The lowdown: Cowley Manor is part of The Curious Group, an exclusive boutique chain offering hotels in Paris, Amsterdam and the UK. We sneaked out of the city for a mid-week jaunt at their Cotswolds venue, and enjoyed a blissful break full of country air, good service, and even better food. Perfect poised in the South West, Cowley Manor sits just outside of Cheltenham, about two hours from London. This converted country house dazzles from near and afar with its award-winning gardens, not to mention its welcoming interior and statement architecture. Boasting a luxurious spa, fine dining restaurant and a very warm welcome, there was plenty to look forward to during the short taxi ride from the town centre to the venue.
The rooms: Cowley Manor rates their rooms as ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘great’, ‘exceptional’, and one outstanding ‘best’ room, but we reckon they’re all pretty amazing. Our spacious suite contained a walk in shower and bath that you could swim in, and cute extras like full size toiletries and lollipops to munch on while you’re enjoying a DVD from the hotel’s extensive library, brought direct to your room. Our only complaint? Cowley Manor’s wifi doesn’t stretch far from reception, but then again, when you’re staying somewhere as beautiful as here, it’s probably best to step away from your inbox.
Dining: Cowley Manor boasts a perfectly formed bar and restaurant menu, both of which we sampled during our stay. The bar menu doesn’t put a foot wrong with well cooked classics like mac ‘n’ cheese, burgers and sandwiches, but the restaurant is really something to write home about. We started our dinner with pan-seared scallops teamed with pork belly, squash puree and spiced raisin sauce. Moving on to deliciously rich truffle mash with girolles, the crowning glory of our main dish was a cooked-to-perfection steak (a word of warning – bring your appetite as our tender fillet was huge!) Accompanied by a well executed range of cocktails and soft drinks, our pre-dinner beverages were made with Tattinger, no less.
What to do: Nearby Cheltenham is a classically pretty spa town with plenty to offer, but we preferred to spend our stay within Cowley Manor’s spacious grounds. Borrow Hunter wellies for a stomp around the acres, or just relax in the hotel’s C-side spa, featuring outdoor and indoor pools, luxurious loungers and an up-to-date gym. And our favourite discovery had to be the hotel’s very own Village Shop – forget your standard local store fare though, this glamorous outlet stocks designer shoes and clothes, plus a range of cute cards and trinkets, as well as the hotel’s delectable toiletry range.
The details: Rooms at Cowley Manor are from £195 a night. Visit www.cowleymanor.com or call 01242 870900 for more information.