The Cotswolds is known for both its postcard-perfect gardens and its spa retreats – but rarely are they seen in combination. However, the newly unveiled Spa Garden Retreat at the area’s only 5-star hotel, Ellenborough Park, is changing that.
A secret hideaway within the 15th-century manor house’s walled garden, the luxury new facilities build on the existing state-of-the-art spa, which includes both indoor and outdoor facilities. But unlike most gardens, this one can be enjoyed whatever the weather – meaning that a dip in the jacuzzi can be accompanied with Pimm’s in the summer, mulled wine under the stars in the winter, or a cup of tea under the retractable roof on rainy days. If only all gardens looked like this…
Ellenborough Park Hotel is best known for its unrivalled location overlooking the Cheltenham Racecourse, with a multi-year waiting list for rooms during the famous Gold Cup horse race that takes place every March.
Our tip is to avoid the crowds and book a visit in the straddling seasons: in the winter months, cosy up by a roaring log fire with afternoon tea or don a pair of Dubarry boots (complimentary for guests to borrow) and head out on a long country walk before returning for a hearty roast lunch in the wood-panelled restaurant. Or come summer, experience nearby town Cheltenham Spa’s buzzing cultural scene with its Music and Literature Festivals that host world-famous artists in stunning Regency venues.
With indoor treatment rooms, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, plus an outdoor heated pool and even a dedicated Paw Spa for pampered pooches, the new Spa Garden Retreat really is the jewel in the crown of a multitude of spa facilities available at the hotel.
What sets this apart is its secluded setting in a flower-filled walled garden, making it perfect for a romantic escape or to indulge as a group of girlfriends.
To top off the experience, pair a visit to the Spa Garden with a treatment – if the 55-minute De-stress Body Ritual isn’t enough to melt away any tension, floating into the private jacuzzi afterwards with on-demand champagne and grazing boards should sort it.
Rooms at Ellenborough Park have a distinct country house hideaway feel and are befitting of a spa escape – think inviting four-poster beds with crisp white linens, pretty patterned wallpaper, huge marble bathrooms with freestanding bathtubs, and even private gardens for some.
Even a modestly named ‘Classic Room’ is substantially larger than my entire London flat – and has the added benefit of having nothing but chirping birds to wake me up in the morning instead of the usual rush hour traffic. Bliss.
Although such serenity lends itself to sleeping in, breakfast is worth getting up for – a divine spread of fresh fruit and pastries alongside made-to-order classics done properly – think local eggs and bacon and thick-cut smoked salmon on sourdough toast.
Dinner is served either in the laid-back Horse Box Brasserie or the grand wood-panelled Restaurant, where stained-glass windows overlook the racecourse further afield. Despite the grandeur of the setting, both have an unpretentious feel, serving good British grub done well – think fish and chips and steaks alongside delicate fish dishes. Desserts are a particular highlight: Nutella lovers should save room for the Paris Brest, a gooey, chocolatey, nutty delight that will leave you thankful for the ability to flop into a four-poster bed moments after finishing.
Ellenborough Park Hotel is located approximately 15 minutes from Cheltenham town centre and 20 minutes from Cheltenham Spa station, a 2-hour train journey from London Paddington. There is ample car parking available at the hotel, and 6 EV charging ports.
How to book
Spa Garden Retreat Packages start from £140 per person, please visit the Spa Garden Retreat website for more information here. Nightly rates at Ellenborough Park start from £299 inclusive of VAT and breakfast based on a Traditional Bedroom sleeping two people.
words by Rosie Sargeant