Thyme describes itself as a ‘village within a village’, thanks to its layout of restored, historic buildings in the heart of the Cotswolds countryside. But don’t be fooled, despite the sprawling grounds and impressive buildings, it truly is a country idyll that you can call home.
The hotel, restaurant and spa is a family affair, created with love by the Hibbert family. Caryn, a doctor by trade, moved back to the Cotswolds with her family to restore these old buildings to their former glory, creating this unique destination. Her son Charlie trained at Ballymaloe and Quo Vadis in London, before taking over the kitchens at Thyme.
Meanwhile daughter Milly is the drive behind Thyme’s brand development and marketing, in particular the launch of the family’s Bertioli by Thyme brand, a destination for all things interiors and fashion (more on this later).
In other words, it truly does feel like you’re spending the weekend at your family’s cosy country home.
There are several room options on the estate and honestly, you’ll have a hard time choosing which one to book. They are all dispersed across the houses and cottages on the estate, each accessible via picturesque gravel pathways surrounded by gardens.
Each room is totally unique, with colours inspired by their botanical names and decorated with carefully sourced antique pieces and plus furnishings which will make you feel at home despite the luxuriousness of it all. It’s the little touches, such as the complimentary trug of goodies, plus a minibar of delicious liquors, teas and coffee, that make this stay so memorable.
We stayed in one of the gorgeous garden room and almost had to be physically manhandled away from the gigantic freestanding bath and the outdoor fire pit.
The food almost deserves its own write-up, that’s how good the menu is at the Ox Barn. Chef Charlie has a knack for making the simplest yet mind-blowing dishes using mostly locally sourced ingredients, including the fruit, veg and herbs grown by the team of gardeners on site.
Of course, the menu changes seasonally, but you can expect to feast on such delights as Wild garlic malfatti, artichoke & nettle, Confit guinea fowl, potato, pancetta & black olive and Hogget, puntarella & anchovy.
Pre or post dinner, head over to the Baa Bar (it quite literally includes sheep-shaped seats) to taste the botanical cocktail menu, made with homemade cordials, shrubs and infusions with fresh flowers and herbs from the garden.
Before you head off the next day (sadly all good things come to an end), do stroll over to The Swan pub, which sits at the heart of the village of Southrop, adjacent to the green just outside Thyme. Dating back as far as 1606, it features low slung ceilings and roaring fires, complete with sofas for cosy feasting and two walled gardens for lazy, long summer lunches.
It wouldn’t be a proper break without a bit of pampering now would it? Tucked away in the grounds beyond the main house is the Meadow Spa. This little oasis of calm isn’t just a place for mindfulness and meditation, it also provides heavenly treatments that are the perfect antidote to the stress brought on by hectic lives.
Treat yourself to Aurelia beauty treatments including the bespoke 60 massage using Aurelia Probiotic Skincare oils (a must) or the holistic probiotic facial designed to lift, define and sculpt features Aurelia’s Natural Face Lift™.
Before or after the treatment – decisions, decisions – do meander over to the adjoining spring water swimming pool and hot tub, complete with a state-of-the-art filtration system for a chlorine-free environment. In its walled garden setting, it is a serene, quiet place.
Opening in 2022 at the spa is the Botanical Bothy, designed by Caryn Hibbert as an innovative addition to the Meadow Spa at Thyme. The simple space will instil warmth, tranquillity and calm thanks to rituals and treatments, and is inspired by her background in medicine and a love of nature.
Using Thyme’s Bertioli products and fresh herbs from the gardens, bespoke rituals combine the healing power of breathing, fragrance and thoughtfulness to nourish both body and mind. A true journey to relaxation, with a primary focus of simple paced diaphragmatic breathing combined with fragrant and healing botanical essential oils that are rooted in precious wild life habitats and immerse you in the fragrance of the wild.
Make sure you take a bit of the spa home with you thanks to the Bertioli Beauty range, inspired by the nature surrounding Thyme. With sustainability at its heart, the range is a simple and elegant solution for everyday bathing, eliminating throwaway plastic and significantly reducing our personal carbon footprint. I particularly love the breathing balm.
As previously mentioned, Milly curates Thyme’s on-site store and its expanding brand. This includes Bertioli womenswear, a gorgeous range of loungewear and eveningwear adorned with floral and botanical prints hand-painted by founder Caryn, who is inspired by the rich botanicals that inhabit the countryside around Thyme, with particular focus on the woodlands, the gardens and wild spaces.
The ethos of the label comes courtesy of Patricia Bertioli, Caryn’s late mother, who claimed, “Nothing clashes in nature, darling!”. I couldn’t agree more.
In a bid to move away from trend-led collections, the patterns will remain in the collections for years to come, so you can build outfits that take you effortlessly from day to night, including the gorgeous silk set pictured on Milly above.
By buying a piece to take home with you, you are also being kind to the planet. Bertioli by Thyme is part of ‘1% For The Planet’, a global movement of businesses giving back to wildlife with every sale.
Rooms start from £335 B&B for mid week stays and prices from £395 B&B for weekend stays.