Review: A weekend retreat to Cheltenham’s luxury No 131
13:25 21 September 2015
Cheltenham is a charming Regency spa town in the heart of Gloucestershire’s rolling hills.
Renowned as the birthplace of English composer Gustav Holst, whose statue now stands in the town’s Imperial Gardens, it is famed nationally for its annual literature, jazz, science and food festivals, not to mention its racecourse which hosts hundreds of thousands of British racing enthusiasts every March for Gold Cup week.
Since 2013, it has also been home to No 131, an 11-bedroom hotel inside an elegant Grade II-listed stuccoed Georgian villa opposite the Imperial Gardens on Cheltenham’s tree-lined Promenade.
The hotel, accompanied by a restaurant and bar which spills out onto a terrace at the front of the building, was launched by husband and wife team Sam and Georgie Pearman.
The couple’s partner in the business is Julian Dunkerton, the multimillionaire co-founder of global fashion brand Superdry, which also started in Cheltenham.
Each of No 131’s rooms are individually decorated to the height of modern style, including classy artworks by British artists such as Nick Carter, David Hockney and Sir Peter Blake.
My room for the night - a spacious abode at the back of the hotel with high-walled ceilings and a bed of epic proportions – offered enough within its four walls to keep a guest busy for the evening.
Among the mod cons was an espresso machine, a wall-mounted flat screen TV with the full Sky entertainment package, an iPod dock and a mini bar filled to the brim with high-end booze and snacks.
Besides the bed, which was mammoth, the room’s highlight was the bathroom.
There was the choice of a deep, extravagant freestanding tub to fill with bubbles or a plate-size rainfall shower, as well as a full range of luxury bath and shower products and lotions.
As part of my visit, I was invited to a lunch at No 38 The Park, another charming boutique hotel down the road from No 131.
Both hotels are run by hospitality company The Lucky Onion, which is owned by the Pearmans and comprises five venues across the Cotswolds.
The Lucky Onion curates regular events at its establishments and welcomed top chef and cookbook author Sabrina Ghayour for Sunday lunch at No 38 The Park during my stay in Cheltenham.
Sabrina, an expert in Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine, treated guests to a mouthwatering feast across three courses, including lamb, fennel and apricot meatballs with yoghurt and tamarind drizzle, a spiced chicken and apricot tagine with couscous and a whole salmon with turmeric and black pepper, to name just a few of the dishes.
All of this was washed down with a ceaseless supply of Bloody Mary cocktails supplied by the Ketel One Vodka Kitchen.
Take it from me, a weekend trip to the Cotswolds as a guest of The Lucky Onion is a weekend well spent.