Think Cheltenham, think horse racing? You wouldn’t be the first to equate this elegant spa town on the edge of the Cotswolds with its most famous calendar fixture. But there are plenty more reasons to visit. Stroll tree-lined avenues fringed by grand Regency buildings, play spot the celebrity at The Ivy or visit during one of Cheltenham’s other festivals which tick off everything from science to literature. This plummy place has beauty and brains, dahling.
A perfect day in Cheltenham
The Montpellier area is textbook Cheltenham, from the tree trunk-sized classical columns to the stucco façades. Stroll along film-set streets then temper their Regency splendour with a wander past the town’s bright, ballsy murals. More appear every year at the Cheltenham Paint Festival.
Montpellier isn’t just a pretty face – it’s also a hub of boutique shops which spill out along The Promenade, The Suffolks and Bath Road, aka the Notting Hill of Cheltenham. Try high-end dress agency Just Mint for pre-loved designer clothes and browse Malone’s Vintage for handpicked retro gems. Visit Olive in the town centre for whimsical fashion finds.
Pay a visit to Pittville Park, to the north of the town centre. Sweeping lawns give way to glassy ornamental lakes and the elegant Pump Room stands as proud as Punch at one end. This place is so big that even on a busy Saturday you can bagsy a slice of it to yourself.
Wrap up your visit with a night tucked away in Castle Gatehouse - your very own tiny, turetted pile. This small but super-grand gatehouse is on the edge of the Sudeley Castle estate, surrounded by Cotswolds countryside and a short walk from the postcardready town of Winchcombe. A stay here includes access to historic Sudeley Castle – the home and final resting place of Tudor queen Katherine Parr – and its lush gardens, as well as the romantic ruins of an ancient banqueting hall. Once all the visitors have left, the place is yours to lounge around in. Ours is the four-poster. Ellie Walker-Arnott. £120 a night.