along the hotel's driveway. At the entrance snow was falling as a choir from nearby St Edwards Prep School sang carols, in a scene that could've come straight out of a Christmas card. But inside it was more Christmas meets the Emerald City. The event has a different theme each time year and this year's was The Wizard of Oz, complete with a wicked witch, ruby slippers and a yellow brick road.

A log fire and hot mulled wine welcomed us in from the cold into the foyer, sparkling with Christmas decorations. The whole of the hotel is taken over for the event, with 30 different food, fashion and giftware brands spread all across the hotel. Downstairs the billiard room table was used to display handmade jewellery and local Chase Distillery gin, the lounge was turned into a Lucy Choi shoe boutique and the bar became a Harvey Nicholls food hall.

Then upstairs each bedroom was home to a different brand, with a mixture of famous names and new local talent. There was everything from sheepskin coats and cashmere blankets to toiletries from in-house spa brand Green & Spring. But almost as interesting as what was on sale was the opportunity to take a look around each of the hotel's rooms.

Cowley Manor's 30 bedrooms are split across the main house and the stable block and described as "Good", "Better", "Great" and "Exceptional" depending on their size and features. Each was different, highlighting the historic features of the house and adding a modern twist. The best of the lot is unsurprisingly the "Best" room, taken over by beauty brand Space NK for the night. The four poster bed was used to display their gift sets while the bathroom was turned into a make up studio, with its two-person bathtub filled with Christmas baubles.

A mince pie and cocktail later we were well into the Christmas spirit. Though the winter weather did mean that an exploration of the hotel's 55 acres of grounds as well as the pools and spa will have to be on hold until the summer I know what I'm putting on my list for Father Christmas this year.

Cowley Manor is a country house hotel fused with award-winning contemporary design and architecture, Victorian cascades, lakes and gardens that inspired Alice in Wonderland, and a modern spa, all hidden in a secluded Cotswold valley. Rooms from at 150 per night.

Take me there!

Lucy Dodsworth
Lucy is a travel writer and web designer from Cheltenham. She describes herself as "Part-time traveller and full-time travel obsessive". Read about her travel experiences on her blog, On the Luce. You can follow Lucy on Twitter.

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