Recently I spent a night at Ellenborough Park, a newly renovated spa and country hotel in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
The scene was set from the route I took by car, dreamily idyllic with long, winding country lanes that lead straight to the grounds and if the weather is glorious as it was the day I went, it lights up the sheer beauty of the village the home is nestled in. It was hard to believe two and half hours earlier, I was leaving the stress and tension of London traffic.
Cheltenham is historically a spa town as well the home of the flagship race of British steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup. In such quintessential English surroundings, Ellenborough Park proudly overlooks the race course.
The renovation of the Grade II-listed Elizabethan manor house has cost millions and taken two years to complete. Every effort has been made to ensure you are getting a service reflective of the luxurious price you’re paying for.
Upon my arrival I was greeted at reception and my luggage was swiftly taken to my room. The treatment you receive is impeccable – staff are so gracious and forthcoming to assist that you feel like royalty.
My room was as large and well equipped as some hotel suites in London except by Ellenborough Park’s standards, it was a room with an ensuite bathroom. The actual suites (some of which I had a sneaky peak at) were astounding. This isn’t to say my room was any less, in fact I couldn’t be happier.
Every room and suite is uniquely decorated. In total the 15th Century country estate boasts 62 fully-restored and new bedrooms. It’s all done tastefully in a Tudor style with a contemporary twist.
All rooms feature flat screen HD TVs, personal safes that can fit laptops, iPod docking stations, hairdryers, bathrobes and slippers, minibars, air-conditioning plus a separate seating and working area though frankly I wasn’t bothered about the mod cons when taking sanctuary in my room was more of a priority.
I should really tell you about the beds. Made to Ellenborough Park’s own specifications by Hypnos (suppliers of beds for the Royal households), once you’ve slept in one of these will you realise how much you want a bed like this. It looks so inviting – I don’t think I’ve never woken up so rested after a night’s sleep until I drifted off in one of these.
The bathrooms are beautifully designed, and I couldn’t resist spending more time in mine than in the actual spa. There’s a walk-in shower, a roll top bath tub and his-and-hers sinks on a marble work-top with Penhaligon toiletries and under-floor heating too.
Since Cheltenham is famously a spa town, it makes sense Ellenborough Park have built one for its guests. Their spa features a hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room and mood showers, and upstairs there are 7 spacious treatment rooms and a juice bar. Outside there is a heated pool and also an on-site gym for residents.
I had an Express Discovery Prescription Facial (£50), using Babor products, which have married natural plant-based ingredients with extensive research by top dermatological scientists, creating a range suitable for all skin types and ages.
After analysing my ‘youthful’ face, my therapist recommended I have the 25 minute facial rather than the lengthier 55 minute one. I closed my eyes on the treatment bed and let the therapist cast her magic.
The express facial aims to revitalise and rejuvenate the skin and involves a deep cleanse and facial exfoliation before a combination of massage and moisturisers are applied. When it was over, I noticed my face looked refreshed from its previous tired state.
As far as facials go, this one differed – there was a limited use of products with emphasis on stimulating the facial muscles and relaxing the body. It also made a pleasant change not to have your face layered with lotions and potions.
Ellenborough Park offers a variety of breaks, with prices starting from £150 per night for bed and breakfast in a Traditional Room, based on two people sharing (subject to availability). Stay also includes full use of spa and leisure facilities. There is a restaurant on site but the town centre is just a few minutes away if you fancy more choice. As the spa and hotel is within close distance of the race course during peak time at the races will mean rooms will get snapped up early.
For all its luxuries and exclusive little touches, Ellenborough Park may not be within a lot of people’s budgets but consider what you’re getting and compare it to a weekend in London. Well, there is just no comparison.
Ellenborough Park is a beautiful retreat in the heart of the Cotswolds, a place to escape to from the chaos of city life and just one night away totally recharges your batteries. In its own words, it’s a “classical contradiction” – beautifully historic yet elegantly modern. A stay here is the best prescription any doctor could (or should) give.
You can drive to Ellenborough Park or take the train to Cheltenham Spa, which is 10 minutes away by taxi. To find out more, visit their website www.ellenboroughpark.com or telephone on 01242 807 851.
*I was a guest of Ellenborough Park for this post.