Ellenborough Park (Cheltenham Spa),

Ellenborough Park (Cheltenham Spa), Cotswolds Review

There are 455 TripAdvisor reviews of Ellenborough Park. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single negative review, save the occasional complaint from the indefatigable insane person (one review complains of the lack of the day’s date on the menus…) By anyone’s standards, this is a safe bet. But it isn’t cheap (the low-end single rooms start at a heady price), and visitors desiring a modern, contemporary feel should probably look elsewhere.

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The place is a vast, turreted and buttressed castle-cum-palace. Dating from 1500, it has been the home of the Earl of Ellenborough (in the 1830s), a girls’ school and a hotel, which died and death, and was then restored in 2008. Bedrooms are classically English, full of curios and antiques, whilst avoiding the claustrophobic, dusty feel prevalent in similar outfits. The Great Hall retains the character it developed during Lord Ellenborough’s (the park’s namesake) term as governor of India, with an exotic and extravagant minstrels’ gallery.  The grand staircase has been brought to life by a startling mural – a primeval forest that recalls Arcadia. The restaurant boasts fine dining and the breakfast is fantastic.

Ellenborough Park Dining

The whole operation is owned by Mantis, a South African hotel group. Despite the global franchise, the majority of staff are local, attentive and affable. Ellensborough Park is an exceptional place, and made even more exceptional by retaining this sense whilst belonging to a chain. It remains, however, startlingly fresh. The contrast between the ancient status of the stately home, and the relative infancy of the hotel (it has only been open for six years, as of the beginning of 2014) can be jarring, and encourages the sense that the establishment lacks depth. However, I’m certain that as soon as there’s a little wear and tear, and the Cotswold stone has re-developed its sepia tones, Ellensborough Park will be as near perfection as one will find.

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