Picture perfect villages, luxury hotels and yummy gastro eateries, there’s a reason every influencer in town is flooding to the Cotswolds for a weekend break.
At the foot of Cleeve Hill (the Cotswolds highest point) and overlooking Cheltenham Racecourse sits the splendid Ellenborough Park. Dating back to 1520 the manor house steeped in history has seen numerous reincarnations but 2022 marks its 10th anniversary as Ellenborough Park and in our opinion possibly its finest year yet. The hotel is situated perfectly for days out in Cheltenham or afternoons exploring the local famous Cotswolds villages and countryside so what are you waiting for?
The hotel has 61 rooms to pick from. From cosy doubles 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 luxury room with views over the communal garden complete with Taittinger deck chairs and garden games for all. Our room came with a supremely comfy king size hypnos bed, lounge space, a bathroom big enough to host a disco, luxury bath products and much needed Nespresso machine. Our room was situated in one of the courtyard cottages and luckily for us was a mere hop skip and jump to the pool, spa, bar and restaurant - need I say more!?
For breakfast and evening meals try the 15th century restaurant and feast your senses on both the interiors and the menu. Chandeliers, Tudor portraits, thick tapestry rugs and even a harp combine for an indulgent ambience.
For dinner we sampled scallops and pork belly, and the best Iberico croquettes we’ve had outside of Spain (or maybe ever). Duck breast, asparagus and blackberry followed, and we can confirm the accompanying duck bon bon is worth the order alone. Sirloin steak with garlicky mushrooms and tomatoes was a win and whisky and amaretto nightcaps in the lounge finished off a perfect evening.
Breakfast is again served in the formal dining room and offers both a la carte hot dishes alongside a help yourself continental buffet. The Virgin Mary stand and gluten free bar were nice additions to the usual fresh pastries and fruits, and why not pick up a copy of Keats to mull over whilst you peruse the conserves. For the hot stuff we went traditional with a full english and a little off piste (you can create your own) with scrambled eggs, avocado and sausage. For those wondering, we can confirm the sausage was top notch.
If you want alfresco dining, afternoon tea or a glass of fizz may we suggest you head to the Taittinger Terrace to watch the sunset over the Cheltenham racecourse and countryside - heaven.
The spa is small and the communal jacuzzi with sauna and steam could feel slightly cramped and overlooked so Ellenborough might not be the venue to book for a big hen do or spa break with the girls but it does offer a pleasant addition to any weekend away and is open for residents to use as part of the room rate.
For a spot of indulgence book a treatment and enjoy Elemis products and new BIOTEC facials. The heated outside pool is a must on a sunny day.
The surrounding area
Pick up the Gloucestershire Bucket List booklet from reception and enjoy one of the 100 things to do in the county. We headed to Bourton on the Water on what must have been the busiest day of the year, whilst the village is stunning may we suggest avoiding a Jubilee weekend! For other times of the year check out one of the many independent shops and restaurants, ice cream and fudge parlours and dip your feet in the quaint river running through the village.
Many of the villages are tiny and offer simply a photo stop opportunity or a jumping off point for countryside walks or cheeky pub pitstop. Lower and Upper Slaughter will rightfully appear regularly in your Insta feed or for something bigger with a bit more about it head to Burford or Chipping Norton.
For sporting fans ensure your visit coincides with race day at Cheltenham, for culture vultures soak up the history and architecture at Gloucester’s Cathedral or for animal lovers follow our lead and head straight to the Cotswold Country Park to spot rhinos, giraffes and a whole host of wonderful creatures you may never have seen before - naked mole rats were a real surprise.
Virgin Experiences are currently offering a two night stay including breakfast and use of the spa facilities for £549. To book your stay visit their site. and why not check out some other activities to include in your break from spas to racing driving, afternoon tea or theatre tickets.
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Sarah Hayman is a contributing food and travel writer at Marie Claire UK, covering everything from UK breaks to far flung destinations, the best greasy spoon to Michelin star dining.
Growing up on the Kent coast Sarah spent virtually every day of her summer holidays frolicking on the beach so it’s no wonder that a life living and working in London leaves her yearning for sand between her toes and cool wines on summer eves.
To ensure she’s ordering the right thing in a restaurant and knowing her lefts from her rights, Sarah has since dabbled in languages being conversational in Spanish and currently studying Arabic at SOAS.
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