There are many different choices of accommodation along The Cotswold Way to suit a range of budgets and needs. If you are intending to stay and bed and breakfasts or hotels then I would highly recommend that you book ahead. I was booking my accommodation in December for a trip in March and many places were already fully booked.
Let's take a look at the options available:-
If you are prepared to carry all of your gear, backpacking is a great option. You can walk with a high degree of freedom: setting off in the early hours, walking until you drop and generally pleasing yourself. There are limited campsites available along the Cotswold Way, so please ask permission from land-owners if you intend to stealth camp. I am sure that I don't need to remind you that wild camping is illegal in the UK, but if you do decide to sneakily camp up on the escarpment, then please ensure that you leave no trace. The good news is that you will not need to carry food for the full 8 days as there are plenty of towns and villages that will offer opportunities to resupply.
I was disappointed when I discovered that the only hostels along The Cotswold Way were in the City of Bath. There is another YHA hostel in Stow-on-the-Wold, which is not the trail. The central YHA Bath hostel is extremely busy, therefore booking well in advance is essential. An alternative hostel is Bath Backpackers Hostel, which is very inexpensive and has excellent reviews. You can visit their website at www.bathbb.co.uk.
Bed and Breakfast/Hotels
If you want to travel lightweight (aka without sleeping bags and tents) and enjoy a bit of luxury, can use B&B's guest houses and hotels. During my eight-day hike along The Cotswold Way, I stayed mainly at pubs or bed and breakfasts. Most of the bookings were made through Booking.com or Airbnb. The process was simple and easy and hosts were delightful.
Not every establishment wants to have one person staying for one night only, and many prefer to have couples staying for a weekend or a week-long period. However, when there are cancellations at busy periods, they'll take anyone!
Some accommodation hosts (AirB&B mainly) cope better with walkers than and may be prepared to offer pick-ups and drop-offs, packed lunches or arrange to move luggage onwards. Sometimes there may be a charge for this service, but in my experience, all AirB&B hosts were happy to drop you back at the trailhead, or even collect you if it is pouring with rain.
I stayed in a range of very charming places. From this wonderful Bakehouse (see photo), to a charming Old Rectory next to the Church in Dursely.
If money is not an issue then you may want to consider hotels on route. There are some absolutely amazing hotels full of history and grandeur, but they certainly come at a price.
If you would like more options and a complete list of accommodation along the trail, we suggest looking at the National Trail website www.nationaltrail.co.uk/cotswold-way/plan.
You may decide that carrying all of your worldly goods on your back like a snail is not for you. Luckily, there is a solution: luggage transfer! There are a few luggage transfer companies for The Cotswold Way. You may start out carrying your pack, but if you decide along the way that it is too heavy and you would like your rucksack collected in the morning so that all you are carrying is a small daypack, then give these companies a try. Prices are similar for each service and range from £5.50 per bag per day, to £10 per pack per day (at the time of publication). Please check with the providers for their latest prices.
Carryabag – Luggage transfer, accommodation booking
Tel: +44 (0) 1242 250642
Cotswold Luggage Transfers
Tel: +44 (0) 1386 840 688
Sherpa Van Project – Self-guided walking packages and luggage transfer
Tel: +44 (0) 1609 883731 OR +44 (0) 1748 826917
Facilities En Route
Food and Drink:
The next town or village is never that far away, but you cannot always time the walk to be in a village at lunchtime. With this in mind, I would recommend that you take a packed lunch with you. It is worth noting that many of the pubs do not open until 6 pm onwards. Many of the B&B’s will offer a lunch provision service, which is rather handy. I would always recommend carrying a large water bottle or a full hydration system with you every day. I personally love to carry a Robinson’s Squash’d, which is a highly concentrated soft drink sweetener made with real juice—simply add a squirt or two to give some zest to your water. I never hike without my little Squash’d.