Perched high in the Malvern Hills and with the most stunning views stretching as far as the eye can see is the magical Cottage in the Wood. This superior 3-star, 32-bedroom hotel complete with a 2 AA Rosette-awarded restaurant offers a unique stay in an Area of Outstanding Beauty in Worcestershire.
Cottage in the Wood is the perfect base for hiking and sightseeing in Malvern and its surrounds, and from the back of the hotel, a trail leads directly into the hills. A short drive will take you to the town of Great Malvern, a great place to explore.
Discover the stunning 11th-century priory, beautiful Rose Bank Gardens and Malvern spring water fountain, as well as coffee shops and restaurants. Great Malvern is only a tiny place but is full of interesting and historic English landmarks.
A Little Bit of History
A combination of three buildings make up the Cottage in the Wood Hotel. The Main House, The Coach House and Beech Cottage. Once, the Main House was home to a local landowner, with the other two buildings used for storage.
It was eventually sold on and used as a hotel for many years before the current owners, in 2018, started renovations on the three buildings transforming them into a fabulous boutique hotel, award-winning restaurant and cosy bar.
Are you looking for an extra memorable stay? Best Rooms in The Coach House have a four-post bed, roll-top bath, a record player and sensational views – perfect for a romantic break.
The hotel is in such an elevated position that the views are incredible. The panoramic vista is of never-ending green fields rolling on from the hotel until they reach the magnificent hills stretched across the landscape in the distance.
It is breath-taking, and the bonus is that you get to look at that view from your room, the restaurant, the bar, the outside terrace – just about everywhere!
When you arrive, a warm welcome awaits you from a member of the team. If you are early, you can leave your luggage and head straight out to explore Malvern. I found all the staff to be friendly but a particular mention goes to Harry on reception, who was helpful and cheerful throughout our stay.
Many original features have been kept and mixed with 1920s art deco-designed pieces and 1970s and 80s pop memorabilia. Interior colour palettes of muted green and beige echo the surrounding landscape, while modern crystal ceiling lights add a pop of bling to stairwells and corridors.
Contemporary and traditional artwork adorns the walls and in the foyer, a giant mural of Edward Elgar reminds guests that the famous composer once held a recital in the Main House and lived in Malvern.
Time For Bed
I stayed in the Coach House for the weekend in one of the “Best Rooms”. These rooms have unique features, including a luxurious king-size bed and record player. Yes, that’s right, you get to play vinyl in the comfort of your room.
For me, this is something that I have only experienced at Cottage in the Wood, and after spinning the discs and listening to the Rolling Stones, Beatles and Massive Attack, I am ready to climb into my loft and retrieve my stash of records from the 80s!
If listening to vinyl isn’t your thing (if not, why not?), then relax on the bed with a good book and gaze at the countryside views through the window. Or better still, plan out which walking route to take around the Malvern Hills. Believe me, when I say there are many – we followed a route map and still ended up somewhere else!
The mattress and pillows were very comfortable, and the hotel was quiet at night, despite being at full capacity, allowing me two nights of uninterrupted sleep. Pure bliss!
Bedside tables with art-deco styled lamps and USB wall charging ports are on both sides of the bed – a handy detail. Complimentary high-speed WIFI is available for all guests.
The room has a small modern art deco style dressing table and chair and in a separate area by the door is a wardrobe and side table.
A Room with a View
Triple aspect windows let plenty of light into the room, and two small stools and a table are placed in front of the two main windows for those mesmerising views out to the Cotswolds.
I was in an upper room (31), so not sure whether the ground floor rooms had such a fabulous view as there are lots of tall trees around – they did, however, have small balconies/terraces.
Unfortunately, I was a little underwhelmed with the refreshments tray as it only contained basic tea and coffee sachets and not much else. I feel that a jar with homemade cookies, and maybe a coffee pod machine, would have been a welcome addition to the beautiful room.
Because the hotel ticks all the boxes on so many levels, it is easy to forget it only has a 3-star rating, albeit a superior one, so certain guest expectations may not be cost-effective for the hotel.
The large bedroom incorporates a separate bathroom with an indulgent roll-top bath. It has thoughtfully been placed by the window so you can lie in the bubbles and enjoy the view – but bring bath bubbles with you as there are none in the room. There are, however, a selection of ‘Bamford’ toiletries (handwash, shampoo and conditioner) available for guests to use during their stay.
The hotel is taking steps towards caring for the environment by using large refillable bottles instead of individual miniatures. A great initiative as less waste equals less plastic pollution.
For those who don’t enjoy soaking in a bath, a shower enclosure with a rainfall head will invigorate you after a long day of walking in the hills.
Breakfast in 1919 Restaurant features a menu with cooked options alongside fruit and yoghurts. We found breakfast incredibly busy, and therefore, the service was slow. However, we did turn up at 9 am, which seemed to be the most popular time for most hotel guests – my tip would be to get to breakfast early to avoid a long wait.
Four-legged friends are welcomed at the hotel but not permitted in the main house, restaurant or bar; however, owners can use a lovely outdoor terrace.
Dining at 1919 Restaurant
Dining at Cottage in the Wood is a special event. The interior design of the 1919 Restaurant is beautiful, especially the fabulous wallpaper that features woodland animals and gives the restaurant a wow factor. The staff are well trained, especially Tiff, who delivered exceptional customer service. And, of course, the pièce de résistance are the incredible dishes created by head chef Rob Mason.
A set 3-course menu is available each night and served between 6-9 pm. The restaurant is open to hotel guests and non-residents.
Our thoughts were that the menu was varied and catered for all palettes. The tricky thing was deciding what to choose as we would have liked to try everything on the menu! We got there in the end and have to say every dish we chose was mouthwatering.
At the end of our meal, we agreed that the standards at 1919 Restaurant are on par with dining in London, but half the price!
For Me: Beetroot – Roasted beetroot, goat’s cheese custard, fermented beetroot dressing.
For Him: Ham Hock – a ham hock and duck liver terrine with spiced apple and grape chutney with smoked almonds.
For Me: Cod – Pan-roasted cod, champagne and smoked caviar cream with dill.
For Him: Beef: Braised beef shin, roasted carrot, brown butter mash with red wine and port sauce.
We ordered sides at a supplement charge of £5 for each dish – Tendertem broccoli and garlic and herb potatoes.
For Me: Pineapple – Iced coconut and lime parfait with cardamom cream, pineapple, mango sorbet and gingerbread.
For Him: Chocolate – Layered chocolate delice, hazelnut, malt ice cream and a sherry vinegar caramel.
A varied wine list includes a range of dessert wines and liqueur coffees.
Our unanimous decision on the food was that it was delicious and if we lived nearer we would be regular diners.
Has this menu whetted your appetite? If it has you can make a restaurant booking here
A colourfully decorated lounge with cosy seating and modern pop art gives guests a place to chill out before or after dinner. A wide range of wines, beers and spirits are served from the well-stocked bar.
Would I recommend Cottage in the Wood to a friend?
Without a doubt, this is the hotel to book if you want a comfortable stay at reasonable rates in an outstanding location. Add to that a fantastic restaurant, and you are all set for a stay in the stunning Malvern Hills.
For more information and booking options, please visit the website of Cottage in the Wood.
Cottage in the Wood, Holywell Rd, Malvern Wells, Malvern WR14 4LG
Telephone: 01684 588860
Thank you to Cottage in the Wood for my complimentary stay for the purpose of this review.
Activities Within Great Malvern
Food and Drink
Mac and Jacs is a lovely cafe next to the museum which serves healthy dishes and delicious cake.
Abbey Road Coffee serves excellent coffee and mouthwatering cakes.
What to See and Do in Great Malvern
Great Malvern Priory – the priory has the largest display of 15th-century stained glass windows in England.
Priory Gatehouse – once the gatehouse to the priory, this building is now a small museum.
Rose Bank Gardens – Pretty gardens lead from the high street up into the Malvern Hills with stunning views of Great Malvern Priory.
Belle Vue Island is a small area separating the higher and lower roads in Great Malvern and near the Rose gardens. Here you will find a statue of the composer Elgar (who lived in Malvern), the natural Malvina spring water fountain (yes, you can fill your empty bottle from here) and lots of information about the area.
Route to the Hills Trail is a great activity for all ages, which takes you on a historical trail of Malvern, giving information on the town. I found out visitors once used donkeys to take them up to the Malvern hills, so they didn’t have to walk!
Walking in the Malvern Hills
The Malvern Hills offer some of the most amazing elevated views I have experienced in England for walkers. Numerous walking routes start in Great Malvern and will take you into the hills. I managed to do the following two walks during my weekend stay:
Park the car at Upper Beacon Road (WR14 4EH) and do the circular walk, including the Worcestershire Beacon (425m). It is pay and display, but you can use your ticket at other car parks during the same day.
Park at British Camp (WR13 6DW) and take the pathway leading up from the car park. This route will take you to the Herefordshire Beacon (338m), from where there are incredible 360-degree views.