‘This place is bigger than our front room. And our kitchen. And our upstairs. Put together.’
Those were the first words to come out of my mouth as I walked into our suite at Ellenborough Park hotel in Cheltenham. Apart from an unintelligible combination of ‘woooooah’ and ‘ohmywordwouldyoulookatthisplace’, of course.
And it was no understatement, because this wasn’t just any hotel room. Our home for the night was the Kauto Star Suite, a 53-square-metre, open-plan room on the first floor of Ellenborough Park’s Main House, with sweeping views of the hotel’s leafy grounds and Cheltenham Racecourse from three of its four sides.
Rooms at Ellenborough Park
In the bedroom, not even the addition of a big squashy bed, a rather serious-looking desk, a giant wardrobe, a three-piece suite, an en-suite toilet and several window seats could put a dent in the sheer amount of square-footage available (I can neither confirm nor deny that I did a cartwheel to test this theory).
And then there’s the bathroom. This huge, elegant space accounts for more than 20 of those square metres, and ticks off a roll-top bath, a giant walk-in shower, a second toilet and just a whole lot of space in-between for general swanning around. I don’t think many things in life beat sinking into a big, hot bath, and I fell in love with the hotel’s 100 Acres Rose & Lavender bubble bath so much that I bought a bottle to take home (alas, my own bathroom doesn’t quite compare, even with the posh bubbles).
Elsewhere in the hotel there are a further 60 rooms spread across the Main House, The Mews, Ellenborough Gate and Woodland Court. The four suites are named after famous racehorses, and only the Istabraq Suite trumps the Kauto Star when it comes to space, with a whopping 56 square metres beneath its exposed Tudor beams.
Dining options at Ellenborough Park
For dinner that evening, we went down to The Brasserie – the hotel’s informal restaurant and bar. We settled on perfectly-cooked steaks (well-done for me; barely dead for him), washed it down with a bottle of Merlot and rounded it off with a platter of British cheeses. There’s also a fine dining restaurant, the Beaufort, which was closed for dinner as it was a Sunday night. We were glad of the relaxed atmosphere in the Brasserie, though – it felt like an upmarket but ultra-friendly pub.
The next morning, we were greeted with a full English breakfast in the main restaurant – a stately room with all the trappings of a classic country house. There was a full buffet spread as well as a waiter-service cooked breakfast, and I honestly couldn’t fault any of it.
One thing I did spot is that Ellenborough Park also offers a traditional Cotswolds afternoon tea served up in the 500-year-old Great Hall. I can’t think of a more quintessentially English setting in which to nibble on crustless sandwiches, scoff jam-laden scones and sip a freshly-boiled brew from a bone china teacup.
I also spied some brochures for Christmas at Ellenborough Park, and it’s fair to say the addition of snowflakes and toasty open fires would make this a pretty magical mid-winter break (you can even have the whole place to yourself for day, for a mere 12k).
Spa, Wellness and everything else
After breakfast, the husband set off to find the hotel’s heated outdoor pool and I waddled off in the direction of the hotel spa, which is in a different area to the pool. The spa itself is small – there’s a jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room – but there are seven treatment rooms, and the list of available treatments is huge. I settled in for my first ever full-body aromatherapy massage, and left feeling suitably blissed-out.
Later that morning, we went for a quick walk around the grounds before we had to check out and head home. The property sits at the foot of Cleeve Hill with widescreen views of the Cotswolds countryside, and The Cotswolds Way walking trail crosses the estate. Plus, there’s a path that leads from the front of the hotel all the way down to Cheltenham Racecourse.
A day or two after we got home, the hotel announced the launch of its very own signature gin. And if that’s not a good enough reason for us to go back there, the Kauto Star’s incredible bathroom certainly is.
Ellenborough Park is a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels collection, which never showcases more than 50 hotels, to guarantee quality and exclusivity. The historic five-star Cotswold manor house has 61 bedrooms, two restaurants and a spa offering a range of treatments including the 55-minute Aromatherapy Massage (£80). A one-night stay costs from £209 per room (two sharing) including full English breakfast. Contact Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929, or by visiting www.prideofbritainhotels.com.
Huge thanks to Ellenborough Park for hosting us in return for an honest review.