ARC, the herald angels sing. Editor Sophie Ritchie heads to the Cotswolds for a stay at the exquisite ARC Painswick, a spacious private rental property designed for wining, dining and all out reclining
Whilst most of ARC Painswick is tucked away from public view, encountering its wide window-lined dining room from the outside is quite the opposite experience. Flooded with natural light and filled with an enormous dining table, it’s the type of space where you can instantly envisage curious passersby from across the square stopping to peer in at a dinner party in full swing, where every seat is filled and booming laugher permeates the glass panes.
It instantly reminds me of Barcelona’s famous Passeig de Gràcia avenue, when in its 19th century heyday, enormous homes were specifically designed for the city’s affluent residents to go about their days on the upper levels purely in order to see and be seen by the world outside. ARC Painswick certainly fits this bill, a former 15th century wool merchant’s manor house sitting smack bang in Painswick’s modest town centre – although comparatively, this quietly slumbering part of the world probably sees no more than a handful of rush hours per year.
Part of the ARC group, with a sister property in Padstow and further houses mapped out for additional counties, ARC is a curated and crafted collection of remarkable country houses that offers explorers a more sustainable way to travel – encouraging week-long staycations rather than just quick weekenders.
With space for 24 guests, this surprisingly large house is both clever and captivating, juxtaposing historic grade II listed features with seamless, contemporary furnishings courtesy of London-based Parti Architects and design studio Regular Practice. Along with the attention-pulling dining room, the ground floor features a duo of living rooms, snug, handy bar area and even a petite projector room. Search all you want but you won’t find a single TV here – the focus is on socialising together, rather than crowding around a plasma screen.
Ideal for foodies, the beautifully-renovated kitchen will have you donning an apron in no time – if not purely for the purposes of testing out the impressive array of Miele appliances. ARC Painswick also features not one but a trio of staircases, with each set of steps leading towards the property’s nine different bedrooms – where groups of friends and families can rest and recover after a day of revelling.
Each gracefully unique, the renovated abodes make the most of stunning period timber, original windows and large beds lined with crisp white linen. Some feature perks in the form of roll top baths, others showcase dramatic views across the Cotswolds’ surrounding natural beauty.
Minimal meets modern furnishings add a simplistic, uncluttered feel throughout, creating the sense that each bedroom is more like a blank canvas – where individual memories from a visit will act as the acrylic paint and ARC Painswick merely provides the paintbrush. And whilst the sleek bathrooms feature sustainable toiletries in the form of glossy shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles, don’t forget to pack your own hairdryer for the time being, as some tiny details have fallen through the cracks.
Strolling through ARC Painswick’s airy rooms showcases more than just chic furniture too – throughout the home you’ll find plenty of mesmerising artwork dotted about the spaces, with a curated collection of intriguing work from ARC Salon.
Designed to be a rotating in-house cultural program that exhibits the artwork of emerging talent (with a current Garden of Eden theme) ARC Salon’s pieces are there to admire and inspire. Ideal for art buffs, every work is also available to purchase for those who spot something they can ‘picture’ on their own walls at home.
What to do
1 Try a fully-tailored ARC ‘Lobby’ experience
Think less government legislation, more fully-tailored itinerary. Designed to mimic the five-star hotel concierge experience, guests will be able to use the purpose-built ARC online ‘Lobby’ to organise and schedule every detail of their stay. Whether it’s requesting a basket of piping hot pastries for a morning’s breakfast or booking a professional yoga instructor to help downward dog the day away, this nifty online experience aims to take the hassle out of self-catered getaways. Launching summer 2022
2 Painswick Rococo Garden
A distinct style of art, architecture and the decorative arts originating from the 1700s, this pretty patch of manicured land is the UK’s only complete surviving rococo garden. Designed in the 1740s as a fanciful pleasure garden for the owner of Painswick House, the area was painstakingly restored in the 1900s. Nowadays, explorers from far and wide are invited to peruse its paths and enjoy the many quirky features that await within its walls – including a majestic Red House (where one can get hitched) and a shiver-inducing plunge pool.
Adult tickets from £9.60pp, rococogarden.org.uk
3 Cotswolds Way
Pull on your trainers and take on the Cotswold Way, a 102 mile long National Trail running between the market town of Chipping Campden and the city of Bath – with Painswick positioned perfectly halfway along. For those feeling extra adventurous, keen walkers (or runners) can follow the trail for around 12.6km to King’s Stanley, with scenic woodland, an Iron Age hill fort and bluebell woods to admire along the way. nationaltrail.co.uk
What to eat
Ditch the washing up rota and let someone else take care of the cooking via ARC’s virtual ‘lobby’ platform:
1 Tomari Gi: For fans of freshly-prepared Japanese cuisine, guests can order delicious meals courtesy of Stroud-based Tomari Gi or even have them cook up a storm in-house. The vegan poke bowl, composed of tofu, cherry tomato, sesame seaweed, edamame, avocado and plenty more, is truly scrumptious. tomari-gi.co.uk
2 Bella Mia Pizza: Put your feet up and let somebody else sort dinner. Local pizza experts Bella Mia Pizza whip up some dough-lightful creations, made using only the freshest ingredients then baked and delivered straight to ARC Painswick’s door. Start with a few slices of savoury, then throw calorie caution to the wind and indulge with a Biscoff & Salted Caramel Calzone for dessert. bellamiapizza.co.uk
3 David the Sommelier: With all that food, you and your guests are going to be thirsty. Hire expert sommelier David Almeida for an evening and let him recommend fabulous tipples whilst talking you through some top wine pairings for your feast. twitter.com/corkedout
Make it happen
How: Finest Retreats is the exclusive managing agent for the ARC collection. Finest Retreats is a full service holiday rental management company with a handpicked selection of properties across the UK. For more details about ARC Painswick and booking via Finest Retreats, please visit finestretreats.co.uk
Where: Tibbiwell Ln, Painswick, Stroud GL6 6XX
Wallet: Prices from £714 per night
Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor