Pure luxury at the stylish Ellenborough Park Hotel, Cheltenham
Stylish Ellenborough Park is pure luxury
by Karen Jones
Karen Jones finds the fully refurbished Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham is an utter delight
It dates from the 1500s, but the newly restored Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham places it firmly in the 21st century.
The stunning hotel, which overlooks the celebrated racecourse, has a fascinating history. The former home of the Earl of Ellenborough, Governor General of India, in the 19th century, it has also been a private school for girls and, latterly, a hotel.
Bought by the new owners in 2008, it has been lavished with millions of pounds and is now lovingly restored to a high standard to welcome a new generation of guests.
It is undoubtedly luxurious. It offers fine dining, beautiful rooms, country sports and spa facilities in a very relaxed country setting. Less than two hours from London and an hour or so away from Birmingham, this magnificent English country hotel is perfect for that weekend away or mid week break.
A long, meandering drive leads you to the resplendent Cotswold honey-coloured façade and your car is promptly met by a member of the Ellenborough team. Details such as this make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.
Personal service is key to Ellenborough Park. There are just 62 bedrooms and suites, including a sumptuous open plan and one split-level suite, which means it is small enough to feel intimate.
As you stroll around the grounds, you cannot help but be impressed by this very beautiful building that has been so sympathetically restored, but inside is just as spectacular.
The interior décor has been designed by Nina Campbell, one of the world’s most renowned interior designers, and is a wonderful combination of quintessentially English with a lovely modern twist. The luxurious furnishings are carefully selected to be both comfortable, yet glamorous in this stately setting. The hotel also features an Indian themed spa, which has taken its inspiration from the travels of its previous owner.
The Spa at Ellenborough Park provides a welcome retreat for hotel guests. If we felt as if we’d left our cares behind as we reached the long driveway to the hotel, we were a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world when we reached the spa. It was a lovely little haven for unwinding, with its hydrotherapy pool, fitness suite and an outdoor swimming pool.
If you want to enjoy the grounds and a more strenuous walk, you can borrow a pair of Hunter wellingtons from the hotel, which keeps a selection, along with Dubarry walking boots and socks. There is no need to bring a cumbersome wardrobe with you.
All the walking and relaxing builds up an appetite and we dined in the beautiful Beaufort Dining Room, with its stunning stained glass windows and charming, medieval feel.
It is here, in this cosy dining room, that the superb à la carte menu, with local ingredients where possible, is served.
Overseen by head chef David Kelman, it is a menu for discerning diners who love fine foods. Starters include sublime Uig Lodge smoked salmon with capers, gherkins, shallots, parsley mayonnaise and a soft boiled quail’s egg; creamed English goat’s curd with apple, celery and shallot salad and caramelised hazelnuts; and home smoked duck breast with spice crumbed foie gras and apple and plum purée.
Each dish was beautifully presented and we took time to savour the wonderful combination of flavours. David is an exceptional talent who leads a team of dedicated chefs who really care about the food they serve.
The starters gave us a wonderful taste of what was to come. We were not disappointed.
Main courses included Chateaubriand of Hereford Cross beef with roast chateau potatoes, seasonal vegetables, béarnaise sauce and a red wine jus; whole grilled Lemon Sole off the bone with vegetables and caper, herb and shallot butter; roast rump of spring lamb with broad beans, buttered leeks and Jersey Royal new potatoes.
But if we had to recommend one dish it would be the wonderful 62 degree cooked loin of Old Spot pork with braised cheek and Savoy cabbage, a sage and onion bon bon and lentils and greengage. Stunning.
Our meal was accompanied by some beautiful wines, chosen by sommelier Tobias Brauweiler. The cellar contains more than 500 varieties, ranging from the reasonably priced to the sublime and the rare.
Cheese lovers can also expect an unparalleled selection after dinner. A total of 14 varieties included soft Cotswold White and Bosworth Ash, Gubbeen smoked and sticky Cornish Blue.
After dinner, guests are invited to retire to the Great Hall where they can take coffee and enjoy a late night game of Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit or any other of the many games available from the hotel.
These are rarefied surroundings to enjoy a board game, but it seemed entirely right. And it was a lovely, gentle way to end our perfect evening.
This was a superb experience and one that we would highly recommend.
Ellenborough Park, Southam Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 3NH email@example.com
www.ellenboroughpark.com Tel: 01242 807 656