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Home | Guidebooks | Cheltenham

Cheltenham Guidebook

Cheltenham Guidebook

Cheltenham is a town in Gloucestershire, England, home to the renowned Cheltenham Festival, 4 days of horse jump racing culminating in the Gold Cup, held annually in March at Cheltenham Racecourse. It’s also known for Regency buildings, including the Pittville Pump Room, a remnant of Cheltenham’s past as a spa town. There’s fine art at The Wilson museum, and the Victorian Everyman Theatre has an ornate auditorium.

The Ivy, Cheltenham

The Ivy Montpellier Brasserie in Cheltenham is an all-day dining British restaurant with an all-encompassing menu serving modern British and international classics, seven days a week. Located in the stunning grade I listed Montpellier Rotunda building, the restaurant serves breakfast, elevenses, lunch, weekend brunch, afternoon tea and dinner and features a private dining room and a bar, offering relaxed yet sophisticated dining in the popular town in Gloucestershire

The Green Dragon, Nr Cowley

Dating from the 17th century, the Inn has proven to be a popular retreat for those appreciating good food, fine wine and real ales.

The Black Horse, Cranham

Cosy 1600s village pub with log fires, serving real ale and hearty fare including pies and Sunday lunch.

No. 131, Cheltenham

Classic on the outside, contemporary British on the inside located in the heart of Cheltenham. Traditional classics and modern European dishes showcase the best seasonal ingredients in the restaurant. All ingredients are sourced and gathered locally wherever possible but always from British lands and shores.

The Butchers Arms, Sheepscombe

Our 16th century Public House is situated on Lime Street in the parish of Eldersfield near Gloucester. The Butchers Arms is first and foremost a rural pub, where the bar is the hub of life, with low ceilings, wooden floors, roaring fires and real ale served straight from the cask. We serve high quality seasonal British food using only the best suppliers. Our menu constantly changes in accordance to the seasons.

Gin & Juice at No. 131

No.131 is a late night destination for good times. After supper head down to Gin & Juice and delve into their delectable gin and cocktail list until late into the night.

Door 4

Creative food and drink in a stylish and cotemporary environment in the heart of Cheltenham’s upmarket Montpellier.

Montpellier Wine Bar

Montpellier Wine Bar & Restaurant is the most iconic and popular wine bar in Cheltenham and has been in its prime, sun-trap location since 1977. With a warm friendly atmosphere, a large selection of international wines coupled with delicious food, it’s the perfect place to unwind after work or enjoy a meal with family and friends.

John Gordon’s

A specialist in independent wines and spirits, John Gordan’s is a fantastic wine bar in Montpellier with over 200 whiskies and 150 gins to choose from!

Sudeley Castle & Gardens

Rated amongst the top attractions in the Cotswolds, the castle rooms and exhibits contain many fascinating treasures, from ancient Roman times to the present day. The castle is surrounded by a breath-taking 1,200-acre estate and ten award-winning gardens. The centrepiece is the Queens Garden, so named because four of England’s queens – Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I – once walked upon the original Tudor Parterre. The Pheasantry at Sudeley houses a collection of 17 species of rare and endangered pheasants from around the world as part of Sudeley’s programme of breeding and conservation.

Sudeley Castle & Gardens is also the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within its grounds – Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. Today visitors can explore the beautiful 15th century church where she lies entombed. The whole family can explore the castle’s fascinating past and enjoy a host of exciting events throughout the year. Children will love scaling the wooden fort and whizzing on the zip wire in the famed Adventure Playground, as well as tackling the brand new 10-piece assault course.

Montpellier Gardens

Montpellier Gardens lie close to the town centre and are an important part of Cheltenham’s regency landscape. Many of the buildings surrounding the gardens are listed grade one. The site has been owned by the borough council since 1893 and is part of the Cheltenham Central Conservation Area which, at over 600 hectares, is one of the largest in the country. The gardens can be broadly split into two recreational zones. You’ll find most of the park facilities in the southern section, including toilets, cafe, tennis courts and a toddlers’ play area. The larger informal northern section is used for promenading, sitting, and informal children’s play.

Painswick Rococo Gardens

Painswick Rococo Garden is a beautiful place to escape, explore and imagine. It was designed in the 1740s as an English country gentleman’s pleasure garden, a place for holding intimate garden parties. Laid out in a hidden valley around Painswick House, the Garden is now the country’s only complete surviving rococo garden. Since 1984, the Garden has been rescued from ruin and transformed into a stunning place to escape the busy world. Ripe for riotous pleasure and romance, this is still a fanciful place, and is dotted with perfect spots for socialising or snuggling.

Batsford Arboretum

The 56-acre arboretum at Batsford is situated just a mile west of the historic market town of Moreton-in-Marsh in the heart of the Cotswolds. A former home to the famous Mitford family, interest in the arboretum begins in late winter when the snowdrops, aconites and early flowering daffodils spring into life, followed by magnolias, hellebores, fritillaries and the beautiful Japanese ornamental cherries – stars of the show from late March until mid-April. The handkerchief tree is another show-stopper in May, as are the beautiful wildflower meadows which bloom in high summer.

Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Trust

From birdwatchers to families there is plenty to discover all year round. Enjoy amazing wildlife up-close. With experiences to suit all ages offering access to a huge variety of wildlife, it is no surprise that this fabulous centre is an award-winning day out!

Cattle Country

The Cattle Country Adventure Park has been operating since the early 1990s and has grown from a field with a few trampolines to one of the best visitor attractions in the area, including animals, a huge indoor soft play barn and many outdoor attractions.

During certain times of the year there are also falconry displays, maize maze, punch & judy show, magic shows, character days, animal feeding and handling sessions and tractor rides.

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park

Sitting in the heart of the Cotswolds, Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park has a longstanding reputation for a fun-filled day out. Visitors of all ages can interact closely with the animals and learn about farming, past and present. As the home of rare breed conservation, visitors can meet over 50 flocks and herds of farm animals, including Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs and Highland cattle. The Touch Barn and Demonstration Barn can be enjoyed all year round, as they are undercover and protected from the elements. With an adventure playground, Farm Safari, Maze, Tractor School, Sand Pits and Jumping Pillows, there’s lots of entertainment for children of all ages. The on-site restaurant, serving seasonal food and Adam’s own beer is a hit with the adults!

Prinknash Abbey and Gardens

Once the hunting lodge of King Henry VIII, Prinknash Bird and Deer Park’s Old Abbey is set in a charming wooded valley the other side of a monastic estate from the more impressive New Abbey. The park has been landscaped with modern techniques to recreate an 18th century park including traditional style follies, which include a vintage gypsy caravan and a traditional Wendy House structure.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

The Cotswold Wildlife Park is a truly fantastic day out for both little and big kids! As one of the UK’s largest zoological collections, the park is home to over 260 different species of animals set in 160 acres of beautiful landscaped parkland and gardens. With daily talks on the penguins and lemur feeding, a hands-on animal farmyard, narrow-gauge railway and adventure playground, there’s plenty to see and do to keep the whole family entertained!

Cotswold Falconry Centre

The perfect place for inquisitive minds and nature lovers alike, Cotswold Falconry Centre gives you a fantastic insight into the world of birds of prey. Located near Moreton in Marsh, you’ll have the chance to see daily flying displays and over 130 different birds of 60 different species, including those on the Critically Endangered list.

Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham racecourse, the jewel in Jump racing’s crown, plays host to the best horse jumping action in the world from 350 spectacular acres in the lee of the beautiful Cotswold hills. Whether you’re here on a crisp bright October day or a balmy evening in May, you’ll feel that unmistakable Cheltenham magic. There are 16 days of top-class Jump racing in the Cheltenham race calendar, with hundreds of thousands of racing fans visiting every year. Spectators can enjoy a wide variety of race experiences from the relaxed meetings in October and April to the exciting November Meeting and family fun on New Year’s Day. But the real focus of the Jump season, is of course, The Festival™ presented by Magners, taking place over four days in March with the backdrop of the magnificent Cotswolds. Read more about the area in our Cheltenham Guidebook.

The Everyman Theatre

Victorian theatre in the heart of Cheltenham presenting a wide range of shows from comedy, drama, musicals & opera. They also produce a family pantomime.

Cheltenham Festivals

Cheltenham Festivals is a charity running outreach programmes throughout the year, culminating with the town’s internationally acclaimed Jazz (May), Science (June), Music (July), and Literature (October) Festivals over a total of 36 days. The four festivals feature nearly 1,000 events, with 25% of their programme free to enter. Bringing in world-famous acts, performers, experts and authors year on year, the town well and truly comes to life during the Festivals. Head to the website to see if your stay coincides with one of the above but, be warned, tickets can be snapped up months in advance for the most popular events.

Cheltenham Town Hall

Rich in heritage, opulence and vibrancy, the much-loved jewel of Cheltenham sets a stunning backdrop for an impressive year-round events programme, as well as private functions and corporate hospitality.

As a productive agricultural area, the Cotswolds is the ideal place to sample local produce and there are many farmers’ markets dotted across the region in the various market towns and villages. From locally produced cheese to speciality sausages, there is an extraordinary range of quality food created here. Take a morning out to explore one or more of the wonderful markets listed below:

Cheltenham

Named the best farmers’ market in Gloucestershire by Cotswold Life, the Cheltenham market has a variety of stalls offering produce including fruit, vegetables, preserves, cakes, cheeses, free-range meat and plants. In December this bustling market is joined by a 10-day Christmas market offering various crafts and gifts. It was established over 12 years ago and is enthusiastically supported by the local community.

When: 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, 9am – 3pm
Where: The pedestrianised area of the Promenade, outside Cavendish House or in front of the Long Gardens

Cirencester

Sitting beneath the medieval spires of the Church of St. John the Baptist, this charming market has a range of locally brewed beer, baking, fruit and vegetables, pies and game. All primary produce is grown in the surrounding area and secondary produce must be made locally with at least one ingredient coming from the surrounding area. Regular stallholders include Corinium Ales who recently won Best Farmers’ Market Stallholder in the Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards.

When: 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, 9am -1pm
Where: Cirencester Market Place

Nailsworth

With between 18 and 20 stalls, this farmers’ market is one that offers an array of meat, vegetables, cheese, preserves, cakes and other produce. There are also a range of artisan craft stalls. In addition, most market days include live music giving it a festival vibe. The surrounding town is worth exploring with interesting shops and restaurants.

When: 4th Saturday of the month, 9am-1pm
Where: Mortimer Gardens, behind the Bus Station, Central Nailsworth

Stroud

The Stroud farmers’ market is one of the biggest and busiest farmers markets in the United Kingdom and is also known for being a bit of a celebrity haunt. While it has been featured by multiple cooking shows and major national publications, it has not lost its authenticity with all produce and crafts gathered or created within a 17-mile radius. It is also multi-award winning, scooping not one but two FARMA awards for Best Farmers’ Market and Radio 4’s Best Farmers’ Market in the country in 2010. The market has between 50 and 55 stalls depending on the season, including Cotswold cheeses, chutneys and preserves, speciality butchers, cooked food stalls, ice cream and certified organic traders. The market also has several special events throughout the year such as the apple day festivities in October, Christmas events in December and the occasional cooking demonstration from local celebrity chef, Robert Rees.

When: Every Saturday, 9am – 2pm
Where: Cornhill Market Place & Surrounding Streets, Stroud GL5 2HH

Chipping Norton

There has been a market in this Oxfordshire Cotswolds town since the 13th century and its medieval market square is now also the site of its monthly farmers’ market offering fresh, local food from the surrounding area. Stalls offer a variety of produce include baked goods, fruit, vegetables, meat, plants, preserves, honey, plants, beverages and dairy

When: 3rd Saturday of the month, 8.30am-1.30pm
Where: Chipping Norton Market Place

Cotswold Way

Cheltenham is right in the heart of the Cotswold Way, the national walking route that offers just over 100 miles of magical walking, with long distance views from the Cotswold escarpment, and journeys through picturesque villages and famous ancient sites.

For other great walking routes, visit The Cotswold AONB, it is the best source of information and you can download maps (walking and cycling) for free. Winchcombe, just north of Cheltenham, has ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status and many lovely footpaths with interesting things to see en-route.   You can visit a remote Roman villa, Belas Knap Long Barrow – a Neolithic burial site, as well as climb to the top of the Cotswold scarp and get fantastic views.  Winchcombe hosts an annual walking festival in May which offers a variety of walks with local guides, orienteering and evening events.

Winchcombe’s rolling countryside is a true walkers’ paradise, with options for casual, seasoned and hardy walkers running right from the cottage’s front door. Winchcombe itself is a “walkers are welcome” town, a special status awarded to towns and villages which go above and beyond with their walking amenities, making it a fantastic destination for groups in search of a walking break.

We recommend the Sudeley Castle Circular walk for a relaxing stroll; a 2-mile loop, taking you along the river, straight through the heart of the town and into the grounds of historic Sudeley Castle – a must-visit for any guest. The 2 ½ mile walk to Belas Knap, a Neolithic chambered long barrow sat atop Cleeve Hill, is also a great walk to try, providing you don’t mind the incline.

Bike Routes

Cotswold AONB

Bike Hire

TY Bikes, Chipping Norton

Bike Hub, Cheltenham

Cycling

The really memorable thing about cycling in the Cotswolds is the amazing variety of scenery you pass through, plus all the beautiful sights. For example, a 26-mile road trip starting at Burford, then heads across the stunning Coln Valley and follows quiet country lanes to Cirencester. Over the route you’ll pass the Cotswold Wildlife Park, Arlington Row Cottages at Bibury and on to Cirencester.

To avoid climbs, head over to the Severn Vale towards the Severn Estuary at Frampton on Severn and Sharpness. But fuel up along the way, perhaps at Slimbridge Wetland Sanctuary or at the pub in Frampton, because you’re going to have to get back up on the Cotswold scarp somewhere and somehow!

For off-road rides, piece routes together, connecting off-road sections via small country lanes. The Cotswold AONB website is great for this, with 6 routes to choose from.

For way-marked routes good for all the family, take a day trip to the Forest of Dean where there is a massive cycling community centred around the Cannop Valley, with a range of routes for all abilities from the Family Trail to the advanced Enduro Trail.

And then there’s FlyUp417 Bike Park, just a few miles outside Cheltenham, a haven for ultra-keen and pro mountain bikers. This 100-acre bike park just outside the centre of Gloucester is the biggest privately-owned mountain bike facility in England. It features downhill trails, an indoor pumptrack, a dirt jump barn and field, as well as the unique ‘uplift’ feature, with transport for you and your bike back to the top of the hill after a descent. If you can’t bring your own bike, bikes are available for hire. Important safety note: The small roads around the Cotswolds are wonderful for cycling but you must be ready at all times for possible oncoming traffic around lanes that are only one car wide in many places.

The Cotswolds is home to some of the most exquisite and luxurious spas around. From cutting-edge treatments and magnificent surroundings, to invigorating classes and revived ancient traditions, there’s an experience to suit everybody. We’ve even done all the hard work for you by putting together a list of our top spas in the Cotswolds!

Cotswold House Spa

Handily located in the heart of Chipping Campden High Street and open to residents and non-residents alike, Cotswold House Spa is the ideal spot to unwind with some serious R&R. With seven treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, aromatic steam room, relaxation room and programme of therapeutic and holistic therapies, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to pampering.

Calcot Spa, Tetbury

Calcot Spa is the quintessential Cotswold destination when it comes to spa days. Surrounded by beautiful woodland and soothing Cotswold stone, Calcot is a haven for peace and tranquillity. With 7 treatment rooms, 16m indoor pool, sauna, steam room and beautiful outdoor hot tub with open fire (to name but a few of their facilities!) this spa is fully equipped for rest and relaxation. There is also a fantastic variety of treatments, from spa days and evening packages, to massages or beauty and body treatments – you can tailor your visit to perfectly suit you.

Cowley Manor – C-side spa

Cowley Manor’s C-side spa offers a striking glass-fronted building set within 55 acres of parkland, woods and meadows just outside of Cheltenham. The 19m slate-lined indoor swimming pool and 15m outdoor heated swimming pool boast spectacular woodland views, as well as a unique modern ambience. Cowley Manor also use their very own custom range of bath, body and skincare products, Green & Spring, which are made using natural resources from Cowley Manor and the surrounding countryside.  This crisp, clean and contemporary environment is quite literally a breath of fresh air and makes for the perfect spa break.

The Spa at Dormy House

Renowned UK-wide amongst spa aficionados, this ultra-luxury spa at the wonderful Dormy House Hotel offers award-winning relaxation in a spectacular setting. Only 5 minutes from lovely Chipping Campden, here you can indulge in some serious R&R courtesy of the spa’s serene pool, terrace hot tub, Scandi-style thermal suite and programme of luxurious therapies for the face, body and mind. Non-guests of the hotel need to book a day spa pass to access, but we promise you it’s well worth it.

Bamford Haybarn Spa at Daylesford

A nourishing space for self-reflection, understanding and rejuvenation. Bamford Haybarn Spa places a strong emphasis on the connection and relationship between the physical and spiritual, as well as the human connection with nature. Yoga, pilates and meditation classes, workshops hosted by visiting therapists, facials, massage treatments and consultations provide exceptional holistic care for the mind, body and spirit – helping you nurture your inner peace.

Barnsley Spa and Skincare Centre, Barnsley

Tucked away from the main house through the beautiful manicured gardens hides Barnsley Spa and its glorious outdoor heated hydrotherapy pool. Boasting a host of spa treatments and aromatherapy, this delightful boutique spa is partnered by Elemis, winner of Best British Brand 2015. With an herbaceous sauna and personally controlled music, this is a spa to sooth the senses.

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