A stay at Ellenborough Park
For horse-racing fans, the location of Ellenborough Park hotel and spa is hard to beat, being the closest hotel to Cheltenham Racecourse.
Just a few hundred metres from the front door of the grand 15th century Cotswolds building is Cheltenham racecourse itself and the hotel will even run you down its own private track to the course on race days in its fleet of Land Rovers, so you miss the crowds and have more time to study the form (or celebrate your wins).
Small wonder that during the four-day Cheltenham Festival itself, Ellenborough Park is one of the prime places to stay. However while the hotel does have a horsey theme – the suites are named after famous racehorses such as Arkle and Kauto Star – you don’t have to be an equine enthusiast to enjoy your stay here.
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Perched high on top of the hill overlooking Cheltenham and its famous racecourse, this luxury hotel and spa has a lovely country feel, an outdoor swimming pool for the summer months and 60 rooms – some in the main house and others in separate buildings around a courtyard – designed by Nina Campbell in the classic country house style.
Staff are incredibly attentive as you’d expect from a luxury country house hotel: the moment I drove up to the gates the affable Tim came out to valet-park my car, help me with my bags and find me a spot for afternoon tea.
Ellenborough Park afternoon tea
There was no shortage of people inside on a Saturday afternoon dispensing drinks and afternoon tea which was good as it was a popular choice and I could see why. Ellenborough Park believes in a fully traditional afternoon tea, with sandwiches, home-made cakes and a choice of four different type of scones, all served on a classic three-tiered cake stand.
Ellenborough Park dinner
After such a vast afternoon tea we were looking forward to dinner at Ellenborough Park – after a few hours pause! As there was quite a loud race-going crowd at the more information Horse Box Brasserie we were glad we had booked to eat that night at the more formal and quieter Restaurant at the other side of the building.
The food was good quality and served extremely promptly, with a tasty amuse-bouche board to start us off. The smoked salmon starter hadn’t inspired on the menu but was excellent, and it was the same with the goat’s cheese: it had sounded dull when listed on the menu as ‘Rosary goat’s, dill, Heritage beetroot, beetroot puree’ but when it arrived it was freshly baked and delicious.
A note of food theatre arrived with the Baked Alaska which took a while but was worth the wait, as the waiter set it on fire at the table and gave the meal a much-needed note of occasion and fun.
The bar was still packed and going strong when we walked back to our room, showing a hint of how the hotel would be during the Cheltenham Festival, but the size and layout of Ellenborough Park meant that the cheerful race-goers didn’t disturb the peace and quiet of the rest of the hotel.
Ellenborough Park hotel bedrooms
Our room was in a separate building to the main house which meant a chilly walk back after dinner, but did mean we got to see the racecourse grandstand impressively lit up at night.
The room was a decent size, with lovely views across the countryside, and had a huge bathroom, a massive free-standing bath which filled up so quickly I nearly flooded the place, and a separate closet for clothes (although you needed to be pretty tall to hang anything up there).
Fast and free wi-fi worked across the estate, the TV was smart and modern and the beds were extremely comfortable. For those looking for a grander stay, the Arkle Suite has its own private entrance, private dining room and four-poster bed.
Breakfast at Ellenborough Park
I woke early and headed straight into breakfast. There was a wide selection of cereals, pastries, ham, cheese and cooked options, and I had a very pleasant meal with the Sunday papers.
My stay preceded the arrival of the expanded spa facilities at Ellenborough Park, but I gather the outside pool is now heated and used throughout the year, which makes the hotel a great staycation destination. The hotel can also organise various country activities such as golf, shooting, riding and polo, and as a base for a day at the races, Ellenborough Park is certainly a hot favourite.
Hotel information and to book Ellenborough Park
Gloucestershire, GL52 3NJ
Tel: 01242 807191
If you like reviews of luxury hotels and spas near Cheltenham then you’ll love these reviews: Whatley Manor: a Cotswolds gem with added oxygen; Barnsley House hotel and spa: a wonderfully cosy Cotswolds hideaway; Calcot Manor luxury hotel: a family-friendly Cotswolds stay; Greenway hotel and spa, Cheltenham: a luxury hotel with the fizz factor