As a reward to ourselves for all the work we put into launching our new website, we took a few days off last week, and headed off for a few days, in and around the Cotswolds. We stayed two nights at the wonderful Cowley Manor, a contemporary country house, boutique hotel & spa in….well, Cowley!Just outside Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, Cowley Manor has been a Hotel & Spa since 2002 and has been recognised as pioneering a new wave of country house hotels.On arrival, the first thing that struck us about Cowley Manor (apart from the obvious beauty of the building itself) is the view from inside the hotel, looking out onto the lakes and lawns. Breath-taking…The interior is cool & contemporary with an abundance of modern artwork and sculpture throughout the beautiful old building and its grounds.Old & New has always been at the core of everything we do, so we weren’t disappointed.The staff are friendly and the service is what you would expect of a hotel of this calibre – top notch! They even had a selection of multicoloured Hunter Wellies to borrow….. For us though, the jewel in Cowley’s crown, is the 55 acres of grounds. Its famous gardens include, parklands, woods & meadows, as well as a series of lakes and Victorian cascades…Rain or shine (and we had both) the grounds are truly beautiful. As we explored the gardens and land surrounding Cowley Manor, it was great fun discovering the many pieces of sculpture by post-graduate students from the Royal College of Art….…made all the more striking, seeing modern art & sculpture set in the traditional setting of an English landscaped garden.By the way, local history states that Lewis Carroll regularly visited Cowley village. During his stays, it is said, he drew inspiration for his best known book ‘Alice in Wonderland’, from Cowley Manor and it’s grounds. Croquet anyone?