Easy escapes: Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham
Surrounded by 90 acres of countryside, this five star hotel is the perfect Cotswolds retreat
This is a hotel steeped in history. Situated at the foot of the magnificent Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds -which has magnificent views of the county -the original building is over 500 years old and retains many of its features including Tudor doors, Cotswold stone walls and a breath-taking central hall with roaring fire (where they serve a cracking afternoon tea). Surrounded by 90 acres of countryside that leads down to the world-famous Cheltenham race course, you can see why so many of its clientele come back year after year. Ellenborough Park offers the opulence and setting you’d expect from a five star with flawless service thrown in. Yet the staff are down to earth and the overall vibe is relaxed and welcoming. Did we mention the outdoor heated swimming pool and the spa?
Think uber luxurious country house interiors in the central hall – huge marble fireplaces, wood panelling and sweeping staircases with velvet curtains and embroidered cushions. Some of the 61 rooms have four-poster beds and roll top baths in keeping with the period feel, but accessories are modern and stylish. Expect sumptuous king-size beds with puffy pillows, hypno mattresses and espresso machines as standard.
Take dinner in the informal brassiere style Horse Box – a gourmet pub- style restaurant, where we recommend the slow cooked shoulder of lamb or the traditional fish and chips (although the fresh fish of the day options were pretty good too) all served with fresh seasonal vegetables. Alternatively, sample the 3 course set menu in the more formal main restaurant. This takes place in the oak panelled dining room of the main house (where their great breakfast feasts are also served). Amazing value at £55, we were blown away by the quality of the fare here. It’s no surprise that it has the reputation as the best place to eat in Cheltenham. We opted to have each of our courses paired with a wine chosen by their exceptional sommelier. Flawless! Stand out offerings included the roast Hake with lemon Veloute and homemade courgette linguine, plus the fillet steak with truffle-creamed potato.
A dip in the outside heated pool followed by a hot steam in the spa when you arrive – to relax you into your stay. Also make sure you sample one of their award-winning afternoon teas in one of the cosy ‘snugs’ of the grand entrance hall as you take in the history. Walk it all off by climbing Cleeve Hill – just a few minutes away – which offers incredible views.
Double rooms at Ellenborough Park start at £159 per night
Author: Marie Claire