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Imagine picture-perfect villages, luxury hotels and delicious gourmet restaurants, there’s a reason every influencer in town floods the Cotswolds for a weekend.
At the foot of Cleeve Hill (the highest point in the Cotswolds) and overlooking Cheltenham Racecourse stands the splendid Ellenborough Park. Dating back to 1520, the storied mansion has seen many reincarnations, but 2022 marks its 10th anniversary as Ellenborough Park and, in our opinion, possibly its best year yet. The hotel is perfectly located for spending days in Cheltenham or afternoons exploring the famous villages and countryside of the Cotswolds, so what are you waiting for?
The hotel has 61 rooms to choose from. From cozy double rooms to luxury rooms and suites, each room has been lovingly restored and offers a unique design to relax and unwind in. We opted for a deluxe room overlooking the communal garden with Taittinger sun loungers and garden games for all. Our room was equipped with an extremely comfortable hypnos king size bed, a sitting area, a bathroom large enough to accommodate a disco, luxury bath products and a much needed Nespresso machine. Our room was located in one of the courtyard cottages and luckily for us there was only a skip to the pool, spa, bar and restaurant – need I say more! ?
For breakfast and dinner, try the 15th century restaurant and feast your senses on both the interior and the menu. Chandeliers, Tudor portraits, thick tapestry rugs and even a harp combine to create an indulgent ambiance.
For dinner, we sampled scallops and pork belly, along with the best Iberian croquettes we’ve had outside of Spain (or maybe ever). Duck breast, asparagus and blackberry followed, and we can confirm that the accompanying bon bon du canard alone is worth the order. The sirloin steak with garlic mushrooms and tomatoes was a win and glasses of whiskey and amaretto in the lounge ended a perfect evening.
Breakfast is again served in the formal dining room and offers both a la carte hot items and a serve-your-own continental buffet. The Virgin Mary stall and gluten-free bar were nice additions to the usual pastries and fresh fruit, and why not pick up a copy of Keats to ponder as you browse the preserves. For the hot stuff we went traditional with full English and a little off track (you can make your own) with scrambled eggs, avocado and sausage. For those wondering, we can confirm the sausage was top notch.
If you want to dine al fresco, have afternoon tea or a glass of bubbly, we suggest heading to Taittinger Terrace to watch the sunset over Cheltenham Racecourse and the countryside – heaven .
The spa is small and the communal jacuzzi with sauna and steam room can feel a bit cramped and unkempt so Ellenborough might not be the place to book for a big hen party or spa break with the girls, but it provides a pleasant addition to any weekend and is open to residents as part of the room rate.
To treat yourself, book a treatment and take advantage of Elemis products and the new BIOTEC facial treatments. The heated outdoor pool is a must on a sunny day.
The surrounding area
Pick up the Gloucestershire Bucket List booklet from reception and enjoy one of 100 things to do in the county. We headed for Bourton on the Water which must have been the busiest day of the year, whilst the village is stunning, we suggest avoiding a Jubilee weekend! For other times of the year, hit up one of the many independent shops and restaurants, ice cream parlors and fudge parlors and dip your feet in the scenic river that runs through the village.
Many villages are tiny and simply provide a photo stop opportunity or a starting point for country walks or a cheeky pub pit stop. Lower and Upper Slaughter will deservedly pop up regularly in your Insta feed or for something bigger with a little more about it, head to Burford or Chipping Norton.
For sports fans make sure your visit coincides with race day at Cheltenham, for culture vultures soak up the history and architecture at Gloucester Cathedral or for lovers of animals, follow our lead and head straight for the Cotswold Country Park to see rhinos, giraffes and a host of wonderful creatures you may have never seen before – naked mole rats were a real surprise.
Pristine experiences are currently offering a two night stay including breakfast and use of spa facilities for £549. To book your stay visit their website. and why not discover other activities to include in your stay, from spas and driving, to afternoon tea or theater tickets.