Stow is currently my favourite Cotswold town. It has everything you would want from a small market town. Here, I list all my absolute favourites, but there are so many more shops and cafes to explore besides my list.
Stow was originally called Edwardstow, either after a Saxon missionary who lived by the town, or King Edward the Martyr. The word 'Stow' is Saxon for 'Holy Place'. The current name is a reminder that the town is built on a hill (wold), 800 ft above sea level, making it the highest town in the Cotswolds, hence the saying, 'Stow on the Wold, where the wind blows cold"
First, and most important (for me) upon arrival at Stow, is hunt and gather Coffee:
Stow Town Coffee on Sheep Street. The locals love it. There's often a little queue. No sit in, just take away only. Get a double shot if you like your coffee strong. Lovely dog pops his head through the curtain to say hi under the countertop.
The New England Coffee House on Digbeth Street. This is deceptively small looking from the outside. Inside, there are I think four flights of stairs, all leading to sweet little rooms to drink your tea in. The tearoom takes up the whole of this old house, and each room is charmingly decorated in an individual English country style. It's so sweet. Really hard to decide which room you want to sit in. Great rocky roads!
Food for Foodies
Cheese. Mmmmm. The Cotswold Cheese Co. on Digbeth Street. A really great selection of cheeses and crackers to choose from, including local cheeses. Windrush Valley Goat's Cheese is my personal favourite, if you want to buy me some :-) .
Butchers. Lambournes Butchers on Digbeth Street. If you are staying in self catering accommodation, and fancy cooking up a full English breakfast, get your bacon and sausages from these lovely people. Always friendly and helpful. The bacon is delicious. I'm actually getting a bit hungry while I think about it. Some vegetables available here too.
Bakery. Otis and Belle on Talbot Court. This is where you go for your treats. Its not the cheapest option, but the goodies in here are so tasty and high quality. It is so much fun to get your shopping and have a mooch down Talbot Court at the other little shops around here.
Wine. (Are you starting get a picture of what kind of tour guide I am?) Haynes, Hanson & Clark on Sheep St. Looks and sounds posh, but the staff are really friendly and knowledgeable. You can buy a nice bottle of Malbec for £15 or go to town and go wild! Mainly specialise is French wines.
Chocolate. Last, but not least, Cotswold Chocolate Company on Digbeth Street. Ooh, I always go in here on my tours. It's a must. They keep selling out of chocolate sheep lollies, because I like to give them as gifts to my lovely treasured tour guests. Head for the back of the shop and peer through the window to see them making the chocolates. Wonderful to see it all happening on site. And the smell is incredibly good.
With the food and drink sorted, we move on to some the lovely
Gift shops and Boutiques that Stow on the Wold has to offer.
The Curated Store on Talbot Square. It's a pop up shop, selling fashion and lifestyle products from independent local brands. There's jewellery and not overly expensive paintings in here. Really lovely selection.
Law and Co on Park Street. This boutique has it all. Don't be fooled into thinking it's only downstairs with jewellery and lifestyle items. Upstairs, there are rooms with lovely clothes, all of them unique and individual, and really not expensive. Former fashion model, Denise Law set up this shop in 2003 and has been so successful with it, leading to branches elsewhere in the Cotswolds. Read more about Denise here. Her positive can-do attitude fills me with hope for my own Teacup Tours start-up.
Domestic Science in Talbot Court. A treasure trove of deliciously scented candles, vintage finds, enamel tableware, ruffled linen cushions, stationery and toys.
If you want to buy gifts for your pampered pooch whilst you're on holiday, I suggest you go here. The Cotswold Grooming Company. It's a doggy salon and a beautiful little shop. All my guests always want to go in here.
Art & Antiques
Tara Antiques A wonderful antiques shop, with a huge variety of goodie s, displayed throughout an entire Grade II listed Manor House. The building itself is wonderful to explore, and there is so much in here. Staff are really friendly too.
Artysan Cotswolds They have a new website on its way, so the current link doesn't give much info, but they are on instagram, with loads of lovely shots of their paintings and art. I love this art gallery. They sell pieces from local artists, and the selection is so good. The chap who runs it is so friendly too. Highly recommend.