24 Hours in the Cotswolds with Sapling Spirits and The Fish Hotel

Boasting picturesque views and good drinks, Sapling Spirits and The Fish Hotel know how to create a detox retreat.

As a lover of the film The Holiday, getting to visit the Cotswolds has always been on my ‘must travel’ list. I didn’t realize just how much I’d be living my dream of being in the film by leaving the hustle and bustle of London for 24 hours and swapping it for a relaxing, nature-centric trip hosted by The Fish hotel and Sapling Spirits.

Nestled in the Cotswolds is the award-winning hotel The Fish. The hotel — which is part boutique and part adventure hideout — can be discovered on the 500-acre Farncombe Estate and comprises of a mix of accommodations, from hideaway huts and treehouses on the large property to suites and rooms inside the hotel itself. Sitting amongst forests and hills and trails upon trails, The Fish is a retreat without being entirely remote. I was lucky to snuggle up in my own hideaway hut that feature a stunning skylight, a double bed and a standalone tub that I soaked in twice in 24 hours. As a dog lover, what really surprised me was just how much The Fish catered to our four-legged friends — including dog bathing stations and a dog playground on the grounds. It’s that ethos — nature and relaxation first — that separates The Fish from other hotels.

What separates The Fish from other hotels is their commitment to both relaxation and the environment. A few years ago they announced they would be partnering with UK spirit company, Sapling Spirits, who are a force in creating sustainability within the drinks industry. The partnership between The Fish and Sapling is even more apt given that their wheat is grown in the Cotswolds and spirits are distilled right on The Fish’s doorstep.

While learning about Sapling’s work, what I loved most is that, with every bottle sold, they plant one tree — even noting the tree number on the cork so you can see exactly where your tree has been planted. As part of our excursion, we planted 50 trees on The Fish’s lush property and learned about the proper planting techniques for them to grow and thrive. Although 50 might seem like a lot, it’s just a drop in the bucket for Sapling’s real goal: plant 1 million trees by 2027. Similarly, The Fish boasts their own initiatives to create a sustainable staycation spot — from green energy, to waste reduction, and ensuring that the wildlife and nature that surrounds them is protected. 

After planting trees and having zen time in my hideaway hut (affectionately called ‘Snout’), we visited The Fish’s restaurant and private space to attend a zero-waste cocktail masterclass with Sapling’s cocktail mixer extraordinaire. Although it may not seem like the obvious choice for a relaxing and sustainable project, but much of what we used in the drinks — including Sapling spirits — are treats and liquids that would be available at home already. That evening, we tucked into our dinner at The Fish’s “Feasting on the Deck” which takes the name ‘Slippery Slope’ in the winter. There, we all devoured a multi-course feast cooked in front of us, which included fondue, roasted pork belly, cream potato, apple strudel and more. And, naturally, we sipped on Sapling and champagne all evening.

At the crack of dawn, I began my day with a soak in the tub before putting on my wellies that, gratefully, The Fish provided, and trekked around the property. On my strolls, I was able to see wildlife like deer, pheasants and foxes, in addition to seeing other aspects of the property, like large ponds and green spaces. Walking around nature, it’s a stark reminder that it’s important not to forget about the work of sustainable brands like Sapling Spirits and The Fish and what they are doing to protect what we sometimes take for granted.

As part of their focus on bringing together sustainable initiatives and relaxation practices, Farncombe also created a wellness space called The Zen Den situated on the estate. There we were provided with a guided breathing exercise, learning about breathwork and it’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety. In the least dramatic way, the experience was life-changing — I’ve never focused on my breathing and how I carry myself before and left feeling revived and centred. Since the initial exercise, I’ve been using it in my routine and it’s provided much-needed zen over the holidays.

If 24 hours in the Cotswolds taught me it is just how integral partnerships like the one between Sapling Spirits and The Fish are. Rather than it feeling forced or gimmicky, it’s a collaboration that makes sense for both — two brands that want to change the world and give something back to the environment. For Sapling, they can share their spirits with visitors from far and wide that have their own The Holiday getaway at The Fish. For the hotel, they get to be part of Sapling’s forward-thinking initiative to make the drink industry more sustainable by providing the land and greenspace for the brand to plant trees. For us, we get to enjoy a relaxing, detox staycation while sipping the very best gin I’ve ever had. What could be better than that?

Learn more about Sapling Spirits at saplingspirits.com and The Fish Hotel at thefishhotel.co.uk.

Words Kelsey Barnes
Special thanks Sapling Spirits, The Fish Hotel, & BellCo

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