The English countryside, specifically the Cotswolds, has been on my travel list ever since I visited London in 2019. As much as I love a bustling city and all it has to offer, there are times when I crave a quieter trip. Nestled in the heart of the green, picturesque Cotswolds countryside is Stow on the Wold, a charming market town that has been attracting visitors for centuries.
With a history that dates to ancient Roman times, this idyllic town in the Cotswolds offers visitors a unique burst of old-world charm despite being just about two hours outside of London. From ancient churches and quaint shops to cozy tearooms and art galleries, there is something for everyone in this delightful, dog-friendly town.
As one of the larger towns of the Cotswolds, Stow on the Wold not only has plenty to do but also makes a great travel base if you want to explore the surrounding area. From accommodations to restaurants, in this guide you’ll find everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the delightful town of Stow on the Wold.
Stow on the Wold Travel Guide
Stow on the Wold gets its name from the Saxon word “stow,” meaning holy meeting place, and “wold,” meaning open, hilly land. In short, the town’s name means Holy Place on the Hill. It is the Cotswolds’ highest town. And thanks to several intersecting roads including the Fosse Way, became a natural hub for trade and merchants.
Stow on the Wold once flourished as a center for the wool trade, which is reflected in the town’s architecture that still stands today. Narrow alleys, or tures, can be found throughout the village, which helped traders and farmers count their sheep and herd them into the market square for selling.
Today, Stow on the Wold’s market square is now public parking for the town. But despite its modernization is still loaded with historic charm, grand houses, and old churches that transport visitors to another time.
Best Things to Do in Stow on the Wold
Although Stow on the Wold is a small town, there’s still plenty to do in and around the village.
If you can and if you’re comfortable driving in the UK, I highly recommend renting a car. There are a handful of neighboring towns and sites. And although I got along just fine with a taxi, these are limited and there is no Uber-like in the US or in large cities. Taxis in this area are all private. And through some trial and error of my own, I found it best to coordinate ahead of time via Whatsapp with drivers. Your hotel can usually recommend a few people. And then you work with the drivers on your own to arrange pick-ups and drop-offs.
PRO TIP: Most taxi drivers don’t work on Sunday unless this is arranged ahead of time. And the buses don’t run between towns on Sunday either. If you’re choosing a day to stay in Stow On the Wold and wander around locally, I recommend doing so on a Sunday to avoid any issues.
You can obviously make your trip as short or as long as you want. But I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time if you want a quicker countryside experience.
Go Antique Shopping
The Cotswolds are notorious for antique shops. And even if this isn’t your thing it’s still worth visiting a few just to take a look. There are a handful of antique shops located directly in Stow on the Wold offering lots of quirky items as well as beautiful Royal Albert vintage tea sets and other home goods.
Wander and Shop Around Market Square
One of my favorite ways to get acquainted with a new destination is to walk it. And in a small town like Stow on the Wold, you have no excuse not to! You’ll find art galleries, coffee shops, pubs, and shops that carry locally made goods. I found a bunch of really special souvenirs including a wool blanket, a flower press, candles, bath salts, and some clothes.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Clothing: Pom on the Wold is an adorable boutique with amazing customer service, serving up cottage-core fashion from British and Scandi designers.
- Furniture: The Cotswold Company offer gorgeous, traditional country style, but with a modern feel. Sadly, they don’t ship to the US, but if you’re able to arrange shipping on your own, they’ll deliver locally or to a port of your choice.
- Home Fragrance: Home County Co. sells candles inspired by different UK destinations. This family-owned company started in a kitchen, and still pour their candles by hand on their farm.
Don’t Miss the Historic Village Stocks
Blink and you may miss it. In the square you’ll find a small patch of grass with what looks like old wooden beams. Although it’s not much, these are remnants of medieval penal stocks, used to hold unruly folk via ankles or wrists for humiliation to the public. They date back to the 15th century and are a major Cotswolds landmark.
See the Hobbit Door at St. Edward’s Church
Built between the 11th and 15th centuries, Edward’s Church is a beautiful stone church nestled near the market square. Here you’ll find an ancient wooden door flanked by two yew trees that looks like a portal to another dimension and rumored to be J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration for the Doors or Durkin in Lord of the Rings since he was a frequent visitor to nearby Moreton in Marsh. Even as someone who isn’t a LOTR fan, this is something magical to see. It truly looks like something from a storybook.
Book a Traditional Afternoon Tea
No trip to the country (or England!) is complete without some afternoon tea. Huffkin’s and Lucy’s Tearoom both offer afternoon tea, as well as a selection of food and baked goodies throughout the day.
Take in the Views
Just beyond the city center you’ll find breathtaking views of greenery and rolling hills. Grab your sneakers and enjoy a relaxing scenic walk beyond the market square.
Visit Bourton on the Water
Just a short drive south of Stow on the Wold is Bourton on the Water. This place looks like a fake movie set, with brick houses lined along a shallow river and multiple foot bridges connecting both sides.
I personally found Bourton on the Water to be more commercialized than Stow on the Wold, but it is worth a short visit just to see the river. While you’re there, you may as well also stop by the model village to get a giant’s view of the entire town.
Take a Trip to Daylesford Farm
If you’re heading to London, or if you want to take a day trip, then you can’t miss Daylesford Farm. It’s part grocery store, bakery, garden center, and home goods store. If you’re staying in the country for a longer period, stock up on organic vegetables and meat, and even bulk items at their zero-waste grocery section. I personally fell in love with their home goods. They have everything from serving boards and dishes to table linens and farmer’s market bags.
Best Places to Eat in Stow on the Wold
The Porch House
Address: Digbeth Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1BN
The Porch House place also doubles as a place you can stay at, as it’s the oldest inn in England! But don’t let that fool you; the interior of this restaurant has been thoughtfully cared for while also maintaining quirky original character and unique vintage décor. Don’t miss the sticky toffee pudding for dessert. It’s a need, not a want.
Address: Digbeth Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucetershire GL54 1BN
The Hive is a cute, buzzy place (pun intended) serves up breakfast and lunch. They have a great assortment of freshly baked pastries if you’re looking for something lighter than a full breakfast or just want to pop in for a snack.
The Old Butchers
Address: Park Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AQ
Although this was sadly closed for the night when I visited, The Old Butchers came highly recommend by the front desk staff at my hotel, my taxi driver, and others. This restaurant actually did used to be an old butcher shop, and like the name suggests, focuses and prides themselves on meat.
Best Places to Stay in Stow on the Wold
Part of the charm of staying here is that there aren’t traditional, large hotels in Stow on the Wold. Instead, there are there are some great inns with more of a boutique hotel vibe. Don’t be fooled by outside appearances – all of these accommodations have been thoughtfully updated and have their own delightful aesthetic.
The Old Stocks Inn
Address: The Square, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AF
Despite its name, The Old Stocks Inn is fully renovated with pops of punch color while maintaining charm with exposed beams and bricks. Each room is different, and you’re allowed to select the exact one you want. (They also have a great dinner; I’m still dreaming about the cheese and mushroom tart.) Located right in the market square.
The Sheep on Sheep Street
Address: Sheep Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AG
Part pub, hotel, and restaurant, The Sheep on Sheep Street has it all. Their bespoke updated rooms still boast character, and their restaurant is well known for their wood-fired pizza. Located just outside the square (a less than 3 minute walk.
The Porch House Inn
Address: Digbeth Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1BN
Stay at the oldest in in England at The Porch House Inn. Just like many of the inns here, each room is unique in its own right, and two are dog-friendly. Think classic, countryside chic.
Address: Fosseway, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1JX
Located off Fosse Way, a short drive from Stow on the Wold’s city center, you’ll find Number Four. It has an intimate, romantic feel, and it’s restaurant is gray for those looking for a finer dining option within the village.
Stow in the Wold is a delightful town in the middle of the Cotswolds in England, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re looking for a quiet break from the busy London lifestyle. There’s just enough stuff to do so you won’t get bored, but this is a relaxing destination where you won’t feel like you need to start your days at 7am and end them at midnight to see everything.