No 131 Cheltenham Review
Any excuse for a weekend away and I’m there, for the last few days it has been raining non-stop in Manchester, so when the No 131 hotel contacted me to venture to Cheltenham to do a stay and review how could I possibly say no. It was a good enough excuse to take the new Peugeot 308 I was test-driving on a mini road trip.
The No 131, which opened in Cheltenham back in December, is one of the most recent openings from The Lucky Onion, owned by husband and wife team Sam and Georgina Pearman. Situated in Cheltenham, a Regency Spa town, in the heart of the Cotswolds, it is a 3 hours drive by car from Manchester (depending on traffic) or 2 hours by train.
The hotel venue or rather boutique B&B, over looking the Imperial Gardens on the elegant promenade, was my new home from home well at least for the next 24 hours. It is hard to believe the classic Georgian Grade II* villa was left derelict for seven years, before landing in the creative hands of the Pearson’s who beautifully restored it to perfection, housing 11 individually bespoke decorated rooms, its own restaurant and bar called Crazy Eights split over two floors.
On arrival we were greeted with a warm welcome by the hotel staff, as I stepped into the reception I was immediately impressed by the vast attention to detail that when into the decoration of building, with a mix of contemporary pieces and finds sourced by the Pearson’s from antique shops, markets, auctions and reclamation yards throughout the UK and Europe, it was hard not to instantly fall in love with the place. The venue felt homely and although it was in the heart of Cheltenham the venue had a strong London feel about it, it is evident why the No 131 is a serious contender in the world of luxury accommodation.
The hotel staff escorted us to our room, where we were led through the drawing room and onto the first floor, Room No.3. Which was surprisingly extremely spacious, with high ceilings, antique radiators, muted tones, comfy sofa and large rustic coffee table with an array of classic books and magazines. The interior of the room kept in theme with the Georgian shell, elegant and stylish but sported a modern twist, with industrial lighting and state of the art sonons speakers.
Each room throughout the hotel has artworks by British artists like Henry Hudson, Alexander Massouras, the photographer Richard Braine- to name a few. Our room was beautiful laid out with a large King Size bed draped in Egyptian cotton by Three Thieving Magpies, and woollen covers, however it was the well thoughtful finishing touches such as the hot water bottles covered in English hand knitted wool, Nespresso machines, iPod docking station, Loewe TV, Apple TV which came with a full library of movies and a mini bar filled to the brim with delicious snacks, which really made the room feel special and without a doubt added a personal feel to the stay.
The bathroom was also stocked to the brim with toiletries by 100 Acres essential oils, and I was blown away by the sight of the free standing large Rogeat Lyon bath tub which was big enough for two people, and my excitement for the his and hers sinks was short lived by the sight of the large natural slate walk-in twin showers with the biggest monsoon heads I have ever seen in my life.
singing and dancing freshening up with a power shower, we headed down to the hotel restaurant for our inclusive three-course dinner.
The restaurant and bar, occupies two floors. On the lower ground floor there is a open outdoor courtyard with a beautiful open fireplace, two private dining rooms which seats 14 people, an orangery bar with shelves staked high with premium liquor and games room equipped with a large pool table. Whilst the downstairs was bubbling with guest on the upper ground floor there was a more formal and elegant dining atmosphere, the quirky artwork continued through this space with a large bight blue 6ft neon cross with the text “sin will find you out” which over looked the large bar. Spoilt for choice we decided to dine in the main restaurant area, which had a more relaxing and sociable atmosphere.
The menu is small and follows a clear format; Starters, Mains, Seafood Platters, Steaks and Sides. The central focus of the menu is Steaks of magnificent quality and proportion. I was torn between the opting for the seafood platter after eyeing up the table of two women across from us who were happily indulging into a platter of Oysters, Prawns, Winkles, clams, lobsters and Mussels. However I decided to opted for the special of the day, lobster and crab cocktail, which was expertly presented and for the mains I was seduced and almost brought to tears by the 10oz Sirloin welsh wagyu (aged 28days) steak which the waiter recommended having with a glass of 1997, Rioja Crianza. The beef dripping chips was the best I have ever tasted and could have happily sat and ate all night.
I turned to the Mr to ask him if I could try a little of his 12oz Ribeye steak only to find he had already demolished it off and was sat happily munching through his duck fat fries. I decided to finish off the meal with a traditional lemon sorbet. As I didn’t feel I had any more room for the hot chocolate dessert pudding I was eyeing up earlier.
After dinner and feeling rather stuffed we decided to return to our suite, where we found a flask of hot milk, giant cookies, two large mugs with rich chocolates to melt into the milk neatly lined up on the coffee table. Perfect for a night in of movies supplied by the hotel.
So what’s my verdict on the No.131?
It is hard for me to fault anything about the up-market home from home establishment, even though at the beginning after reading upon information about the hotel I admit I had slight reservation that it may be a little ‘snooty’, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. All of the hotel staff was extremely friendly and helpful. The only downside was not having booked a few more days to explore the hotel as I would have loved to sampled some of the Crazy 8 signature cocktails some of the other guest had highly recommended during my stay. Would I stay again, without a doubt Yes. Hats off to the Pearman’s as they have done an excellent job in creating the perfect luxurious escape.