Why we love Cheltenham

Discover fine dining and stunning architecture in this Festival Town in the Cotswolds. Book your train tickets in plenty of time to take advantage of the cheapest fares.

Bordering the Cotswolds, in the leafy county of Gloucestershire, lies the charming Regency town of Cheltenham. For much of the year Cheltenham’s cultural life revolves around an extraordinary roster of festivals, including ones dedicated to jazz (5–10 May), science (2–7 June), music (3–12 July) and literature (2–11 October). It’s also a great place to dine, hang out and explore the surrounding countryside.

Where do I start?

The best way to discover Cheltenham is by bike. You can hire some wheels from The Bicycle Hub at Cheltenham Spa station. Pittville Park is to the north of the town, just a 15-minute cycle from the station, and boasts the magnificent Regency-era Pittville Pump Room, one of the town’s grandest spa buildings, open to the public Wednesday–Sunday. It is also a venue, with regular concerts and events.

Where to eat?

The Ox is a top-quality restaurant, perfect for a chilled-out bite to eat, or something a little more elaborate if you fancy the full dining experience. Their Sunday lunch is well worth checking out if you’re around at the weekend.

Where should I kip?

Regarded as one of the best hotels in the Cotswolds, No. 131 is housed in a traditional Georgian building, a short distance from Cheltenham’s fashionable Montpellier district. Inside you’ll find a mixture of original features alongside contemporary artwork by Banksy, Tracy Emin and Peter Blake. The rooms are stylish and elegant, complementing the area’s architecture, and the adjoining restaurant offers quality, hearty dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea.

What’s hip?

If you fancy a cocktail, there’s no better place to grab a top-notch martini or a floral lavender fizz than Lily Gins. It’s a loud and extroverted place with lots of character, plush seating and knowledgeable staff. Also, consider taking part in one of their cocktail masterclasses – perfect for a special occasion.

If I do one thing?

You can’t go to Cheltenham without spending a day at the races. Cheltenham Racecourse is one of the country’s best-known race venues, and with multiple restaurants and bars to choose from it’s the perfect place to spend the day. The Cheltenham Festival 2020 will take place from 10–13 March, so dig out your fascinator and put your money on a winner.

Historic highlights

The great English composer Gustav Holst, best known for his stellar orchestral suite The Planets, was born in Cheltenham. His home, now the Holst Birthplace Museum, is a time capsule that transports you back to the Victorian era.

The Montpellier Caryatids are yet another iconic Regency landmark. These ‘armless ladies’ are based on classical sculptures found on the Acropolis in Athens. There are 32 in total, lining the streets of the boutique shopping district.

Fancy seeing some art? Then look no further than The Wilson, Cheltenham’s foremost art museum, with work from the Arts and Crafts movement as well as items relating to Edward Wilson’s part in Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic

Only in Cheltenham

Take a stroll down Cheltenham’s famous tree-lined Promenade and discover the ‘long gardens’. Formerly in the grounds surrounding the Sherborne Spa, the area is popular with locals and visitors alike.

Open every year from 30 March-11 October, Sandford Parks Lido consists of a 50-metre swimming pool, children’s pool and paddling pool, all heated to the perfect temperature.

Keen shoppers, make your way to the Brewery Quarter mall, where you’ll find everything required to meet your retail needs, including plenty of places to eat and drink.