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Wednesday 6 April 2011

Sluttery Travels: Ellenborough Park

Horses, booze, good food and soft furnishings - pretty much the fail-safe recipe if you want to make a hotel that pleases me. My young man and I nipped down to Cheltenham at the weekend to check out the luscious honeycomb fortress that is Ellenborough Park, a stately with a scandalous history (hoorah!) set in stunning Cotswold countryside next to Cheltenham Racecourse (hello ponies).

Yum, right? Thanks to interior designer Nina Campbell it's easily as gorgeous on the inside. Check out this mural on the main staircase for starters.

Gorgeous. Let's have a quick perve over some of the other features.

So this is the sitting room: beautiful lighting and jewel colours that brought to mind my beloved Sharpham Park when in its prime. There's also a little hidden away balcony on the next level up with extra sofas, and a further hidden away room. Copies of The Field and Horse and Hound were littered around along with piles of board games, a wonderful drinks table, and - glory of glories - a harp, which I, er, may have played later that evening after a couple of Blackberry Sidecars.

Our bedroom

Even though we were only there for a night, 10 minutes walking around our room made me feel like I'd been on holiday for a week. I loved the restful, pretty wallpaper, blinds and free wi-fi, while himself oohed over the wallmounted flatscreen TV, iPod dock and plethora of very chi-chi shoe shiners, umbrellas and torches squirrelled away in the wardrobe.

Our bathroom

I squealed with joy and mirth when I saw that loo - a bona fide thunderbox! As well as that lovely roll top bath, his and hers sinks, and loads of fluffy towels, there's a very powerful waterfall shower and plenty of Penhaligon's Raquets goodies.

Speaking of goodies, the spa at Ellenborough Park is absurdly wonderful. Designed by the architect rather than Campbell, it's lots of rich reds which prove relaxing rather than sexy. I had a great full-body massage with Hannah, who along with Vicky were the most welcoming and talented therapists. My boyfriend spent an hour blissed out in the sauna and hydrotherapy pool then we both staggered into the steam room for a five minute blast before having a wander round the grounds and admiring the stone work.

The Tudor Room, where we had dinner, needs more work. Scallop and noodles was fine for a starter, but my main course version was seriously rubbery, and an omelette had a very odd powdered taste to it. If we'd only eaten there we would have been very disappointed.

Happily, we'd paid to have lunch in the beautiful dining room, a palace of rich wood, stone and perfectly-judged furnishing. Snug sofas and lovely tables with lots of happy mothers being treated to Mother's Day lunch were a great surrounding for very good lamb and leeks (Welsh chef, terrific). The German sommelier recommended a 2004 Riesling that knocked our socks off. £24 for two courses or £30 for three was very good value for top quality food in a first-class environment.

Speaking of first-class, we loved the boot room, stocked with Hunter wellies, thick socks and leather boots you can borrow to go on walks - it smelled gorgeous.

Ellenborough Park is blessed with good looks, excellent staff and strong detailing that can only blossom as newness, and powdery omelettes, are rubbed off. The hotel is running introductory offers, including £150 for an overnight stay with breakfast in a traditional room, and £295 for Celebration and Relaxation breaks.

Kat was a guest of Ellenborough Park


  1. Oh it looks wonderful. And pic of you looking through the wall? ADORABLE.

    Also, the harp?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Yes, it turns out that playing the harp is very similar to playing the guitar when tipsy in that there are infinitely more strings than you're expecting, but it doesn't really matter what noise you make.

    My Amazing Grace was pretty good though I thought *smug*


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