Regally restored Georgian townhouse, No 38 The Park is a calming Cotswolds home-from-home. Its distinctly loungeable lounge plays gallery to an impressive collection of British art. Repair upstairs and you'll find 13 individually designed rooms, all elegantly accented with statement wallpaper, tactile throws and tempting antique tubs. If we're ever asked to pick a Cheltenham winner, our money's on No 38…
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Luggage storage is available for early arrivals and later departures.
Double rooms from £99.00, including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates usually include Continental and cooked breakfast, Bloody Marys or Buck’s Fizz (unless booking the room-only rate).
If you fancy indulging in an in-room spa treatment, ask for details before arrival.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, free on-site parking. In rooms: Apple TV, Bose iPod dock, WiFi, Nespresso coffee machine and Bramley bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms are individually decorated, have beds bedecked with bespoke throws, and artworks by British artists, including David Hockney, Sir Peter Blake and Roni Stretch. Book an Excellent Room to guarantee one of the impressively indulgent bath tubs; we’re especially partial to the free-standing tin number in Room 7.
Bring richly-hued wellies to match the pops of colour inside and cosy jumpers that transition effortlessly from park walks to evening drinks by the fire.
The hotel has only one ground-floor room and no lift, so it isn't best suited to guests who have mobility issues.
Grab a green bench seat by the folding glass doors to catch the morning sun.
Channel updated country looks if you’d like, or make yourself at home: no one will bat an eyelid if you came down for breakfast in your slippers, so long as you don’t take a page from the Emperor’s New Clothes with your other sartorial choices.
A new restaurant is in the works, but the hotel is currently only serving breakfast – come morning, you'll find a Continental buffet spread and all your early-hours favourites (we're partial to the frankly genius combination of honeycomb and porridge, the fluffy pancakes topped with crisp streaky bacon and the creatively concocted Bloody Marys).
The restaurant-entrance corridor is home to a well-stocked, artfully arranged bar area where staff will surface to take your order. Beers and ciders (including one made by the owner's family, no less) are on hand to soothe a spicy supper and there's a wine list peppered with nimble whites and bolshy reds.
Early risers rejoice: breakfast is available from 7am to 10am.
You’ll find the hotel on the edge of Pittville Park and about eight furlongs from Cheltenham Racecourse.
From Bristol Airport it’s two hours by car to the hotel; arrange a transfer for two people for £80 each way. Heathrow International Airport is also two hours away; transfers for two cost £85.
Trains from London, Manchester, Bristol and Bath pull into Cheltenham Spa, five kilometres from the hotel. Arrange a transfer or grab a taxi at the station for under £10.
Guests exploring the Cotswolds by car can park at the hotel's car park or in front of the hotel for £10 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Cheltenham Racecourse is only a few furlongs down the road; don your fanciest fanscinators and dandiest top hats for a day at the races. If you prefer a slower pace, Pittville Park is practically on the hotel’s doorstep. For an idyllic afternoon, take your beau or belle rowing on the lake. Admire local modern art at the Wilson Gallery on Clarence Street, or catch a concert or comedy show at Cheltenham Town Hall.
The Tavern on Royal Well Place follows a ‘nose to tail’ philsophy, using locally sourced ingredients in everything from small plates to sharing dishes. It also has a wide range of craft beers, cocktails and wines from across the world to go with the modern British fare. It’s not exactly a looker from the outside, but Le Champignon Sauvage on Suffolk Road is the long-standing favourite for French cuisine in Cheltenham. It’s helmed by award-winning chef David Everitt-Matthias, has a seasonally changing menu and does not allow visible phones. Meat-loving Smiths can get their protein fix at The Ox, where it’s all about the steak, ribs and charcuterie sharing boads. Start with a gin-based Silver Bullet apéritif and choose from the red-heavy wine list for your meal. For British dinners with a twist, book a table at Lumière on Clarence Parade; its kitchen is run by Blumenthal-trained, Somerset-born Jon Howe.
On cool days, grab a takeaway coffee at the Scandinavian Coffee Pod on St George’s Place before heading into the park.
For a classic Cotswolds pub experience, complete with garden seating, pull up a chair and order a round at the Beehive. Have a dram or two of whisky, or a few glasses of wine if that’s more your style, at John Gordons whisky and wine bar. Book ahead if you want to take part in a guided tasting.
As soon as you arrive at boutique hotel No 38 the Park in leafy, gracious Cheltenham, you know you’re never going to want to leave. From the sweeping staircase in the hallway, to the comfy sofas in the lounge, strong edit of coffee-table magazines, and – when we visit – classic Christmas decorations draped around the fireplace, it all just feels… well, lovely. The thing that really strikes me is that No 38 doesn’t feel like a hotel at all; it feels like a home. Not necessarily my home (if only), but a wealthy aunt’s perhaps — one with impeccable taste. She’s a great host and I truly do feel like she’s thrilled I’m here to visit.
Mr Smith and I arrive at No 38 late on Thursday after a slow journey from rush hour-riddled London. Once we’re inside though, the hotel’s warm and buzzing — a Christmas party is taking place in the dining room — and instantly, I’ve forgotten about the drive. There’s no check-in desk per se, but a cabinet in the lounge with bits and pieces that do the trick. I like the informality here. For regular travellers, it’s sure to be refreshing. We’re shown around the ground floor, which is comprised of a large lounge, dining room, kitchen and conservatory, before being led upstairs to our room.
At first I’m confused as we’re ushered to one of several open doors on the landing. I assume this is perhaps where the tour continues, but in fact, this beautiful suite, complete with a bath tub at the foot of the bed, is our home for the weekend! In my head I’m doing my happy dance.
I skip around the room in glee, then do the same in the bathroom, in which there is actually room to dance… Host a disco, even. We’ve got his and hers sinks and his and hers showers. So over-indulgent, but I have zero complaints. The honeycomb-shaped tiles on the floor and emerald tiles lining the walls make it Pinterest gold, and I’m busy taking visual notes to add to my dream bathroom wishlist.
I’m not even that big on taking baths, but the novelty of having one in the bedroom turns me into a super-fan. Before long, I’m knee deep in bubbles while Mr Smith watches Sky Sports on the TV. It’s s paradise for us both, and it’s just a bonus that it happens to be contained within the same room.
We miss last orders at No 131, The Park’s off-site sister restaurant, which is a pain – but we settle for a quick dinner at the local Thai. We don’t mind, more time in the room is only a bonus, especially when there’s that pour-yourself-a-nightcap honesty bar downstairs. However, it’s worth noting that No 131 aren’t hesitant to close the kitchen a little early if it’s quiet, so be sure to book ahead.
When we wake up the next morning our requested tray of croissants and orange juice is waiting outside our door. What a treat! A pre-breakfast breakfast which, for someone who likes a lie-in, but also snacks, is completely perfect. Not long after, breakfast in the dining room doesn’t disappoint. There are the most wonderful pistachio pastries, as well as cheeses, hams, fruit and even a Bloody Mary station. From the hot menu, order eggs, if just to witness the brightest yellow yolks.
Later, we trundle into Cheltenham town (a mere 10-minute walk away) and return to accidently snooze in the lounge. Whoops! But that’s how homely we’re talking… It’s all just so relaxing.
One of my favourite things though, possibly the simplest of all, is that all the doors to the vacant bedrooms are deliberately left open. This not only satisfies a Nosy Parker like me, who wants to see not just my room but everyone else’s, but really makes No. 38 feel like a home over a hotel.
When it finally comes to checking out, we’re reluctant, but paying up is a quick, simple job and we’re packed on our way with bottled water and snacks — it really is like we’re at my Aunt’s house…