I recently spent a restful long weekend in the Cotswolds at the Ellenborough Park Hotel and Spa in Cheltenham. Once you enter their gates onto what was formerly the Cheltenham Racecourse grounds (90 acres protected by the National Trust), you are met by the impressive facade of this magnificent English country estate.
The hotel encourages you to borrow a pair of boots from their boot room (Hunter wellies or Dubarry hiking boots, your choice!) and head on out to explore the countryside.
A look at the reception hall and surrounding rooms:
Guests can enjoy afternoon tea in the Great Hall, which is an impressive room with soaring ceilings, stone and wood work, stained glass windows, huge chandeliers and a roaring fireplace:
The spa on the property has seven treatment rooms (make sure to book in advance), a sauna, jacuzzi and a juice bar. I indulged in an absolutely wonderful hour-long deep tissue massage, after which point, I stayed in my bathrobe in their relaxation room, drinking cucumber water and reading magazines. It was an absolutely blissful way to spend an afternoon and I highly recommend taking advantage of the spa during your stay.
The sun came out for a brief minute and the colors of the grass and foliage were just stunning:
The hotel has 62 rooms, including four suites (named after famous racehorses), all done up by well known interior designer Nina Campbell. We stayed in one of their luxury rooms, located to the left of the main building, which was decorated in a traditional English style, complete with four-poster bed and a massive marble bathroom filled with Noble Isle bath products and fluffy white bathrobes.
|Entrance to the Spa|
On Saturday night we dined in the hotel's Beaufort Dining Room (the fancier of the two restaurants at Ellenborough Park). The evening began by the fireplace in the Great Hall with its stained glass windows and wood paneled walls, where we had some pink prosecco and a few amuse bouche (their wine list is very impressive). The waiter took our dinner order while we enjoyed our aperitivo, after which point we were ushered into the main dining room.
The fine china was commissioned especially for the hotel and the pattern is meant to reflect the original features of the house:
Here's a look at what we ate:
|Amuse bouche of artichoke mousse|
|Oak Smoked Breast of Grouse and Slow Roasted Leg with Crisp Chestnuts |
and Pickled Winter Vegetables with Parsley Root Puree
|One Hour - 62 Degree Cooked Spiced Fillet of Pork with Apple, Sage and Vegetable Fritter, |
Crackling with a Sage and Onion Crumb, and Chive Potato Puree with Quince Jus
|Ballontine of Partridge Breast with Slow Roasted Partridge Pie, Wild Mushrooms, |
Glazed Parsnips and Artichokes with Roast Partridge Jus
|Valrhona Biskelia Chocolate Delice, Pistachio Sponge, |
Hazelnut Ice Cream and Winter Chocolate Leaves
And for the piece de resistance: a spiced apple hazelnut and clotted cream baked Alaska with warm mandarine Napoleon brandy syrup flambeed for you right at your table.
While we thoroughly enjoyed the food and the service was very attentive, I should mention that the dining room was completely booked that evening, which resulted in a very long wait time for our main courses. I am assured that this does not usually happen, so I would highly recommend dining here if you are staying at the property, as the food is delicious.
Our long weekend at Ellenborough Park was just what we had hoped for: relaxing and indulgent. You can simply arrive and never leave the property, what with two restaurants, a bar, an afternoon tea room, the spa, pool, and beautiful grounds. You can also just as easily use it as a jumping off point to explore the nearby villages and quaint English pubs in the Cotswolds (here are two of my favorites).