What could be better than a weekend break in the Cotswolds? Why a mid-week break of course! It feels more decadent, more naughty and more of an escape. With that thought in mind I booked a two night mid-week stay at Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham for myself and a friend.
An absolute must for me on this trip was to have lunch at Daylesford Organic, owned by Lord and Lady Bamford. Take a look at http://daylesford.com/kingham/ Apart from the café and farm shop (and WOW what a farm shop!), they have a spa, cookery school, some cottages to rent, a florist and a shop selling the products of the softest cashmere made specially in Italy. For lunch we had THE best burgers I have ever eaten, anywhere ! (I do not usually eat burgers – being rather suspicious of their contents) They were so good that we spoke to the Daylesford butcher and asked him to have some ready for us to pick up on our way home on Friday. Would that mean driving a little out of our way? Of course, but we timed it so that we were there in time for lunch .. again! (this time for chicken, ham and leek pie).
So, well fed and watered and with a list of groceries to pick up on our way home, we continue to Ellenborough Park.
The check in is seamless and we are shown to our room. Passing the Great Hall, we note the open stone work, the heavy pieces of furniture, large and inviting sofas, and welcoming fire. Climbing the main staircase we stop and admire the mural of a woodland scene, my favourite character is the owl. The overall feel is peaceful, relaxing and homely, not at all stuffy like some country house hotels. Our room is incredible with wonderful high ceilings, tasteful furnishings in keeping with the age of the property, comfortable beds and a gorgeous bathroom with natural daylight. Surely this is one of their best rooms.
That afternoon we are both booked in for spa treatments opting for massages using products produced locally. Relaxed after our treatments it is all we can do to get ready for dinner in the brasserie that evening. The food in the brasserie was excellent but I was curious to note that there was only one other table occupied at dinner. Lunch the next day is a different story with almost every table occupied.
Thursday was really all about the food, starting with a wonderful breakfast comprised mostly of locally sourced ingredients. A short walk around Cheltenham allowed just about enough time to work up an appetite for lunch which is followed a couple of hours later by Afternoon Tea! Having already eaten our way through the day, we skip the sandwiches and opt for just scones and jam – divine! Our table is beside the roaring fire in the Great Hall, the sofas so large and welcoming that we are surprised to find that we have spent three hours over our scones! This really is the stuff that weekend (and mid-week) escapes are all about.
Friday dawns and all too soon our little break is over. Perhaps if we had longer we would have borrowed some of the hotels Dubarry boots and a coat from the Boot Room, and climbed Cleeve Hill? or walked to the racecourse? or gone riding at the nearby riding school? Perhaps… but I rather think we would probably just have uncovered some more locally foodie treasures and guaranteed that our next little break should be a Boot Camp or Weight Loss Clinic!
Ellenborough is the perfect balance of stately and comfortable, the staff friendly but not intrusive, the views wonderful and whilst you can be as energetic as you like you can also just enjoy shopping and eating (very well). In short, it is the perfect little escape for friends and families alike.