Hotel Thyme Courtyard Gardeners Cottage



Harriet Russell speaks to Caryn Hibbert about making
Thyme that special oasis in the heart of the Cotswolds.

Thyme - Bedroom Bergamot

In the picturesque village of Southrop in the Cotswolds, you’ll find Thyme. The brainchild of Caryn Hibbert and her children – including head chef Charlie Hibbert – it’s a calm oasis that offers some much-needed escape for busy professionals. Caryn’s passion for interiors and design also runs throughout the stunning property – and here, she spoke to Harriet Russell about what went into making the hotel so special.

Harriet Russell: What was your primary source of inspiration when designing Thyme?

Caryn Hibbert: The inspiration for Thyme comes from the countryside that surrounds it – the quintessentially English verdant green rolling hills and valleys, limestone rivers, meadows, hedgerows, and woodland. The flora and fauna that live here are so unique – and we really wanted the hotel to reflect as many of these natural elements as possible.

HR: Tell us more about how you incorporated the Cotswolds landscape into the design.

CH: We used local natural materials as much as possible – Cotswold stone, English oak, lime plaster and at all times, we respected the existing architecture of the buildings to keep them true to their original form without over-embellishment. Where possible, we’ve used furniture with real scale to add grandeur – both antique pieces and bespoke cabinetry where architectural cornicing detail and panelling has elevated the simply build rustic spaces. These more traditional pieces are also complemented by a simple, clean and modern aesthetic, which is reflected in things like the poured concrete floors to ensure the spaces look sophisticated, not twee.


A calm oasis that offers some much-needed escape for busy professionals.

Thyme - The Bothy

The Botanical Bothy - concept space and treatment.

HR: Did you stick to any particular colour palettes or themes?

CH: Green is our ‘neutral’ and I’ve found it to be incredibly versatile, complementing just about any other colour. We also used a dark grey with gold to highlight some of the panelling in the Baa Bar, that’s added a touch of glamour to what is essentially a very simple space. These plain colours work as a neutral foundation, allowing the spaces to change with the seasons and the time of day. Of course, we have many buildings at Thyme – it’s a village within a village – and we’ve decorated many of the rooms in the houses and cottages in what I’d call a modern take on English country style.

Green is our ‘neutral’ and I’ve found it to be incredibly versatile, complementing just about any other colour...These plain colours work as a neutral foundation, allowing the spaces to change with the seasons and the time of day.

HR: Did you face any specific challenges during the design process?

CH: The biggest challenge was to ensure the buildings were bought up to modern standards but in a seamless way. Insulation, along with economically viable and eco heating systems, means that everywhere is warm and inviting. This was particularly successful in the Tithe Barn, a vast space that’s heated with a ground source heat pump that makes it feel cosy in the winter despite its size. A second challenge was to ensure that the main spaces looked effortless and uninterrupted but had everything they needed to be practical. Operations needed to remain invisible as possible.

HR: What role did sustainability play in your design choices?

CH:They were absolutely at the fore. In the Ox Barn, the beautiful herringbone cladding and massive beams were all left untouched, so extra insulation was put above the boards by taking off the entire roof. It was a huge task but essential to ensure we could heat the space as efficiently as possible.

Showerings Thyme Food

"...everything we do illustrates our love of the land is really unique to us." - Caryn Hibbert

Thyme - the Ox Barn

The Ox Barn - Thyme's contemporary restaurant which has stayed true to its agricultural roots.

HR: Can you share any other interesting stories or anecdotes about the design process?

CH: The key thing for me has been to listen and learn, and also to trust my own judgement – to have confidence in my own vision. The Ox Barn was a true collaboration between a young interiors restaurant architect and myself. Her expertise in how a space should function, the flow of the people – both the back of house staff and guests – is always the starting point. Once that is right, the aesthetic can come later. I’ve loved decorating our new rooms in my own fabrics and wallpapers, too. My designs are based on the gardens and land here at Thyme and really do make the interiors here unique.

HR: The Ox Barn is a fan favourite – tell us more about the concept and inspiration behind it…

CH: We wanted to make it feel like one vast space, with uninterrupted views of the roof and beams but with separate areas where you would feel warm and cosy. The design of the curved bar was the starting point here, as it divided the barn into two without having to use any barriers. Large pieces of furniture also help to create the spaces and both the fire place and the huge cook line are wonderful features that add warmth and vibrancy into the room.

HR: What are some of the standout features at Thyme feel most proud of?

CH: The botanical theme that runs throughout everything we do and illustrates our love of the land is really unique to us. First, the illustrations on the back of the menus work throughout the seasons with our food and bar menus. Those patterns now form the basis of Bertioli, our lifestyle brand that defines Thyme. We have used my botanical watercolour paintings to create patterns for the products in the line – from the table linens to the interior fabrics and furnishings.

HR: Where did the idea for the Bertioli range come from?

CH: Bertioli is our way of living – it’s everything we love and the colouring in of Thyme. Based on our passion for botanicals, it tells stories of nature and the seasons through pattern and scent. Starting with our table linens, we now have a founding interiors collection of wallpapers and fabrics and our Bertioli water meadow beauty bathing and breathing range. We have some exciting things planned for next year, too, so watch this space…

HR: Can you share some of the main suppliers you used to decorate and furnish Thyme?

CH: Most of the Ox Barn furniture was bespoke, made by Benchmark and the lighting was done by Lighthouse Design. Many of the antique pieces came from Lorfords and Brownrigg – both of which are amazing places to source inspiring individual items. I also have to shout out my friends Gilly and Hugh from Pennireve Designs, who sourced many of the decorative pieces. Our glassware is by John Jenkins and the plates we use are from John Julian.

HR: Finally, how do you ensure that the design of Thyme evolves and stays fresh while maintaining its timeless appeal?

CH: To ensure I love everything we do. As most things are based on my botanical watercolour paintings, there is a clear DNA that runs through the entire collection. I work with my daughter, too, who also ensures we maintain our passion for working with great people who also have inspiring stories and that we remain true to our desire to design things that are good for both people and planet.