By Ella Tarn
A weekend trip away to the Cotswolds is what I dream about when it hits 3pm on a Friday. Thoughts of pub walks and cosy dinners in renovated barns fill my mind and I can think of no lovelier way to spend the weekend. My Friday dream finally came true with a trip to the picturesque Thyme hotel in Southrop.
Thyme is quite unlike any other hotel I’ve been to. In fact, I’m not sure the term ‘hotel’ quite does it justice; it’s more like a home from home. The hotel itself is beautiful – I stayed in one of its cottages, which had a huge country-style kitchen, and I half expected Martha Stewart to appear.
If you’re interested in food, you’re in for a treat. The hotel has it’s own kitchen garden, which supplies almost all of their produce. Again, the word garden doesn’t seem to quite fit here. It’s like a perfectly manicured private farmer’s market. It has everything, it seems – I never knew there were so many types of lettuce.
My Friday afternoon dream was complete with dinner in the renovated barn. Thyme runs a series of dinners – Thyme’s Tables – in the Tithe Barn Dining Room with guest chefs bringing you the best of the garden. In the kitchen for my dinner was Oliver Rowe – author of Food for All Seasons.
Oliver’s seasonal cooking ethos was the perfect fit for Thyme. His salad starter reminded me what tomatoes actually taste like. But the star of the show had to be the porchetta with rhubarb compote. Forget about everyday apple sauce to adorn pork, rhubarb is bigger and better tasting (and prettier, too), and all the better for being so very freshly picked.
Dinner is served on a huge communal table with no more than forty people at a time, so it feels like a dinner party – and the wine certainly flowed like I was amongst friends! For such a beautiful surrounding, the atmosphere at Thyme is anything but stuffy, you could hide away in your cottage or make full use of the sheep-themed bar (The Baa – get it?).
For the next Thyme’s Table, Eleonora Galasso will be putting on a Roman Christmas Feast on 10 December. And if you’re looking for ways to make your harvest produce last through winter, Kylee Newton of Newton and Potts will be putting on a jams, chutney and pickles class on 5 November.
Thyme’s Table events are open to hotel guests and non-residents, with further dates to be announced. Prices for dinner start from £75 for four courses (wine flight £50). Cookery classes are priced at £145 per class.
For bookings and further information, click here.
Photography by: Rosalind West (hero shot, second and third picture)