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on 14 May 2011
The poor Cotswolds. This is a region of England forever being misrepresented. It's either portrayed as a posh, honey-coloured hideaway for harangued celebs and upper middle class mums on yoga retreats, or packaged up like a quaint Richard Curtis style film set for twee-seeking foreign tourists. There's *some* truth in both these clichés of course, as there always is, but you rarely get to see or read anything that presents the Cotswolds in any more depth, especially in a guide book. This book, however, is very different.

What Matthew Teller does really well in this new Rough Guide, is not to dispel these stereotypes as myths - because they're not, entirely - but to place them in their rightful context and then move on. The Cotswolds is an astoundingly pretty corner of the country, it's true, but that fact in itself betrays nothing of its heart and guts. This is an ancient patchwork of proud market towns and dyed-in-the-wool rural communities, working hard to overcome the realities of an economic situation which makes it almost impossible to maintain the agricultural way of life it's relied upon for centuries.

Where this book really succeeds is in bringing to light how this has affected the region, by revealing the reality of the Cotswolds today: a world of ancient or obsolete traditions revived in the spirit of "diversifying" (and because tourists love all that stuff), the localisation of the food chain and a subsequent glut of farmer's markets, and an astonishing gastronomic scene that's sprung up in the wake of all this. Add to this the region's plethora of oddball events and attractions, not to mention its serenity and obscenely beautiful views, and there you have it. A bucolic, distinctive, sometimes quirky, and above all - as Matthew writes himself - special destination. Who gives a toss if Jeremy Clarkson lives there or not? Buy this book, because you won't find a better - or truer - one out there, and you'll be led to a Cotswolds the hordes rarely see.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 December 2012
I have recently moved back to south Warwickshire/Gloucestershire border after thirty years of living elsewhere and bought this guide to provide information about the area around my new home and to re-acquaint myself more generally with an area I knew pretty well in my teenage years. It is good to have a guide that covers not only the Cotswold escarpment which forms the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but also the neighbouring areas both north (Stratford-upon-Avon & the Vale of Evesham), south (Oxford & Woodstock, for Blenheim Palace) and west to Bath. This makes a good deal more sense for the visitor than a guide restricted solely to the AONB and should make it easy to devise a suitable itinerary.

Whilst the guide covers the major sights in the area it also provides information on places off the beaten track. There is plenty of information about public transport albeit in many rural areas the options are somewhat limited and a car will be essential for some places/areas. The details of timetables for the area I live in are accurate. There are also plenty of tips for places to stay and eat, the assessment of local pubs & eateries that I have tried being reliable in my view.

By and large this guide isn't as 'sniffy' about the popular places as some RGs although occasionally there is a slightly barbed comment. For example, one rather attractive off the beaten track village that I know is, in a disparaging tone, described as "over-neat". I can only assume the author has some objection to well-kept houses and mowed grass, which is pretty typical of all the villages in the area, particularly those, like the village in question, which are largely conservation areas! I am not quite sure what the residents of such places are supposed to do, and why the author comments in this way about one village when the same could be said of many more villages covered by the book - there is a certain chocolate box quality that you cannot escape in the Cotswolds.

The guide quite properly refers to the impact of large numbers of visitors on some places, like Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold & Bourton-on-the-Water, although the danger of mentioning the less well-known places is that they too succumb to the hordes with even the tiny villages with lanes too narrow to accommodate large coaches subject to the impact of car drivers.

All told though, this is an excellent guide to the area, highlighting a wide array of popular and less well-known places from stately piles, impressive gardens, pretty villages, stunning views, artisanal food producers, pubs & restaurants and more so that it is easy to satisfy a range of interests.
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on 29 November 2012
Having read of this book's focus not so much on the chocolate box picture postcard as on the real Cotswolds I bought it prior to planning a trip with some friends over from India.
It proved a great source of inspiration as to where to go and what to see. Of course we did all the high touristy things, but we also sought out the less well known and planned routes avoiding the masses. Some excellent local food producers were encountered with this book's help - although some, sadly, having gone under in the present economic climate were not to be found when we factored them into an itinerary.
The book is a good read in itself too, breaking the Cotswolds into separate areas nicely.
If you are planning a trip do consider this book, it is well worth it!
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on 26 August 2012
Very detailed, useful descriptions of towns and villages, and includes great maps and guides to new restaurants, pubs, atmospheric cafes.
Helpful information about what to do in each town. Worth the price. We'll be taking it with us.
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on 8 May 2014
Having not been to the Cotswolds before we bought this book to help us get the best out of our short week. It gives very accurate information about all the town, villages and attractions and really made it easy for us to know when things were open and how much the entrance might cost. Being a very popular area we found the 'secret village' suggestions and all the other off the beaten track ideas were of great value. It's great to know where is good to eat and stay too in all the listed places. Just an all round, down to earth, great guide that we used every day and would recommend to anyone wanting to explore this wonderful, area of the country
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on 6 May 2011
If you live in the Cotswolds or are visiting, you will find something new in this book - it is easy to read and clear to navigate your way around.

There is never enough time on day trips or short stays to see all that an area has to offer but this book really helps you make the best of your trip - great ideas and clever facts!

We used it for a family day out and it was the perfect companion...
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on 14 October 2013
Very well written and full of advice as to where to visit. The Cotswolds are beautiful and at this time of year not too busy with tourists. Broadway remains my favourite place. So many hidden secrets though turn up in this guide.
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on 5 December 2014
Very useful and a good reference. A good tour to take is Secret Cottage nr Moreton-in-Marsh. The guide Becky takes you to hidden Cotswold villages, during the day she takes you to her private thatched home for coffee, lunch and in the afternoon a traditional cream tea. Highly recommended.
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on 19 June 2011
This is an excellent quide book to the Cotswolds. It tells you clearly what you need to know to spend a day or a holiday in the various villages. The author clearly knows his subject and I would highly recommend this book.
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on 3 August 2011
I've always liked the rough guide books, having used them a lot while travelling 15 years ago. We've just recently moved to Oxfordshire and I was pleased to find a rough guide to this wonderful area published this year. Whether you want lunch in a country pub or want a drink or meal in the centre of Oxford, not to mention what to see and do and what not to waste your time with, this book has it all.
I recommend this to people visiting the area, but why not give it a try if you live here? You could always get it from your local library first to give it try.
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