A Postcard from… Ellenborough Park
Just a handful of miles outside Cheltenham and set in 90 acres of lush Cotswolds parkland sits the glorious Ellenborough Park: a fifteenth-century manor bursting with rich history. The scene is set from the moment guests turn into the driveway – a snaking road which dramatically circles the building, elegantly standing as the centre–piece in all its glory. The building is stunning, boasting English heritage at its finest with two towers, stained-glass windows and turrets, and its surrounded by wild flower meadows, manicured lawns and countryside views that stretch magnificently to the famous Cheltenham racecourse – less than a 10 minute walk away.
Inside, we are greeted by original stone flags and wooden beams, with a floor to ceiling glass wall separating the hotel reception entrance from a vast Great Hall with the most amazing open stone fireplace. I immediately pictured how wonderful it must be here at Christmas time, sitting in the hall in front of the roaring fire with a glass of red! I was shown to my room by the porter, Johnathon, who has worked at Ellenborough for many years and whose knowledge of the hotel and its history was remarkable.
Once unpacked, our stay started with a tour of the hotel and grounds – poking our heads into some of the 61 rooms all beautifully designed by Nina Campbell: think quintessentially English flowered wallpaper and fabrics. We started at The Mews (which housed at one point a girls boarding school) where self-contained and dog-friendly rooms are fronted by a croquet lawn, each with its own front door, and some offering private patios and double levels. Close by, The Ellenborough Gate is more of a secret rose and lavender garden – an area that houses a number of double-level rooms (two with private gardens!). Next we headed to The Woodlands, 25 bedrooms which border the heated outdoor swimming pool. Ground floor rooms have their own private patios so guests really can roll out of bed and head straight to the pool. Lastly to the main building, and its stunning suites and large rooms, including tower rooms with views across to the racecourse (binoculars included!). We finished the tour with a peek inside the Indian-themed spa and tried to resist the dedicated cosy relaxation room that draws you in…
Quick change into swimming costumes and we managed to squeeze in a few lengths in the outdoor pool: delightful after months and months of not being able to go swimming. And then to the evening – cocktails and alfresco dinner on the lawn in the new outdoor ‘carriages’, great favourites among guests this summer and fittingly reflecting the equestrian influence of neighbouring Cheltenham… romantic and magical especially when lit up at night.
Before checking out the next morning, we had breakfast alfresco under the new pergola (freshly planted with Taittinger vines and likely to be a glorious shaded dining area within a handful of years) before taking a short walk through the meadows and down to the Cheltenham racecourse. Evidence of the rich dog-loving vibe at the hotel, almost every guest we passed had brought their furry friends away for the weekend. With dog-friendly rooms, beautiful outdoor seating areas and access to countless country walks, it’s the perfect countryside Cotswold break for them too. I already can’t wait to be back at Ellenborough Park, and I’ll be sure to bring my pooch next time!