The Gloucestershire town of Cheltenham delights with its pretty Regency buildings, well maintained natural spaces, great selection of top-quality restaurants and exciting events that take place on the outskirts at Cheltenham Racecourse, among many other pleasures.
Expertly blending a modern type of hotel visit with super stylish décor within its classic surroundings, The George hotel is an upmarket bed and breakfast in the centre of the town, close to plenty of shops, bars and restaurants, but tucked away on a quiet side street.
The 46-bedroom design-led hotel offers a simple style of visit for its guests without letting them down on luxury in any way. As the hotel’s website states: ‘When it comes to the rooms, we focussed on the raw ingredients and cut out the fluff.’ And by this they mean travellers can expect to be self-sufficient during their stay with a range of extra items – food and non-perishables – available at The Pantry (think snacks, alcoholic drinks, toiletries, toothbrushes and the like) as well as a self-check-in and check-out option, a key to the main door and even a button to call a taxi. Having said this, there are staff members on reception and ready to wait on you at breakfast so it’s not a completely independent experience, if you require a human connection.
The hotel itself sits within five pretty Grade II listed Regency townhouses on a quiet street off the main road in the centre of the large town. Expect to find historical touches that are in keeping with the age such as wood panelling, ornate coving, sweeping staircases and large sash windows, charmingly combined with those modern touches including industrial design, contemporary style furnishings and bold artworks.
Named ‘egdy’, ‘urban’, ‘cool’ and ‘culture’, the upmarket rooms at The George Hotel embody the above combination of old and new expertly. Large flat screen televisions and a very welcome air conditioning unit (during my summer visit) sit atop wood panelled walls, while low trendy armchairs sit in front of large floor to ceiling sash windows, which let plenty of natural light into the room while allowing you to gaze at the tall trees on the street from the top floor. A huge, oh-so comfortable bed and cosy bedding provided a great night’s sleep, aided by some heavy, dark curtains, while a spacious and bright industrial-style bathroom with a walk-in shower, two sinks and trendy blue subway tiles provided plenty of space to freshen up.
The stylish room is decorated in a cosy deep blue and grey, with black and white framed photos resting against a shelf at the back of the bed. It’s very trendy and smart décor and had everything I needed for a comfortable stay including some old Penguin books to leaf though and sumptuous Sprekenhus hair and body care products.
The Diner is The George’s breakfast haunt, located in the basement, and the modern décor continues here with white subway tiles, dark grey tiled flooring, deep blue booths, wood tables, plants galore and black and white photos in black frames. Service was quick when I went down, but I had been informed of quieter times during check-in, so I made the most of that. There were a range of items to choose from, hot and cold – all the usual suspects – and I was delighted to be presented with a full-sized pain au chocolat (no mini pastries here) before I swiftly received my boiled eggs and toast.
The George only serves breakfast and snacks, so it has paired up with local foodie pub The Tavern to offer dinner to its guests. And to my delight, on the weekend I was visiting, The Tavern was operating a takeover at No. 131 – a Georgian hotel a short walk from The George. I really lucked out with this evening as the setting for dinner was utterly beautiful.
My guest and I had actually been staying in a different hotel in the town before we checked into The George and had walked past giving longing looks to outdoor set up at No. 131, but the queues had put us off attempting to visit (we later found out they were queueing for a separate bar). Little did we know that we were already booked in to dine there the very next evening – what a stroke of luck!
The setting here was lovely; marquees made the most of the available space between the hotel and pavement and was adorned as an upmarket English country garden setting with flowers and plants everywhere and lights and heaters, if needed. Well designed with plenty of tables, a bar and music humming through, it was blissful to sit there after a hot summer’s day and enjoy some leisurely drinking and dining.
To start, I tucked into a chorizo scotch egg which was lovely, especially when accompanied with a bit of whipped feta from my dining partner’s heritage tomato salad starter. My main course was a sirloin steak with Tavern slaw, béarnaise sauce and garlic and parmesan fries. I had asked for my steak medium-well done and got medium-rare, but it was seared on the outside and a lovely piece of meat, so not the end of the world for me. The slaw was nice, and the fries were crispy and tasty, while the service was quick, and the plates were away cleared quickly.
We chose to wait before ordering dessert as we were getting full, and I eventually went for a hot chocolate pudding with peanut butter and vanilla ice cream. It was such a decadent, sweet, rich and filling dessert, I couldn’t finish it even after a break, but it was a delectable end to the meal – you certainly don’t go hungry here!
Though The George is inherently a bed and breakfast, it has paired up with a selection of local establishments to ensure that guests aren’t left wanting during their stay. In addition to pairing with The Tavern, those in need of a little fitness kick can head to Cheltenham Ladies College for a swim and gym session.
In the town, visitors will find the Edwardian live performance venue at Cheltenham Town Hall, Sandford Parks Lido, pretty natural spaces including Montpellier Gardens and Pittville Park, which houses the Pittville Pump Room and a range of activities, walks and open spaces for the whole family, and of course, the famed Cheltenham Racecourse, which houses the four-day Cheltenham Festival and Gold Cup in March every year. There are plenty of opportunities for some retail therapy and there are around 30 festivals that take place in and around the town each year, from food and music to science and cricket festivals.
In a nutshell
A stylish hotel in the centre of Cheltenham, The George ensures its guests enjoy an independent style of stay within the town if they wish, while offering a range of bonus additions to make sure any visitor is well taken care of, with all the little luxuries they may desire to hand.
See snippets of my travels on Instagram @tashheard_food_travel
Address: St George’s Rd, Cheltenham GL50 3DZ
Tel: 01242 650675