Oh, how we love to flock west of a weekend, not only for picture-postcard English countryside and divine mellow stone villages, but also for smart shopping at places like Daylesford and Burford Garden Centre, as well as art galleries, antique shops and posh pubs aplenty.

Yes, the Cotswolds are stylish, their roads liberally scattered with 4x4s and the pub regulars more likely to be twirling martinis than downing pints of bitter. And yes, you are entirely likely to spot Cameron and Clarkson, Brooks, Moss et al propping up the bar. But if the Cotswolds were all chic and no sheep, the region simply wouldn’t have the allure that it does. Enjoy the manicured affluence, but dig hardly at all and you will uncover a land rooted in farming and rich in tradition. The sheep-shaped past is evident in the fine churches and manor houses built by wealthy wool merchants and, today, farming still underpins the economy of the area, which covers 800 square miles across six counties. The walking is terrific, the views heavenly. Combine them with cultured towns such as Cheltenham and Cirencester, and you have an unbeatable short break. It will be rural and it will be chic.

hotels in the cotswolds