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Dramatically Different Hollywood Glamour in the Heart of The Cotswolds

It shouldn’t be surprising to discover a theatrical, Great Gatsby-esque world of Hollywood glamour and drama behind the unassuming, honey walls of Ingleside House. After all, its owners transformed the Grade II listed, Georgian mansion into a boutique hotel following the success of The Barn Theatre next door, which they revamped from WW2 Nissen hut into a 200-seater triumph, with national treasures including Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley and Helena Bonham Carter starring in its digital lockdown productions.

But once inside, the interior is so flamboyantly eccentric and lavish, it can’t help but surprise. When Ian and Chrissie Carling enlisted design maestros, Concorde BGW for its £1 million refurbishment, they gave them a brief to create the antithesis of "another grey and cream Cotswold hotel.” And they earned standing ovations for their dedication to this, when the curtains lifted in 2021 to reveal an explosion of bold, Hollywood style.

There are 11 individually designed rooms, each with a unique story and named after local people who contributed to the hotel and theatre. We stay in the Wright Room, named after Rachel Wright, Executive director of The Barn theatre next door and manager of Ingleside House.

Like both of the Deluxe Super King Rooms, our edibly stylish space has an enormous, free -standing bath in the corner, before a burnt orange wall. The room is a walk-in sunset, in sumptuous saffrons and deep, frosty blues, accessorised with gold and marble.

The bed head is a velvet, peachy assortment of giant Ladyfinger biscuits, with tastefully clashing cushion prints in fiery ginger and sapphire. There is a deep ochre, velvet sofa which has been converted into a soft bed almost as large as our Superking, for our two children to sink into - and there is still plenty of space for them to run around like demented chimps. A sheepskin is draped over the soft, brown leather armchair beside the bath and the hotel’s glamorous, Art-Deco design is highlighted in the prints on the thick, salmon curtains and blinds across vast windows, through which the sun now pours.

The vibrant orange and blue theme is continued in the giant bathroom, with a feature 18th Century fireplace, a never-ending, orange tiled rainfall shower - which could easily de-grime an entire football team simultaneously - with blue floors and a Twenties-style rug.

And if I am still struggling to get into the character of the Silver-screen siren that this room demands, its luxurious touches provide the final nudge - a generous shelf of Molton Brown toiletries; jars of shimmering bath salts (in the same hues as the room); locally made shortbread treats awaiting us beneath a bell jar; a retro gold and blue Roberts Radio; Nespresso Machine; Dyson hairdryer; fluffy dressing gowns and (praise the Lord) air-con.

Each bubblegum pink door upstairs leads to a different, Daisy Buchanan dreamland, with blushing rose fireplaces, indoor palm trees, emerald walls, heavy, richly coloured textiles and dramatic feature lighting, as well as velvet cushioned window seats with marble, Champagne tables behind freestanding baths.

Down the historic, sweeping staircase is a feature fireplace which roars like the Twenties in the winter, studded with colourful stained glass windows and bold feature walls. This leads into one of our favourite rooms; The Garden Room lounge, with its ice cream pink fireplace, teal velvet Chesterfields and decadent, gold objets d’art.

Even the toilets got the razzle-dazzle memo, with generously bosomed showgirls dancing across the walls of the hotel's “Powder Room."

Behind the hotel, we discover The Firepit, the heated alfresco dining area of the hotel's award-winning, Mediterranean restaurant, Téatro. It’s a leafy warren of colourful parasols and chairs, with enormous heaters, twinkling fairy lights and cosy firepits.

We enjoy a balmy summer evening here on our first night, with a relaxed dinner in its buzzy setting. As the charismatic waiter chats to the other tables, we learn that it attracts a mixture of regulars, tourists and guests enjoying a pre-theatre supper, before watching The Barn Theatre’s musical production, Once. Téatro restaurant deserves its own review, which you can read here.

And we explore Téatro's cosy cellar of suitably flamboyant dining areas at breakfast the following two mornings. Each cosy space shares the same, deep teal and pink colour palette, but in inventively different ways - giant pink flamingos and palm trees explode across the walls of one area, with natural stone walls, exposed bricks, gold tables, secluded velvet banquettes and colourful parquet floors in other nooks.

The historic hotel is a ten-minute stroll from the buttery buildings of the pretty market town’s centre and sits in the heart of the Cotswolds, a short drive from an assortment of chocolate box villages.

If there is one good thing to come out of the pandemic, Ingleside House is it, and we would happily spend a lockdown holed up in this dramatically different mansion.

Ingleside House, 5 Beeches Rd, Cirencester GL7 1BN. Prices from £140 a night.

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