Cowley Manor

Gloucestershire, United Kingdom Book from Book from £195 per night

Contemporary country hotel and spa set in beautiful Cotswold parkland, perfect for some R&R
Roll up to this stately home with its 55 acres of parkland, lakes and river and you expect something grand or traditional inside. But walk in past the colourful Hunter wellies and you instantly pick up the contrast. Look up to prism crystals suspended from high ceilings, catch a glimpse of a rockstar-esque snooker room, then proceed to the seriously bright guest lounge. You could almost be in a grown-up common room were it not so stylish. Furnishings are modern designer but there's an easy ambiance we loved: newspapers rustle, contented guests gaze out to parkland. Expect funky interiors, cowhide seats and mock hunting trophies made from papier-mâché on the bar-room wall.

Nothing about this place feels fussy or pretensious; the atmosphere is pure relaxation and staff are wonderfully down to earth. Upstairs, the 30 contemporary bedrooms are delightfully comfortable, with enormous bathrooms and lots of treats, but it was the heated outdoor pool and excellent spa that really stole the show. And when we revisited in 2015, we arrived to whirling snow, twinkly fairy lights and a warm welcome - and were smitten anew.


  • Magnificent grounds in Cotswold countryside with sweeping views from the house, and lovely walks
  • Award-winning C.Side spa with treatments galore
  • Very friendly staff who go the extra mile
  • Great food in the panelled dining room and bar, and one of our best-ever hotel breakfasts
  • A feeling of real generosity. It's not a cheap place to stay, but you feel very spoilt


  • Those seeking a peaceful or romantic retreat may not appreciate children in the pool/lounge, but kids are not allowed past 17.30 in the pool
  • The library area is sometimes off limits
  • Service was very slow at the start of our meal, but it picked up as more staff came on duty

Best time to go

Any time of year: in winter for crackling fires; in spring and summer for enjoying the grounds at their best and lazing by the pools (your visit could coincide with seasonal events such as their outdoor summer movie screenings); in autumn to see the trees changing colours

Our top tips

For a change of scene, the Green Dragon across the grounds is a classic country pub with open fires, good grub and flagstone floors. Borrow a bike to cycle there if you don't fancy walking.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel & Spa
  • 30
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome (best in school holidays)
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Snooker Table
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Great Room


The 30 rooms range between Good, Better, Great, Exceptional and Best Rooms. They vary wildly: some have enormous bathrooms; some are split level, some open plan; some have access to or views across the garden. But all have a contemporary feel with bright soft furnishings against a backdrop of modern Scandinavian styling. Wooden furniture is mostly handmade; you can expect wall-mounted CD players, TVs and interesting minibars (with Dairy Milk and Jelly Beans). Bathrooms are spacious with rain shower heads, thick robes and big bottles of Green and Spring toiletries. Bigger rooms have a tub, too.

At the top of the pecking order is Best, a one-off with a 4-poster bed, very large bathroom with a tub for 2, and a balcony with the best views across the countryside. There's also a few bonus extras like a PS2. Exceptional Rooms have large bathrooms and a living area, plus some have their own terrace (we liked #18 which has views on both sides of room). Great Rooms have views across the lake, and a couple can be blocked off together to make a family room.

Better Rooms are in the stable block, and most have a split level set-up with a mezzanine level overlooking the central white gravel courtyard (#14 can take pets). Good Rooms are the smallest but benefit from being closest to the spa.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi


The dining room's high ceilings and ornate wood panelling give a lovely sense of grandeur to your meal. Expect crisp white tablecloths, long drop-down lampshades, and a lengthy wine menu.

Produce is locally sourced, mostly within a 10-mile radius. On our 2015 revisit, we adored the sea bream with swiss chard gratin and fennel, as well as a rare beef salad with celeriac remoulade, walnut croquettes and capers. Puddings are delicious and fun: my salted caramel baked Alaska came with popcorn; my sister's chocolate bananas had little 'Krispie' cakes on the side.

At breakfast, we were charmed by miniature milk bottles of fruit smoothie with stripy straws, and eggy bread with maple syrup. After loading up at the vast buffet (figs, prosciutto, apple Danish, homemade bread etc), we ordered poached eggs with bubble and squeak (very good), and a seriously fantastic kedgeree. We sat watching the sun rise over the parkland, and had super-smiley service from the waiter; it was a great way to start the day.

For lunch there's a selection of dishes ranging from cider roast ham, buck rabbit or venison sausages which lend a country theme, to Caesar salads or simple Cowley steak burgers. You may want to leave some room for their tempting afternoon tea service.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Bliss out in the C-Side spa. There's a steam room and sauna, and a series of treatment rooms offering massages, wraps and holistic treatments. Our Express Facial was wonderfully pampering, and the Cloud 9 experience (a mix of aromatherapy, Qi energy balancing, reflexology and acupressure) sounds divine
  • Swim: 2 heated pools are side by side (one outdoor). The larger indoor pool is set in a vast pillared building, which is very swanky with huge glass panels bringing in masses of daylight
  • Walk in the fabulous grounds or beyond into the beautiful Cotswold countryside; there are wellies to borrow
  • Play billiards, sip cocktails, laze in the lounge with the papers or curl up with a DVD in your room
  • Cheltenham is close; admire its Regency houses, shop in its gorgeous one-off boutiques, or time your visit to coincide with one of the festivals

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Yoga


Children are welcome and will enjoy the indoor and outdoor pools. Wellies can be provided to assist in romping around the extensive parklands, hot water bottles can be provided on request. The extra bed rate includes breakfast and dinner from the kids' menu.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms have big bathrooms, and the larger ones have bathtubs. Most of the Great Rooms are suitable for families and a couple of Exceptional Rooms are also recommended. There are interconnecting options available for larger families or for those with older children.


On request

Baby listening:

Monitors available on request

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Creche/Kid's Club:

No kids club or creche as such but organised activities and film screenings are arranged in the school holidays

Children's meals:

Children are welcome to dine at any time in the bar and lounge (but young children are not allowed into the restaurant). Kids' menus and special cutlery are provided. In the summer you can arrange a family picnic in the grounds along with picnic basket, mini-bar and giant beanbags.

Kids Activities on site:

  • The pools are heated (children can swim until 17.30)
  • 55 acres of parkland, woods and meadows, plus natural springs and a series of lakes
  • Outdoor Giant Chess, Connect 4 and Jenga
  • Plenty of indoor communal space
  • Lots of board games
  • DVD library

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Nearby adventure parks
  • Horse riding
  • Zoo
  • Bourton on the Water has a miniature village
  • In July Cheltenham has a Music and Fringe Festival, there's the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford

Families Should Know:

Children are welcome at C-Side Spa - which includes both pools - until 17:30 daily, but not after that. Kids should be supervised around the lake.


  • Airport: 1 hour
  • Hospital: 12 minutes
  • Shops: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests


Lovely setting. Staff all very pleasant and helpful individually but service appears slightly disconnected. Rooms good size with large well equipped bathrooms. Strange dining arrangements mean you can't have food in the bar and small children are running around the dining room. Excellent gym/ spa/ swimming facilities and the grounds are amazing. Nearly there, just needs a few tweaks.


The 60's decor in the main areas and the new dining room, open a month, weren't to my taste and the dining chairs were very uncomfortable.


We stayed one night in an Exceptional Room in the stable block, which was large and a cool design, but starting to show its age - it could do with some updating. But we didn't spend much time in our room. This hotel's key attractions are the grounds, which are stunning, and the spa, which is heavenly. The other thing that lets this hotel down somewhat is the food, which was, on the whole, fine, but certainly not a reason to make a trip there.

The service was excellent, and we greatly enjoyed our stay, but with a little work on the rooms plus some new talent in the kitchen, this could become a world class establishment.


Always a wonderful experience staying at Cowley Manor with its contemporary design, set within traditional spaces. The spa is fantastic with its heated outdoor (think cold bright winter days with water vapour rising from the pool) and indoor pools, and floor to ceiling glass panes bringing the outside in. The new chef this year is producing great starters and mains; better food than I can ever remember here. It's expensive but worth it as a place to relax and find some inner peace, especially during the weekdays before the weekend rush.


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Rates for Cowley Manor