The Cotswolds has long been officially designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, and many of the properties here match the good looks of their surroundings. One such place is Ellenborough Park Hotel, a gorgeous five star manor house located near Cheltenham Spa. With 60 bedrooms and suites designed by Nina Campbell and fine dining by Executive Head Chef David Kelman, it’s a wonderful place for a relaxing break.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF ELLENBOROUGH PARK
The first thing you notice when driving through the grounds is the sense of space – there are 90 acres of grounds, and a path leading directly to the racecourse. We loved the horse sculpture outside the hotel, giving a nod to the racing nearby. The house itself is over 500 years old and has kerb appeal in spades. In 1533, it’s described in the King’s Antiquary as a “pretty manor place”. The hotel takes its name from the 1st Earl of Ellenborough who purchased the estate in 1833. The reception staff were efficient and friendly and quickly checked us in.
ACCOMMODATION AT ELLENBOROUGH PARK
We had been invited to stay in Woodland Court, a modern annexe to the main house constructed in period style and with the distinctive honey coloured Cotswold stone. All rooms have luxurious Hypnos beds, one of which I have at home, they’re so comfy. Our Deluxe Double was a good size and we liked the chaise longue and the chest at the end of the bed. It could just have done with a bit of colour on the bed itself in the form of a throw or contrasting pillows.
The large bathroom would not have looked out of place in an interiors magazine, with its Metro wall tiles, marble floor and sinks, plus a striking roll-top bath. There’s underfloor heating and fluffy bathrobes and slippers for a cosy atmosphere.
The rooms in Woodland Court have the advantage of overlooking the outdoor swimming pool and also have their own private terrace equipped with a table and chairs – perfect for relaxing.
FACILITIES AT ELLENBOROUGH PARK
The 15 metre pool is heated and there were a few people enjoying it whilst we were there. Pedrino Poolside bar apparently serves up delicious cocktails.
Also in Woodland Court, there’s a well equipped fitness suite with Techno Gym machines.
Close by, you’ll find the hotel’s Indian-themed spa. The Earl of Ellenborough was former Governor General of India and the spa combines Eastern and Western techniques to leave you completely relaxed and reinvigorated.
We weren’t able to visit the interior as there were people having treatments but there are 7 treatment rooms including a couple’s room, a jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and relaxation room.
OUT AND ABOUT IN ELLENBOROUGH PARK
The Great Hall has a real wow factor, with high ceilings, chandeliers, stained glass windows and attractive wood-panelling. I’d love to know more about the history of the place but I couldn’t find anything on the hotel website or in the rooms.
There’s a cosy Minstrel’s Gallery mezzanine level that you access via a winding set of stairs…
…whilst a harp adds to the classy ambiance. The two adjoining rooms are equally attractive.
There’s also a magnificent wooden staircase close to the Beaufort Dining Room.
We now headed outside to explore the grounds, starting at the Gazebo. This romantic spot that is often used for weddings, with the guests seated on the lawn in front of it.
I may have grown up but I’ve never grown out of swings 😉
DINING AT ELLENBOROUGH PARK
There are two restaurants at Ellenborough Park, the casual Brasserie and 3 AA rosette restaurant, The Beaufort Dining Room. We dined in the latter, which has many historic features like the magnificent Tudor fireplace.
Executive Head Chef David Kelman has overseen the restaurants at Ellenborough Park since 2011. He won the Welsh heat of the Great British Menu TV series in 2014. David and his team focus on contemporary cuisine and try to source food locally wherever possible. The attention to detail is fabulous, like these beautiful plates designed especially for Ellenborough Park.
We chose the a la carte three course menu and were brought a selection of complimentary appetizers that were really tasty. The homemade warm tearing bread was a nice touch too.
Paul’s unusual Cornish crab and cod Scotch egg starter was a sight for sore eyes. Paired with a refreshing cucumber and melon salad, it could well be the best Scotch egg that we’ve tasted. The batter was very light and the full flavour of the egg shone through.
My first course of marinated garden courgetttes, tomato, creamed feta and spiced tapioca crackling might sound like a mouthful, but it was a delectable mouthful indeed. All the ingredients worked in harmony and vegetables have rarely been this exciting.
Paul chose a roasted Longhorn beef fillet for his main course. Accompanied by a beef and spring vegetable pudding, chive potato purée, tomato fondue, young carrot and thyme jus, the meat was incredibly tender.
My hand dived king scallop and wild seabass was another faultless dish. Enlivened by sweetcorn, brown shrimp, courgette, spring onion bon bon and crab bisque, it was a highly accomplished plate.
Paul went for a spectacular vanilla, poppy seed and blood orange baked Alaska for dessert. It was flamed with Chase marmalade vodka and had a lovely creamy taste.
My dessert looked a little wonky but it tasted delicious. This chocolate and passion fruit mousse was made with 70% Valrhona chocolate and served with chocolate soil and a passion fruit sorbet. Needless to say, I didn’t leave any!
BREAKFAST AT ELLENBOROUGH PARK
The next day we had to leave bright and early so enjoyed room service with the obligatory full English for Paul (well not obligatory, but he has it every time) and smoked salmon with light and fluffy scrambled eggs for me.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT ELLENBOROUGH PARK
We were sad to have to dash off so quickly from this beautiful property, it really does make you feel like you are in a period drama but with all mod cons!
Ellenborough Park, Southam Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 3NJ