I’ve not long returned from a lovely stay in the stunning Cotswolds. It’s hard to believe that it was my first visit to this red-hot rural hotspot but as I’m from Scotland I usually take my staycations north of the border. The Cotswold’s didn’t disappoint though. The area has, of course, long been a favourite of celebrities; Kate Winslet, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liz Hurley, Huge Grant, and Damien Hurst are just a few of the big names that own multi-million pound mansions in the area, but a little an extra bit of cool Britannia was added earlier this year when Kate Moss and Lily Allen tied their respective knots amidst the picture-perfect English countryside. So, I packed my designer Wellies and donned a deerstalker, for a visit to the area’s latest new-kid-on-the-Cotswold-stone-block, the five star, celeb-filled Ellenborough Park Hotel and Spa.
This charming Cheltenham manor house has galloped ahead of the local competition picking up a mantelpiece full of ribbons and trophies since its opening earlier this year. There’s plenty on offer for luxe-loving, pleasure-seeking guests; within the walls of the impressive Grade II-listed Elizabethan building, grand fireplaces and oak-panelled walls have been well-dressed with rich wood furnishings and stylish scarlet and royal blue sofas and chairs.
Interior design guru, Nina Campbell – who was behind the decoration of Princess Catherine’s pre-wedding suite at The Goring Hotel – took charge of the Ellenborough’s smart interiors and has perfectly combined olde-worlde elegance with modern country chic to create a truly stunning space. I absolutely adored this glittery gorgeous peacock wall lamp that illuminates the balcony area of the Great Hall – so covetable!
The hotel’s foodie credentials are fantastic too and are said to attract many a local celebrity round for lunch, dinner or drinks. Whether it was breakfast in bed – seriously delicious in so many ways – afternoon tea or something a bit more formal, you won’t be disappointed. Celebrated chef, David Kelman, oversees the country house cuisine at the Ellenborough Park and has done an excellent job of showcasing the wealth of local products the Cotswolds has to offer. In the Beaufort Dining Room, there’s a self-assured selection of classic gastronomic delights – think buttery Lobster Thermidor and perfectly prepared Chateaubriand. Or for something equally as delicious but not quite so formal try the comfortable surroundings of The Tudor Club Brasserie – the Pear and Apple Pie, made with fruit freshly-picked from the trees outside, was to die for.
The Ellenborough Park has a host of celebrity-style suites hidden away in the hotel’s many ancient towers and turrets. All overlook the pretty grounds and some have views of the adjacent Cheltenham Racecourse. The dramatic Istabraq Suite nestled in the eaves of the Great Hall, with its timbered ceiling, huge bed and beautiful open-plan bathroom is about as romantic as a hotel room can get. The Arkle Suite has its own private dining area, oak-clad walls and spa bathroom make it the perfect space to live out your amorous Elizabethan fantasies. I stayed in one of the luxury rooms (19). It was spacious and beautifully decked-out in a pretty palette of pale blues, greens and creams, with ivy-clad windows and a large bathroom with double sinks, a Victorian claw tub and a nice selection of Penhaligon’s amenities. Standard rooms were rather disappointing though; very small and lacking in the rich character that the rest of the hotel exudes, so my advice would be that if you are going to splash the cash spend a few pennies more and upgrade.
The Ellenborough Park’s splendid Oriental-themed spa is the perfect spot for an afternoon of posh pampering. The lush little space feels extremely private, featuring a sauna, star-lit steam room, sensation showers and hydrotherapy pool, along with seven treatment rooms and a special VIP area for couples in a Rapunzel-like tower. Treatments are luxe – the Spa Creation Facial is certain to go down well with spa aficionados, and pre and post-treatment guests can lounge about looking gorgeous in the serene magazine-filled relaxation room or chill and re-charge in the jewel-box-like Juice Bar.
Go country with a pair of Dubarry Galway Boots. Seen here in Walnut £299
And should you forget to pack suitable walking footwear check out the Ellenborough Park’s fabulous Boot Room where a selection of Dubarry boots and Hunter’s Wellingtons are available for guests to borrow.
The Ellenborough Park: Tel 01242 545454; http://www.ellenboroughpark.com/ Doubles from £240