A spoiling restaurant with rooms in a beautifully restored Georgian villa, where classy antiques sit alongside fabulous contemporary art”
Opened to guests in late 2013, the building is classically elegant, with a white-columned façade overlooking the well-tended lawns of Cheltenham’s Imperial Gardens. Inside, walls are painted in soft greens and moody greys, providing a backdrop for a quirky collection of modern art and salvaged antiques. Bedrooms come with sumptuous throws and high-tech gadgets, luxurious bathrooms with rainfall showers or restored Victorian tubs; there’s also an inviting lounge with sofas, velvet armchairs and stacks of coffee-table books. By day, sunlight streams in through floor-to-ceiling windows; after dark, lamps and candles cast a soft glow, easing you into an evening of fine dining in the chandeliered restaurant. On the floor beneath is a cosier area, where you’ll find the Crazy Eights bar, a covered courtyard with an open fireplace, a patio, even a billiards room. As for the modern British food, it’s delicious stuff: inventive, locally sourced, organic, and seasonal wherever possible.
- Crazy Eights is a great cocktail bar - roofless in summer and cosy in winter - with great character and even better drinks
- Ideal for gourmands, with excellent food, and a dedicated wine and cheese room
- Some of the best hotel bathrooms we've seen - it’s definitely worth requesting one with a tub for an indulgent soak
- The central location is ideal for strolls and boutique-hopping in Regency Cheltenham, plus walking in the nearby Cotswolds
- Plenty of little treats - hot-water bottles with hand-knitted covers, robes and 100 Acres bath products, pre-breakfast pastry and newspaper delivery, hot chocolate and cookies at turndown, iPod docks, an Apple TV movie library
- Avoid rooms above the patio (particularly Very Good Room 4) at weekends - single glazing doesn’t cut out the noise
- The food is pricey, as are in-room drinks and snacks
- Small restaurant tables meant we were shuffling our plates and glasses around throughout the meal
- Some rooms have tubs by the bed, or no door to the bathroom - request when booking if you’d prefer a fully enclosed ensuite
- Rates include a continental breakfast only; you’ll have to pay extra for cooked options
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 11 rooms
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Apple TV movie library
The 11 rooms are characterised by comfortable beds (kingsize, super-kingsize or emperor), large windows, metal lampshades, antique radiators and a variety of fabric textures. Some are decorated in understated tones of grey and green, others have bold wallpaper and colourful tiles set against white panelled walls. Blankets across the beds add an additional splash of colour, and modern art is dotted around the walls. Spoiling bathrooms come with thick towels, plush bathrobes and natural toiletries by Bramley.
Room types differ by size and bathroom facilities. The 2 Cosy Rooms are the smallest and have showers only; Very Good Rooms are larger, with a bath, a shower or both; for garden views, request Room 5 or 7. The 2 Excellent Rooms are vast and worth the splurge if you can afford it. Room 6 also has garden views as well as a double-sided TV that you can watch from the bed or the wood-topped in-room tub, plus a separate bathroom with a walk-in shower; Room 3 has an enormous bathroom with a cast-iron tub, a slate-lined shower and a Victorian tiled floor.
We stayed in Very Good Room 4. We loved the blue and white geometric wallpaper, the turquoise accents, and the lovely bathroom with its refurbished roll-top tub, ample drench shower and pull-chain toilet. Our only disappointment was the noise from the patio area beneath, which was rather loud during our Friday-night stay.
When we revisited in 2018, we stayed in room 10 in the eves. Ceilings are much lower here than in the rest of the hotel, with a lesser sense of space, but we found it cosy and made most of the view over Cheltenham Ladies' College.
All rooms have a selection of posh but pricey drinks and snacks, as well as Nespresso machines, iPod docks and Loewe TVs with Sky and an Apple TV movie library. The nightly turndown service brings hot-water bottles, cookies and hot chocolate, and you can request a complimentary pre-breakfast delivery of juice, pastries and your choice of newspaper.
- Apple TV
- Central heating
- Extra beds
- Family friendly
- Ipod dock
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
Food in the restaurant - a sophisticated space centred around a long bar with bright turquoise stools - is locally sourced, organic, and seasonal wherever possible. The style is modern British with a twist and, although a little pricey, it’s very good indeed.
The lunch menu includes focaccia sandwiches, small plates (perhaps Wye Valley asparagus with poached egg, or watercress and potato soup) and salads (butternut squash with lime and chilli, mussels with samphire and tomato). There are also a few larger dishes - grilled salmon with blood orange and pine nuts, rump of lamb with cannellini beans and wild garlic - plus indulgent seafood platters.
The dinner selection focuses on steaks cooked in the wood-fired ‘Josper’ oven - choose your cut (there are around 20, including Ruby Red Devon and Welsh Wagyu), your sauce (everything from classic Bearnaise to an exotic Argentinian Chimichuri) and your sides. There are also plenty of starters and seasonal mains, including a few vegetarian dishes. We opted for tuna tartare and crab gratin, followed by hake with clams, a rump steak with peppercorn sauce, and delicious carrots with cumin and dill butter. We topped it off with a tasty treacle tart with ice cream: delicious.
The continental breakfast (included in the rates) is similarly good, with a generous offering of cereals, fruit, pastries and cheeses, plus a ham - what a treat! Cooked breakfasts, including the full English, are available for an additional cost.
The restaurant’s wine list showcases small, international producers chosen by executive sommelier Lionel Periner, formerly of La Trompette in London. There’s also a selection of local beers and ciders, and the clubby Crazy Eights bar has fantastic cocktails, as well as bar food, a patio for alfresco drinking and dining, and a counter where you can pull up a stool and sample Neal’s Yard cheeses from the dedicated wine and cheese room.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Family friendly
- Organic produce
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Wine and cheese room
- Explore Cheltenham. A spa town since 1716, it’s packed with colonnaded terraces and grand gardens. Head to the Pittville Pump Rooms to sample the medicinal waters for yourself
- If you prefer therapy of the retail kind, browse the boutiques in the classy Montpellier area, just a short stroll away
- Cheltenham is renowned for its festivals. Come in April/May for the Jazz Festival (performances from the likes of Jools Holland, Jamie Cullum and Madeleine Peyroux), June for the Science Festival (free lectures and hands-on activities), July for the Music Festival (classical concerts) and October for the Literary Festival (past guests include Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith and Stephen Fry)
- Or don your glad rags and spend a day at the races. Cheltenham Racecourse holds regular meetings, kicking off with Cheltenham Festival and its famous Gold Cup in March
- Head to the Cotswolds for country walks and pretty honey-coloured villages. Bibury, Lower Slaughter and Bourton-on-the-Water (all within a 45-minute drive) are particularly lovely
- Visit the Cotswold Water Park (half an hour’s drive) for bird-watching, cycling, fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing and waterskiing
- Back at No 131, play billiards in the bar, or relax with a glossy book in the lounge
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse racing
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
- Wine tasting
Children of all ages are welcome, though we’d say this is a sophisticated hotel that’s better suited to couples. Baby cots and rollaway beds can be added to Very Good and Excellent Rooms.
Babies (0-1 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Staff can recommend a babysitting agency.
Children's meals available on request.
No 131 is located in the heart of Cheltenham, close to shops, parks and the famous Pittville Pump Room. It’s an hour by road from Bristol or Birmingham, and 2 hours from London.
Bristol (87km away) is the closest airport, with flights from elsewhere in the UK and Europe. Birmingham International (92km away) is also close. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll most likely fly into London Heathrow (156km away). Click on the links below for further information.
From the Airport
It’s just over an hour’s drive from Bristol and Birmingham airports, and 2 hours from London Heathrow; the hotel can arrange transfers on request. You can also take the train (see below).
Cheltenham Spa train station is 5 minutes from the hotel by taxi and has regular links with elsewhere in the UK, including London Paddington, Bristol and Birmingham.
If you’re travelling by train from Bristol airport, you’ll first need to take a bus to Bristol Temple Meads station (these run at regular intervals throughout the day). If you’re coming from Birmingham airport, there’s a train from the terminal to Birmingham New Street station, where you can change onto a direct service to Cheltenham. From London Heathrow you can catch the Heathrow Express service to London Paddington.
Cheltenham is just off the M5, and you’ll need a car if you want to explore the nearby Cotswolds - see our car rental recommendations. Metered parking is available in front of No 131, and staff can lend you free permits for the road behind.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to the UK and getting around
- Bristol 87.0 km BRS
- Birmingham International 92.0 km BHX
- Beach 50.0 km
- Shops 0.1 km
- Restaurant 0.1 km