Top class boutique hotel outside Cheltenham
Sometimes a weekend away is a necessary balm to soothe the urban mind, yet jumping on a flight can be a step too far. Luckily for Londoners, there are a packet of hotels outside of the capital offering all of the luxurious trappings that you‘d find further afield. Cowley Manor is just under two hours away, near Cheltenham, but feels like it could be in another universe entirely. The 19th century Italianate manor house is part of the Curious Hotels collection and was in the vanguard of contemporary boutique hotels to open in Britain. Lewis Carroll was rumoured to have drawn inspiration in Alice in Wonderland from the grounds of Cowley Manor. We certainly felt as if we‘d gone through the looking glass spending a weekend on this beautiful property.
Cowley Manor comprises of thirty unique bedrooms and a world class spa set within 55 acres of parkland, woods and meadows. The gardens are replete with sculptures and artworks perched above ponds and situated throughout the greens. C-Side, the spa, is the jewel in the crown, sculpted with Cotswold stone to resemble a gleaming oasis. The design has been orchestrated to bring as much of the scenery into the spa, with floor to ceiling glass walls inviting in inspiring views. There‘s a lovely indoor pool with an entrance to the steam rooms and sauna that resembles a moat. During our winter visit, steam rose from the spacious sun terrace and outdoor heated pools into the treetops A skilled cadre of therapists offer a range of excellent holistic treatments including therapeutic massages, advanced facials and speciality pregnancy treatments.
Any food and beverage requests will be more than taken care of at Malt, Cowley Manor‘s premier dining room. Named as an homage to Cowley Manor‘s former owner Sir James Horlick, the restaurant offers a stunning selection of Modern British classics. We were smitten with almost every dish, but particularly a lovely ham hock terrine and butter-soft chateaubriand served with crisp onion rings. The room itself is simply stunning, comprising primarily of dark oak panels that have been meticulously moulded - it‘s overwhelmingly beautiful. A standalone bar offers a similar ambience for those who are keener on liquid sustenance, and there‘s a beautiful billiards room with leather padded walls, a purple pool table, and gorgeous views across the lake.
There are six different tiers of rooms: Good, Better, Great, Exceptional, Outstanding or Best - and, compared to hotels in London they are all quite reasonably priced. Guests can either stay in the main house or the stables which are just a stone‘s throw away and unbelievably lovely. There are some quirky 2- and 3-level mezzanine options with wide wooden decked terraces which would be a joy when the sun is shining. All rooms include complimentary continental breakfast, wifi, spa access, Bose, Green & Spring bath products and a mini bar.
We really can‘t say enough good things about Cowley Manor. If you want a weekend away, it‘s a prime destination.