We love a hotel that manages to be stylish, sleek and spoiling, while still being unpretentious and friendly. This elegant Georgian townhouse in the centre of charming spa town Cheltenham is exactly that: a welcoming bolthole of unobtrusive luxury. That’s not to say it’s not grand; by both classical and contemporary standards there has been a rigorous investment of finely tuned style and beauty.
From the Eames chairs and Matthew Hilton sofas to the technological wizardry of the in-room iPods and iPad wine list, everything about Malmaison Cheltenham resounds with 21st-century grandeur. It’s an ideal retreat for a romantic weekend or spa break with friends.
Rooms: There are 61 rooms spread between the cosy and carpeted original Villa and the ultra-modern, almost Scandinavian extension, known as the Crescent. Despite the differences in design, all of the rooms are suitably slick and come with a range of decadent details: monsoon showers, bathrobes, Aromatherapy Associates toiletries, Nespresso coffee machines and complimentary minibars packed with beer, chocolate and soft drinks. We particularly enjoyed the impressive technology (flatscreen TVs, downloadable films and music, and iPod Touches loaded with useful information), once we got our heads around it.
There are 5 different roomtypes available, ranging from the Regular Room to the outstanding Penthouse, which benefits from its own roof terrace and an abundance of space. We loved the Feature Rooms (the penultimate roomtype) for their open-plan bedrooms-cum-bathrooms and ultra-comfy super-kingsize beds. The Deluxe Rooms are also rather spacious and many have small balconies or bay windows.
Food: In keeping with the rest of the hotel, the food in the bistro-style restaurant is beautifully executed, with minimal fuss or pretence. You can sit in the buzzy dining room, a quieter nook in the Garden Room, or a sunny spot in the courtyard (weather allowing) while your dinner of British and European classics (with locally sourced ingredients) is prepared in the open white-tiled kitchen. We plumped for pear and Roquefort salad and tuna Niçoise, followed by sea bass with fennel and citrus, and rump steak with béarnaise sauce – all simple, but done to perfection. If you don’t feel like having dinner at the hotel, Cheltenham has a number of eateries ranging from the ubiquitous chains to special independent options such as the illustrious and widely acclaimed Le Champignon Sauvage.
Breakfast wasn’t quite as triumphant, but despite being a little on the small side, the cooked options (Eggs Benedict, Full English, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon) were very tasty. If this doesn’t quite fill you up you can also pile up your plate from the cold buffet.
Top Tip: Combine a visit with a trip to the small spa; it’s a great place to unwind and guests get free use of the pool and tennis courts at nearby Cheltenham Ladies’ College
Customer review: “Beautiful hotel just on the edge of the shopping area of Cheltenham, fantastic location. Feature Room was gorgeous and quiet, social areas were warm and friendly, open fire a treat!”
Anthony, United Kingdom (03.01.14)
i-escape gift: a free room upgrade on arrival (subject to availability)