Inside Calcot & Spa’s Pioneering Rewilding Efforts

By Olivia Emily

4 weeks ago

This luxurious hotel and spa is getting back to nature


In the heart of the Cotswolds sits Calcot, a honey-coloured country hotel with an impeccable spa – and now a pioneering rewilding project. Olivia Emily joined the abundance of new flora and fauna calling the estate home for the night to see what it’s all about.

Rewilding At Calcot & Spa, Tetbury

Left: Calcot's entrance. Right: A sign about rewilding.

© Olivia Emily

 

Calcot feels like another world – certainly a world of its own. Learning your way around is like becoming acquainted with a new village, with honey hued marvels around every corner. A luxury hotel since 1984 but recently more famed for its ever so smart spa, Calcot is advancing in two ways at present. Firstly, there’s The Grain Store, a new health and wellness club with a state of the art sprawling gym, classes and a spin studio, all orbiting a central cafe/bar/generally delightful place to hangout. Secondly, Calcot is rewilding, returning swathes of land to their most natural states – and looking all the better for it. Find lavender springing up on grass patches like miniature meadows, lily pad laden fountains and gorgeous rose bushes climbing the honey coloured walls. The Cotswoldyness shines through it all, the golden stone bouncing with light and beaming its own light across the whole estate.

The journey began 25 years ago, when landowners surrounding Calcot started planting wildflowers and adopting organic farming practices. Flash forward to 2012, and a new woodland area was planted at Calcot, bringing a whopping 21,930 trees to the property. Nearby in Stroud, The National Trust was piecing together its pioneering partnership-based conservation project, which stretches as far as Calcot. The focus is on wildlife corridors, which join habitats together across the area through hedgerows and wildflowers, helping animals – who, afterall, care not who owns the land they’re grazing – move between habitats. Bats, for instance, find their way around using woodland edges, trees and hedgerows.

Left: Calcot's meadow. Right: Inside the spa.

© Olivia Emily

Occupying an expansive 220 acres, Calcot is a vital piece in the local puzzle. Its woods, heritage orchards and meadows have helped plenty of birds, bats, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, insects like bees and butterflies, and even lizards and snakes to flourish. Recently, a Barn Owl has reared three owlets in Calcot’s woodland nest box, while a short eared owl has been spotted onsite and skylark song fills the air all summer. In 2023, more than 80 different bird species were spotted within Calcot’s grounds. Earlier this year, Calcot also welcomed the National Trust’s herd of Belted Galloway cattle with open arms; natural lawnmowers, Belties are experts at munching areas other animals find less appealing, creating grasslands of various heights and increasing the diversity of wildflowers and insects.

‘We believe that the rewilding of our estate not only aligns with our core values of sustainability and responsible tourism but also enriches the experience of our guests,’ says CEO Richard Ball. ‘We hope to inspire others in our industry to follow suit and take action towards preserving our precious natural heritage.’

Calcot's resident beekeeper

Calcot’s beekeeper Martin. © Olivia Emily

Naturally, Chew Valley bees are also resident at Calcot – around 50,000 of them nestled across five natural cedar hives. They feed on the abundance of dandelions and daisies in the wildflower meadows under the watchful eye of beekeeper Martin (who can also teach you all about them if you fancy booking a session). In September, the Calcot team was delighted with its first honey harvest – and equally thrilled guests quickly snapped up the limited jars. Each busy bee flying around 50,000 miles in its 28-day lifetime and producing two thirds of a teaspoon of honey, with three more hives now installed, it’s hoped that the next harvest will reap around 60 jars of Calcot honey.

Not only is all of this a boon for the planet and our dwindling biodiversity (56 percent of species in the UK are in decline, with 15 percent threatened with extinction), but it makes for the perfect stroll and/or learning experience, whether that’s a stroll along the nature trail or a guided walk at dawn or dusk with local naturalist Ed Drewitt. A PoB Hotel, guests can expect the utmost in luxury accommodation, with Cotswold-cosy rooms featuring cocooning interiors, cloud-soft pillows and thick mattresses, and sumptuous bathrooms stocked with delightful botanical products by the English-countryside-inspired brand 100 Acres.

Strolling around Calcot’s main site, you’ll come across plenty of beautifully soothing plants and flowers, melding dreamily with the cottage-like buildings. Over in the spa, a dip in the hottub is accompanied by a few chance encounters with the hotel’s water-loving bees. In the Spa’s lounges, read up on the likes of Lagom and Lykke with a cup of herbal tea in hand, with floor to ceiling windows inviting the ever-so-important outdoors in.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Olivia Emily (@sevenmomentsoflove)

BOOK IT

Double rooms at Calcot & Spa start from £299. calcot.co

Find It: Gloucestershire, Tetbury GL8 8YJ