Worth getting out of bed for
If shopping’s your bag, you’re spoilt for choice here, with the pick of the high street (Hobbs, Diesel, the White Company, Cath Kidston, etc) along the Promenade, and boutiques galore in the Suffolks and Montpellier. Make a beeline to Foundation boutique on Montpellier Walk (01242 232777; shopfoundation.com) for cool daywear and accessories, including Rützou, Alex Monroe and Farhi. The Pied Piper (01242 251532; www.steiffbears.net) and Pretty Special (01242 262679; www.prettyspecial.co.uk) are the places to spoil new parents and their offspring with Steiff bears or diddy clothes respectively (the washed-muslin sleeping bags are indeed pretty special). The Suffolks is best for antiques-browsing and interiors accoutrements: we love the chic vintage finds, Franchi seeds and gardener’s kit on offer at Capability on Suffolk Parade (+44 (0)1242 262999; www.capability-online.co.uk). Blighty on Great Norwood Street (01242 691542; www.blightyengland.com) has a well-edited selection of interiors pieces.
Fancy sprawling supine on the lawns? Cobble together a decent deli picnic (or pre-order a hamper) at Gusto; make it a proper occasion with a bottle of something special from John Gordons (borrow the bottle opener from your minibar).
Le Champignon Sauvage (+44 (0)1242 573449; www.lechampignonsauvage.co.uk) on Suffolk Road cooks up a two-Michelin-star storm; reservations essential. Follow local fans a few hundred yards to The Daffodil (+44 (0)1242 700055; www.thedaffodil.com), also in the Suffolks, where a former art deco cinema has been transformed into a Modern British bistro and bar. On the promenade, Brasserie Blanc in the former ballroom of the Queens Hotel is one of eponymous chef Raymond’s buzzy French bistros (+44 (0)1242 266800). Fynn’s Bar & Brasserie (+44 (0)1242 252752) is another local favourite in the heart of the Montpellier district.
Pick up a bottle (or a glass) of something special at John Gordons, a speciality wine merchant, café and bar (01242 245985; www.johngordons.co.uk).
Other cosy local drinking (and lunching) spots include Jay Rayner-approved Royal Well Tavern (+44 (0)1242 221212; www.theroyalwelltavern.com); in the nearby Suffolks, The Beehive pub ((+44 (0)1242 702270; www.thebeehivemontpellier.com) and The Retreat wine bar (+44 (0)1242 235436; www.theretreatwinebar.com) are recommended. You could also try the Conservatory café-bar on Winchcombe Street (+44 (0)1242 579090; www.conservatorycafebar.co.uk) for laid-back drinks.
Montpellier's much-loved deli-caffé Gusto (+44 (0)1242 239111; www.gusto-deli.com), on Montpellier Walk, is local legend: great coffee and treaty lunchtime deli boards stacked with home-made pickles, terrines and breads from Hobbs House bakery; there's a tempting array of cakes, ciabatta sandwiches and the like to go, too.
Mid-March And they're off! Book accomodation early for the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup – it's one of the most popular events on the racing calendar (0844 579 3003; www.cheltenham.co.uk). April/May Trumpets tootle, piano keys syncopate and singers be-bop at the all-swinging Cheltenham Jazz Festival (www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz). October Leading literary lights brighten up autumn at the renowned Cheltenham Literary Festival (www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature).
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Smith extra at The Montpellier Chapter
A £10 voucher to spend in the hotel restaurant