This season, as the day to day overwhelm creeps back up, it’s all about spending time with number one. A solo staycation is the order of the day, a blissful 24 hours of peace and quiet. And on the subject of spending, how about a little retail therapy? Bicester Village’s latest charity DO GOOD pop-up is well worth the road trip, and since this is a feel-good staycation, it’s imperative to find a sustainable transport option, too. Rebecca Cox reports…
The Ultimate Cotswolds Eco-Road Trip
How To Spend It
Online shopping has a time and a place, but there’s nothing quite like a full day of solo browsing in real-life boutiques. They call it retail therapy for a reason; name a better form of escapism than spending a day trying on new clothes (I’ll take everything in Acne and Sandro, thank you please), gazing at the work of your favourite designers, or hunting for a finishing touch or two for your home (Soho Home has landed at Bicester, FYI).
If you haven’t ventured to Bicester Village for a while, it’s been slowly but surely transforming itself into the UK’s ultimate shopping destination. Book yourself into the Apartment for a chic base for your purchasing plans, and if you simply can’t be trusted to shop alone, enlist the services of the highly skilled personal shoppers, who will fill one of the gorgeous personal shopping suites with pieces picked just for you. It’s the place to see and be seen; I had been sipping a latte on the Apartment terrace for roughly three minutes when I spotted a favourite designer, Bella Freud, on site celebrating her new pop-up and hosting an event for members and guests.
Speaking of unmissable pop-ups, if you’ve pledged to buy less and make more planet (and purse) friendly buying a priority this year, Bicester’s pop-up collaboration DO GOOD hits all the right notes. The pop-up boutique is back for another year – this time in celebration of 30 years of Women for Women International and 10 years of Smart Works. Expect a curated mix of vintage, pre-loved and new designer pieces from the likes of Jenny Packham, Never Fully Dressed, Missoma and more. The best part, though? 100% of proceeds go directly to both Smart Works and Women for Women International as part of the DO GOOD Unlock Her Future campaign, which supports women in countries affected by conflict and helps women around the world to reach their full potential. DO GOOD at Bicester runs until 4 October | thebicestercollection.com
What To Eat
Before you wrap up the spending portion of your staycation, grab a bite in one of Bicester’s outstanding selection of restaurants and cafés. We recommend the crab tortellini at La Tua Pasta or an indulgent brunch or late lunch at Café Wolseley. If you’re eating on the run (to more peace and quiet on the open road), grab a bite from Berenjak’s Persian street food pop-up.
Hit The Road
Any road trip deserves an outstanding car to carry you. When you’re riding solo, you’ll be needing a good on-board computer system for navigation and entertainment (a nice loud radio for in-drive karaoke is essential). The MINI Electric was the chariot of choice for this solo adventure, and with a battery range of 145 miles there’s no stress of recharging on the go if you’re staying in the Cotswolds for the duration of your rest and, well, recharge. The car is perfect for nipping through winding country lanes marked by picturesque Cotswold stone walls, with nothing but fields, leaping lambs and the occasional dream cottage for as far as the eye can see.
Solo Staycation: Cotswolds Hotels
There are a host of outstanding Cotswolds hotels to choose from for your night of solo sleep. I laid my head at Minster Mill, where the rooms are spacious and comfortable, the food is outstanding (the warm chocolate tart alone is worth the journey), and the local village is a perfect rambling spot. Read our full hotel review here.
No solo staycation is complete without an indulgent spa experience and when you’re in the Cotswolds there is no better choice than Bamford Wellness Spa at Daylesford Organic. An oasis of calm, white-washed wood, natural materials and eye-wateringly large crystals, there are endless quiet corners for a moment of reflection, but the true healing takes place at the expert hands of Bamford’s therapists. Opt for the superlative full body massage in case all the road tripping has left any tension in your body. (Although we suspect your credit card will have done most of the heavy lifting.) Before hitting the road, stock up on supplies from the farm shop and grab a nut butter protein smoothie from the Orchard Bar for the journey. All this indulgence requires refuelling, (even if your electric car doesn’t).
For more details about the MINI Electric visit mini.co.uk | To plan your solo staycation to Bicester Village check out thebicestercollection.com | To book a stay at Minster Mill visit minstermill.co.uk | Plan your next spa break at Bamford Wellness Spa at daylesford.com