The boutique hotels of Cheltenham and its surrounding villages hint at a distinguished past. Once home to nobility, the glorious manors, historic townhouses and ancient inns are now booked out by Cheltenham Racecourse punters and ramblers heading into the Cotswolds. While there are plenty of classy boutiques in Cheltenham to choose from, here are the pick of the bunch.
With a grand, Italianate exterior, Cowley Manor is the stand-out property in the sleepy village of Cowley. Its 55-acre (22ha) estate is home to a Victorian cascade leading to a lake, one of two to be discovered while staying here. Its rooms are surprisingly contemporary, but no less inviting for it. All come with huge soaking tubs and separate drench showers. For dinner, expect locally sourced, exquisitely prepared British dishes.
Occupying a historic townhouse, part of which dates from the 12th century, Jessop House sits in the medieval market town of Tewkesbury. A 20-minute car ride will take you to Cheltenham, but Tewkesbury’s Norman abbey, riverside walks and independent retailers are a worthy alternative. The boutique hotel’s suites include period pieces, fine linens and views over the abbey. You’ll also find a traditional English breakfast menu with ingredients sourced from local farms.
When it opened in 1838, the Queens Hotel – its name a nod to Queen Victoria – was one of the first purpose-built hotels in Europe. Now it overlooks one of Cheltenham’s most arresting streets and the Imperial Square and Gardens. Its regal moniker is matched by its Neoclassical architecture, dominated by 50 all-white Corinthian columns. Its rooms combine heritage pieces with contemporary stylings. There are also several dining options including a traditional afternoon tea room.
From the outside, with its grand facade and sweeping driveway, Malmaison fits in well with regency Cheltenham. Inside, it’s a different story. Contemporary stylings bring you into the modern age. Rooms are decorated with block colours, statement wallpapers and modern furnishings. At night, head to the in-house bar to mingle with fellow guests and townies. There’s also a brasserie serving an international menu.
Occupying a Georgian town house in Pittville, No 38 the Park is a 15-minute walk to Cheltenham Racecourse. If – and when – you’ve sunk your money in the ponies, returning to this boutique hotel is ample consolation. Its 13 rooms are decorated with mahogany leathers, antiques and carpets woven with seagrass. In the morning, a continental breakfast features freshly baked pastries, artisanal teas and freshly brewed coffee.
Shopaholics can take advantage of Hotel Du Vin’s ideal location in the trendy Montpellier district, where speciality shops reside. The boutique hotel – part of a chain across the UK – has 49 stylish rooms which come with either a deep roll-top bath or monsoon shower. Elegant afternoons can be spent in the Laroche wine tasting room or in the Bistro du Vin, which serves a mix of French and British classics.
Traditional Gloucestershire beauty is found in abundance at the Cotswold Grange. Its honey-hued facade and stone mullion windows are typical of the area’s large country manors. That continues inside where high ceilings, decorative cornicing and the original cantilevered staircase are found. Sitting in the historic suburb of Pittville, Cotswold Grange has easy access to both Cheltenham town centre and the racecourse. If you don’t want to leave, however, there’s an in-house bar and a restaurant serving modern British cuisine.
Hugging the edge of Cheltenham’s Montpellier district, Lypiatt House is well located for shopping during the day and dining at night. Set in private grounds, this boutique hotel was built in the Victorian period and finished with contemporary flourishes. Should you wish to explore the nearby Cotswolds, on-site parking is available. Fill up for the hike with a continental or full English breakfast.
Tucked inside a 16th-century inn, 7mi (11km) from Cheltenham, the Frogmill is a charmingly traditional countryside retreat. Its 28 rooms are uniquely designed but all come with Temple Spa toiletries, Feather & Black beds and premium fabrics. It also has an inviting rustic pub with wood-beam ceilings and private booths. In the summer, a sun-capturing terrace is the place to enjoy a pint as a working water wheel provides the soundtrack.