Blending Victorian charm with Romanesque features in the heart of the Regency town of Cheltenham, the Queens Hotel (part of the MGallery Hotel Collection group) has been delighting visitors since 1838. From the imposing façade to the elegant interiors to the culinary offerings, this four-star establishment aims to impress.
One of the first purpose-built hotels in Europe, Queens Hotel, named in honour of Queen Victoria whose coronation year coincided the hotel’s opening, has welcomed notable guests including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edward Elgar as well as serving as a military hospital and social refuge for women during WWI. The grade II English Heritage building holds many historic features such as wallpaper designed by Augustus Pugin, designer of the Palace of Westminster, and in recent times has been restored to its former neoclassical glory.
Its central location tucked between two parks and its grand structure certainly gives first-time visitors a good initial impression, and upon entry, the warm welcome continues. Friendly reception staff check you in and, if available, can give you a quick show-around of public amenities which consist of Victoria’s restaurant, The Gold Cup Bar and Duke’s Tea Room, with Queens Summer Garden outside to provide the perfect spot for al fresco dining and drinking on warmer days. Expect smart, elegant interiors throughout with a different décor running through each public space.
My classic-styled room on the top floor was spacious with everything I could need for a comfortable stay, including a welcome bottle of prosecco, which is always appreciated! The large bed offered a cosy night’s sleep and I leafed through the classic books and collections of poems to hand instead of watching any TV, though there was a big screen if I was so inclined.
The room was simply decorated in neutral tones and held a small table and armchairs, dressing table, and cabinet with small fridge, while a built-in wardrobe provided some space to hang clothes. A chest of drawers to store some more of my clothes would have come in handy – there was plenty of space for one – while bathrobes, full length mirror and a dressing table mirror with a socket close by, an espresso machine, air con and blackout curtains certainly did come in handy. The compact shower room housed a spacious shower, The White Company toiletries, and a softly-lit mirror, which always provides the ideal spot for glamming up for dinner and drinks.
Food and drink
As mentioned, there are a few places in the hotel to get dressed up for, and Victoria’s was the place that welcomed my guest and I for an evening of hearty food with wine flowing, too. The menu showcases a range of British favourites, with ingredients sourced locally and the restaurant is split into two areas which both provide a stylish setting with large windows to enjoy dinner. I was in the extension part, which was blessed with large plants, aubergine walls and very comfortable seating with views to the garden.
After some bread and a peruse of the menu, our starters arrived and we tucked into gin and citrus-cured salmon with whipped goat curd, caperberries and buckwheat blinis (not my favourite course) as well as pork pie with Gloucestershire Old Spot, piccalilli and mustard trio. Next up was fillet of Beef Wellington for two with gratin potatoes, roasted roots and a red wine jus for both of us. The beef was lean and delicious, the creamy, garlicky gratin was a delight, and a side of crispy cauliflower was a nice addition, though I don’t think I really needed that much food with all the vegetables I already had on my plate.
Both courses were rather heavy for summertime dining, and though I was rather full – expect good portions here – I took a short break before ordering dessert. I was glad I made the effort though (it’s a tough job) as the dessert turned out to be my favourite course. A white chocolate bomb was filled with honeycomb ice cream, whipped cream and caramel popcorn pieces and came with a warm salted caramel sauce to pour over. It contained all the right textures and amount of sweetness you would want from a dessert and provided that much-loved moment of being able to crack the chocolate dome with a spoon.
The Gold Cup Bar is a great little place to head to for a pre or post dinner drink with the décor providing a fine example of what a hotel of this age should look like. The low-lit space showcased an ornate dark wood bar, low tables, a sofa and comfy chairs on which to relax on while sipping a cocktail and taking in the tones of the jazzy music drifting through the speakers. It was a relaxing and welcoming space, but the service was pretty slow at times during our visit.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant and was operated by bookings. Once at a table we would choose food and drinks via a checklist and wait for it to be served. The first day was fine, but the second was painfully slow, waiting around half an hour after being seated for coffee and another half an hour for any food. I actually felt sorry for some of the servers as they were repeatedly apologising and were trying their very best in what was clearly a busy service and I can only assume they were short-staffed on the day. Food consisted of the usual suspects and I tucked into a pleasing plate of vegetarian sausages, fried egg, beans and hash browns.
For breakfast on the second day, I was seated in the main building section of the restaurant which is blessed with high ceilings, tall arched windows, pale blue walls and artwork that includes facts about the hotel, which I thought was a great touch.
Being in the centre of Cheltenham offered the perfect place to explore and pop back as and when needed and, to my utter delight, a food and drink festival was being set up on our first day there, just two minutes away from the hotel. Cheltenham prides itself on hosting a range of festivals throughout the year, and I was thrilled that my stay coincided with this particular event, especially as it was the first outdoor event I had attended since Covid. In addition to food and drink stalls, there were cookery demonstrations and live music – the ideal way to spend an afternoon, in my opinion!
In addition to the range of festivals, there is, of course, the horse racing at the famous ground to attend, if that is your cup of tea. I headed there for the November meeting a few years ago and enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining day. There are plenty of shops to head to as well if retail therapy is a must for you, and when you need some fresh air and exercise, Pittville Park offers plenty of walks in nature as well as activities for the whole family.
In a nutshell
The central location and impressive structure are certain highlights of Queens Hotel, while inside, the immaculate public spaces tell a characterful story of the rich history that the hotel embodies, from the internal staircase to the artwork to the classic décor.
See snippets of my travels on Instagram @tashheard_food_travel
Address: The, Promenade, Cheltenham GL50 1NN
Tel: +44(0)1242 514754