Guide to visiting Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds

Stow on the Wold

As one of the larger of the charming Cotswolds towns and villages, I think Stow-on-the-Wold makes a great base for exploring the area.

I find it to be a wonderfully charming town. Whether you’re visiting as a day trip or longer stay, I love that Stow offers plenty to its discerning visitors.

My guide to visiting Stow-on-the-Wold takes you through all you need to know about this beautiful market town.

I’ll cover my favourite places to stay and eat, as well as Stow-on-the-Wold walks and what to do when in town. Read on and let me help you plan your perfect visit to this lovely part of the Cotswolds.  

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Stow-on-the-Wold – what you need to know

Where is Stow-on-the-Wold?

Stow-on-the-Wold is the highest town in the Cotswolds and can be found on the historic Fosse Way, an ancient Roman route.

In a sense all local roads lead to Stow, as several important routes connect at the crossroads here.

Stow is in the centre of the Cotswolds, and can be midway between the popular locations of Moreton-in-Marsh and Bourton-on-the-Water. The town is within the county of Gloucestershire. 

Parking in Stow-on-the-Wold

I’m pleased to say that Stow-on-the-Wold parking is relatively good, making this one of the best Cotswolds spots to drive to. There is some time-restricted parking on the square, as well as a longer stay facility on the Fosse Way.

Maugersbury Road in central Stow also has a pay and display car park, and disabled parking can be found at all locations. 

Things to do in Stow-on-the-Wold

1. Stow-on-the-Wold walks

In my opinion, taking a walk to soak up the scenery found in the town – and the breathtaking Cotswolds countryside – is one of the simplest and best things to do in Stow-on-the-Wold. 

The favourite options include:

  • Water Mill to Lower Slaughter loop
  • ‘Battle of Stow’ route
  • Warden’s Way
  • Moreton-in-March route
  • St Mary’s church loop

These vary in length from 4 to 12 miles, and also in difficulty due to the type of terrain. 

2. See ‘The Hobbit Door’ at St Edward’s Church

St Edward’s church is one of almost 100 Grade I listed buildings in Stow-on-the-Wold.

This mediaeval church is known for its ‘Yew Tree Door’ or ‘Hobbit Door’ – that you’ve probably seen all over my Instagram! This can be found when heading around the churchyard to the north porch.

The door is said to have inspired Tolkien himself, and whether or not that’s true it’s certainly incredibly photogenic.

This human-sized, solid wood door is topped by a pretty, intricate arch and framed by evergreen foliage. 

3. Visit the local tearooms

Believe me, the good people of the Cotswolds do cakes, coffee and afternoon tea very well indeed.

With a great choice of tearooms, Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the best places to kick back and relax while being served fluffy scones, freshly baked cakes or more delicate sweet treats.

Take a look at my top picks below for inspiration. Or you could simply wander the streets before popping into whichever local place looks most inviting. 

4. Soak up the atmosphere at Market Square

Stow-on-the-Wold’s charming Market Square is very much at the centre of life in this Cotswolds town – both physically and otherwise.

Market Square in Stow-on-the-Wold

It’s a surprisingly spacious meeting point, lined with quaint pubs as well as plenty of the antique and antiquities shops Stow is famous for.

I think that simply wandering the square, people-watching and dipping in and out of shops and cafés is a lovely way to spend a morning, afternoon or evening in this gorgeous Gloucestershire town. 

5. Cotswolds Cheese Company

With stores located in nearby Moreton-in-Marsh and Burford as well as Stow-on-the-Wold, the Cotswolds Cheese Company has certainly made a name for itself as a supplier of the finest artisan cheeses.

Whether it’s soft, hard, goat’s, blue or ewe you prefer, you can sample and buy them all at this local deli and gift shop. If you’re a cheese lover like me, I know you’ll love this place!

Fosse Gallery was established in 1980 and is renowned for its collection of contemporary works by British artists. It is regarded as one of the most important venues of this type outside London

Located in the Manor House on the square, the gallery holds regular exhibitions and events. It also sells modern artworks that can be yours to own and admire forever. 

Stow-on-the-Wold accommodation

Hotels in Stow-on-the-Wold

From boutique hotels to centuries old inns, Stow-on-the-Wold offers a handful of fantastic accommodation options.

For something nearby, have a read of my guide to the best luxury hotels the Cotswolds.

The Porch House

Address: Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1BN

As possibly the oldest inn to be found in England, The Porch House can be found in the heart of the town.

I think this is one of the best Stow-on-the-Wold pubs for drinking and dining, and it also offers a superb range of rooms.

The style is elegant, countryfied chic. It brings an amalgamation of exposed stonework, floral, checked and striped prints, padded headboards, and deluxe linens.

I love that each room is packed with character. Some have features like a freestanding curved bathtub or a cosy window seat.

The Old Stocks Inn

Address: The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AF

In my opinion, this 17th century pub is also one of the finest Stow-on-the-Wold hotels to be found in the town centre. Despite its age, the Old Stocks Inn is fresh and contemporary in style and outlook.

Think pops of cobalt blue, yellow and tea, modern furnishings, and oodles of comfort. 

Accommodation options range from cosy guest rooms to charming garden rooms and a selection of cottages. The inn also has a bright, stylish bar and restaurant. 

Number Four

Address: Fosseway, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1JX

Number Four is located just outside town by the Fosse Way, an ancient Roman road that runs through the Cotswolds.

With just 18 rooms in total, I love that this hotel has an intimate, romantic feel. Not least because of the honey-toned stone courtyard that the accommodation huddles around. 

The award-winning eatery is one of the top Stow-on-the-Wold restaurants to dine at, while rooms are sleek, well-equipped and comfortable, with luxury linens, flatscreen TVs and mini fridges.

Where to eat in Stow-on-the-Wold

Pubs & restaurants in Stow-on-the-Wold

I don’t think there’s a better way to spend an afternoon than hunkering down in a cosy pub. Luckily, Stow-on-the-Wold offers a number of excellent eateries to choose from.

The Old Butchers

Address: Park Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AQ

Named in honour of the site’s former incarnation, The Old Butcher’s is one of the best places to eat in Stow-on-the-Wold.

With a firm focus on rare cuts of meat, it’s a carnivore’s paradise. It also boasts a pretty impressive wine list to match.

The nose-to-tail ethos is evident throughout the menu, as is the fact that this is very much a family affair.

Husband and wife Peter and Louise are at the helm, while their children oversee front-of-house and quality control. 

The Hive

Address: Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1BN

Every bit as buzzing as its name might suggest, The Hive serves the finest food and drinks throughout the day, from freshly roasted coffee to homemade artisan produce.

Whether you drop in for a drink or delicious Cotswolds brunch, a laid-back ambience awaits at this fully licensed eatery. 

I think the courtyard garden is a delight during clement weather, and well-behaved dogs are also welcomed inside.

The Hive is where it’s at when brunch o’clock arrives, for locals and first-time visitors alike. 

The Bell at Stow

Address: Park Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AJ

Low beamed ceilings, honey-coloured stone and an elegantly rustic look – I love that The Bell has Cotswolds character in abundance.

It’s a great place in which to enjoy British classics done really well, such as a lip-smackingly moreish home baked pie with creamy mash.

Locals and tourists alike flock here for real ale and a seasonal menu that draws on the freshest available produce.

I know you can expect a warm welcome, comfortable and stylish surroundings, and a delicious and very satisfying feast. 

The Sheep

Address: Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AG

Housed in a character 17th century building, The Sheep on Sheep Street is thoroughly modern in style.

As one of the best restaurants in Stow-on-the-Wold, the wood fired pizzas and craft ales bring this timeless Cotswolds town into the twenty-first century.

The menu’s other dishes are also infused with the unique smoky flavour that is The Sheep’s signature.

While the drinks list includes a range of tempting cocktails as well as beers, wines and spirits from all over the globe. 

The Queens Head

Address: Market Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AB

Located slap-bang in the centre of Stow in Market Square, The Queen’s Head is about as traditionally English as you could expect a pub to be. Discover character features in every corner, nook and cranny.

A warm atmosphere can be expected at this welcoming inn that’s open to four-legged friends as well as their human companions.

As well as a moreish menu and attractive selection of drinks, The Queen’s Head is just a stone’s throw from historic St Edward’s church in Stow-on-the-Wold. 

The Stag at Stow

Address: The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AF

Housed in an elegant Georgian townhouse, The Stag can also be found in Market Square in Stow-on-the-Wold.

The setting combines the contemporary and the classic flawlessly to create a refined yet relaxed ambience.

Guests can enjoy the pub’s food in the surroundings of the bar or the restaurant. Options range from hearty fare to fine dining dishes executed with flair and elegance. 

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Cafés in Stow-on-the-Wold

I love that there are so many options for a civilised afternoon tea in the Cotswolds. Stow-on-the-Wold is no different, offering a plethora of cute cafés to choose from.


Address: The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AB

Huffkins Stow-on-the-Wold

This cosy Stow-on-the-Wold café and bakery is also located on Market Square.

Huffkins is an upmarket local venture offering handmade cakes, luxurious hampers and gifts with an afternoon tea theme, as well as the on site café.

As such, I consider it to be one of the top places in the Cotswolds for an afternoon tea. Options include classic, celebration and royal cream teas.

If it’s a lighter treat you crave, peruse the menu ranging from bacon, sausage and plant-based ‘huffkins’ to eclairs, scones and other appealing bakes.

Lucy’s Tearoom

Address: The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AB

Lucy's Tearoom

Lucy’s also occupies one of the listed stone buildings huddled around Stow-on-the-Wold’s main square.

Traditional and family-run, it has a glorious little courtyard garden out the back and a warm, welcoming atmosphere within.

Open daily between 10am and 4pm, I think Lucy’s is perfect for a pitstop while exploring Stow or browsing the antique shops.

Or it’s equally suited to a longer, more lingering lunch break. The ever-changing menu features both plant-based and seasonal dishes. 

New England Coffee House

Address: 1 Digbeth St, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1BN

Attention to detail is the name of the game at the independently-owned New England Coffee House.

Flakes of real chocolate are used to make the hot chocolate, and only the best coffee beans have been carefully sourced.

With every kind of cake or coffee you could dream of sold here, believe me when I say that it’s paradise for those with a sweet tooth or a penchant for caffeine.

The Old Bakery

Address: Fountain Court, Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1BN

The Old Bakery

If you want to sample a traditional British afternoon tea while in Stow-on-the-Wold, The Old Bakery is one of the top places in which to do exactly that.

This welcoming café also offers homemade cakes and light meals.  All food is freshly prepared to order, so I’d say it’s not the place to go if you’re in a rush.

Here it’s all about the genuine welcome, enjoyable conversation – and of course the delicious sweet and savoury morsels made here on site. 

Stow Town Coffee

Address: 2 Wells Barn, Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AA

Stow Town Coffee

This local venture began roasting beans in 2010 and is one of the UK’s smallest commercial coffee bean roasters.

Stow Town Coffee supplies bespoke blends to local businesses, mostly within a 20-mile radius. 

As such it’s all about the coffee here more than anything else. You can enjoy an incomparable cuppa either in the Espresso Bar or the upstairs lounge.

Where to visit near Stow-on-the-Wold

I have no doubt that spending time in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds is highly likely to whet your appetite for exploring more of this glorious area.

While you’re in the region, other top local places to discover include Bourton-on-the-Water and Castle Combe.

Bourton-on-the-Water is known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ due to the River Windrush flowing through it, while Castle Combe is equally charming, historic and picturesque.

Looking for more inspiration? Start with my guide to visiting the Cotswolds or discover my Cotswolds articles:

Or check out more of my Cotswolds villages guides:

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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