I find myself in Cheltenham a number of times a year but usually for work, and so never really tend to see this pretty Cotswold town as a weekend break destination. But it really is, ideal for accessing the rolling Cotswolds hills or for those (locals or tourists) looking for a weekend break in an elegant Regency spa town.
Last week I was in Cheltenham again for work, and this time we had a full day meeting at No 38 the Park, a boutique hotel close to the centre of town. I absolutely loved it. The sure way to winning my affection is by having a dog greet you upon arrival. She was the best host possible, and even wanted to come into the meeting with me.
No. 38 the Park is one of the Lucky Onion’s Cotswold ventures (who are known for the equally wonderful Wheatsheaf and No 131). While No 38 is in a stunning Regency Townhouse, it feels more like a home than a hotel (you can in fact take over the whole place privately). There is no reception desk, or staff wandering around constantly. It’s peaceful and homely and very stylish, with a unique art collection.
They don’t have a restaurant as such, but they do have a beautiful ‘dining room’ where you can have a lazy breakfast or a relaxed pre-ordered lunch (the sandwiches were incredible). They also have a wonderful courtyard terrace which will be great in the summer. If you’re thirsty they have a huge honestly bar, where you can help yourself to a selection of their local beers, or make a Fever Tree G&T.
They have 13 bedrooms, all very individual, in different sizes. But all stunning. I loved the different wall papers, and the use of colour. Even the smaller bedrooms have their own charm, often with incredible roll top baths. Each bedroom comes with a Nespresso machine, 100 Acres bath products and HD TV with Sky. Their honeymoon suite is a real show stopped, with the most incredible ‘his ‘n her’ showers.
If you’re looking for a romantic bolthole with affordable prices, No. 38 is ideal. Next time I come here I just hope to stay the night and sample those very comfortable looking beds.
No. 38 the Park
38 Evesham Road,
Southampton is not the first place you’d think to go for an English weekend break. And had the Pig in the Wall not been there, I would not have recommended it. However, the Pig in the Wall is the perfect ‘gate way’ to the New Forest and so ideal for a Saturday night stay. Apart from that, the Pig in the Wall is nestled in what remains of Southampton’s 12th century city walls, and so has a lot of charm in itself.
Those of you who have not been to the Pig are in for a treat. The original of the now five Pig hotels is the Pig at Brockenhurst, in the heart of the New Forest in Hampshire. I stayed here for the weekend over three years ago, and absolutely loved it. The problem is, everyone loves it and so it’s always fully booked. Solution? Book the Pig in the Wall (often with much better availability AND lower prices).
You’re only a 15 – 20 minute drive from the New Forest from here (having a car is ideal), so you can spend the whole of Saturday walking / biking in the New Forest (here are some ideas) and then you can head back to the Pig in the Wall in the afternoon to freshen up and enjoy their lovely rooms. They also have a wonderful sitting room/cafe/lobby, where you can sit by the fire in the winter or on their terrace outside in the summer. They serve delicious (and very strong) coffees / drinks / snacks all day long, and the best continental breakfasts in the morning. I absolutely loved this room, it really feels like you’re a guest at someone’s (stunning) home. The staff are beyond friendly.
There are twelve bedrooms here, all individual. We had the Snug room which was undeniably very snug (the Cosy room is a bit bigger, for £20 more). But also with a lot of character, under the eaves. Our room had the Pig’s signature very comfortable beds, and fantastic power shower. They use space cleverly, so you really have everything you need. And with prices starting from £120, it’s good value.
One of the other perks of staying at the Pig in the Wall is the complimentary Land Rover ‘shuttle service’, where they will drive you to the Pig at Brockenhurst for dinner (book this far in advance!), and pick you up afterwards. So you can enjoy a drink or two without worrying about how you’re going to get back. And I highly recommend this. The Pig at Brockenhurst was even lovelier than I remembered, with now an expanded organic vegetable garden and a phenomenal restaurant. And after dinner we could even still enjoy a few night caps by the fire.
Bottom line: the Pig hotels remain some favourite British hotels. And I’m keen to visit their newest two (the Pig on the Beach, and the Pig at Coombe) soon.
The Pig in the Wall
8 Western Esplanade