Friday, 05 February 2016

Enjoy a touch of class in Cheltenham

This Regency spa town in Gloucestershire offers beautiful architecture, great hotels and classic events

Written by Wendy Gomersall
As the venue for one of the country’s bestloved events in the racing calendar, as well as a favourite literary festival, elegant Cheltenham in Gloucestershire attracts many thousands of visitors every year. Originally designed as a health resort for the wealthy, the Regency spa town has beautiful architecture and a thriving arts scene, not to mention great shops – a new John Lewis is in the pipeline for next year – and restaurants.

travel-590-2Pittville Pump Room

There are also some wonderful hotels, in particular the newly refurbished Queens Hotel, overlooking the Imperial Gardens and close to the specialist shops of the Montpellier area. This 84-room MGallery boutique hotel, part of the Sofitel group, has undergone quite a transformation. The rooms are gorgeous, with big comfy beds and plenty of amenities such as flatscreen TVs, tea and coffee making facilities and free Wi-Fi.

Public areas in the Grade II-listed Georgian manor – which was built in 1838 on the site of Sherborne Spa on the Promenade and named, of course, after Queen Victoria – have an opulent feel, with beautiful wallpaper designed by Pugin. The bar is particularly cosy, with an impressive gin menu of more than 30 varieties.

travel-590-3Cheltenham Literature Festival

The restaurant serves dishes made with delicious local produce. There’s an outdoor terrace for warmer days, too. A divine Tiffin Afternoon Tea, with finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries and your choice of tea, is available too.

And, as a special treat, the hotel can arrange for you to take a tour of the scenic surrounding Cotswolds by two-seater Morgan car.

You could easily come here by train though, as Queens Hotel is not far from the station. It’s also just a few minutes by foot from the Everyman Theatre, where the programme includes Madam Butterfly from the Russian State Ballet and Opera House (12 and 13 February), and The Wilson: Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, where the Audrey Hepburn: Portraits Of An Icon exhibition has been extended until 14 February.

travel-590-4Queens Hotel

Cheltenham Town Hall and Pittville Pump Room also offer a great programme of upcoming events, including classical concerts, tea dances and singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan on 25 February.

Cheltenham’s horse-racing extravaganza – www. cheltenhamfestival.net – takes place from 15 to 18 March, with around 500 horses competing in over 27 races for more than £4m prize money.

This year’s The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival runs from 7 to 16 October 2016. For details: 0844-880 8094, www.cheltenhamfestivals.com 

Rooms at Queens Hotel, Cheltenham, cost from £103 per night for B&B: 01242-307800, www.mgallery.com 

Tourist information: 01242-237431, www.visitcheltenham.com

Contact Wendy at wendy.gomersall@lady.co.uk
Prices correct at time of going to press.



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