Nestled into the gentle green hills of the Cotswolds, Thyme is a lot of things—a restored country manor, a fully operational farm, and an easy getaway from London—but don’t call it just a hotel. Because for Caryn Hibbert, who has spent the past 15 years slowly fleshing out the centuries-old estate, the passion project has resulted in far more than your standard (or even your over-the-top) country-house-turned-luxury-hideaway. Though, of course, it is that too. And with its 31 cozy, country-chic guest rooms and quiet, resort-like atmosphere, it’s a wanderlust-inspiring one at that.
Instead, Hibbert has envisioned Thyme as a village within a village, an all-encompassing lifestyle destination. Since acquiring the property in 2002, she has been hard at work restoring its collection of 17th-century buildings, first opening the Cookery School 10 years ago and then adding overnight accommodations as buildings like the Georgian-era Rectory, the Farmhouse, and the individual cottages peppered throughout the grounds, which have been manicured by award-winning landscape and garden designer Bunny Guinness. And now, Hibbert is putting the finishing touches on the property: A full-service spa opened earlier this year, and November will see the addition of the last few accommodations and the launch of the Ox Barn—a fine-dining restaurant carved out of the 19th-century structure built to house the farm’s oxen, and fueled almost entirely by Thyme’s 150 acres of active farmland.
In addition to powering dishes like leeks with fried Wiltshire truffled egg and roast Southrop lamb with braised beans and salsa verde at the Ox Barn, the farm—complete with a kitchen, vegetable and cutting gardens, and chickens, ducks, and two flocks of sheep—is the heart of the property. So when they’re not luxuriating in their powder-pink or tranquil green guest rooms, patrons are immersed in the farm—and the attention to the land it teaches—at every opportunity.
Cocktails enjoyed at the Baa, the property’s guests-only bar, are made with cordials concocted from the garden’s fresh herbs and flowers—and served with an actual straw-blade stirring stick to boot. As are the drinks and menu items served over at the Swan, the property’s laid-back pub, which has served the estate’s hungry inhabitants since 1606 (the property’s history is said to stretch back to Roman times) when it first opened as a bakehouse to provide bread and ale to farmworkers. The Cookery School gives guests the most hands-on experience, as most classes start in the gardens (tours can also be booked separately from Cookery School classes). There, guests will see yesterday’s paper menus being turned into compost and get a close look at how produce is grown and harvested so they can better understand how to bring out flavors back in their own kitchens.
But even if guests choose to spend their time lounging at the spa pool or hunkering down by the fire in one of the common areas, we’re willing to bet they’ll come away with some of that love-of-the-land feeling—though the William Wordsworth–esque, English-countryside vistas are enough to do that on their own.