Need to know
Midday. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $217.70 (£163), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include a Continental breakfast (a full English for Smiths).
On sunny, English afternoons, keep the waddling ducks company and have tea on the terrace overlooking the lake. If even this sounds like too much effort for a lazy holiday, seek out one of the hammocks in the grounds for a spot of well-deserved shut-eye.
At the hotel
55 acres of land, billiards room, spa (the C-Side) with four treatment rooms, gym, sauna.
Our favourite rooms
The stable-block rooms, especially the split-level ones; these are especially handy if you have children, and need a bit more space. If you're travelling à deux, try to book the Best room (actual name) – it has a private terrace (with lake views, 'natch), enormous bath and four-poster bed.
There are two pools: a 17m, slate-lined indoor pool and an elegant outdoor pool with a bar, waiter service and rows of sleek sun loungers. Both are heated year round.
The gorgeous C-Side spa uses all natural, organic products – even the water is from a nearby Cowley spring. All the treatments are designed by award-winning therapist Michelle Roques-O'Neil, and are exclusive to Cowley – so you won't find their facials or massages anywhere else. We're particularly partial to a 'Cloud 9' massage, which combines aromatherapy and reflexology in a heavenly, 90-minute treatment. If you're feeling spritely, try one of the fitness classes: there's 'rebel yoga' (much more fun than the usual, hushed version), 'bootcamp' sessions and aqua aerobics.
Bring your running kit, if you fancy scenic cross-country jogs. In June and July, a Panama hat and a few linen shirts wouldn't go amiss; year round, pack your waterproofs: the English weather is notoriously unpredictable.
CD and DVD library. Wellington boots are provided. Two-night minimum stay at weekends. Some rooms are suitable for guests with mobility issues; please ask the Smith24 Team when booking.
The hotel is very accommodating of furry Smiths: you and your pooch can stay in one of the two pet-friendly rooms for an extra £25 a night, and man's best friend will even get dog treats, a bowl and a bed free of charge. See more pet-friendly hotels in Cotswolds.
Smiths of all ages are welcome at Cowley. They're also very accommodating of mums-to-be, and will give you a special pregnancy pillow and a little gift on arrival.
Cowley is the perfect spot for little Smiths: there's plenty for them to do here, and the staff are extra-welcoming of young ones.
Babies, tots and teens.
Cots can be added to rooms free; there's a £40 supplement for a rollaway bed (per child, per night, including breakfast and a two-course dinner from the children's menu each night). We particularly love the split level rooms with bunk beds.
There are 55 acres of grounds to explore. In July, Cheltenham’s Music and Fringe Festival features music concerts, street entertainment, comedy and fireworks; and there's the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford (01285 713300; www.airtattoo.com).
There are indoor and outdoor pools, and children's swimming times keep all the guests happy. Kids are welcome for splash-abouts at both pools from 8am–11am and 3.30pm–5pm.
Kids can dine any time in the bar, lounge or restaurant, and there's a special menu to cater to younger tastes (from £7.50).
Babysitting is available by arrangement; the hotel can recommend some contacts.
There's a DVD library to choose films from. Ask for hot-water bottles to warm beds with.