Find out where to eat and stay in Cheltenham with our insider’s guide …
Cheltenham has been a playground for racegoers and affluent pleasure-seekers – hence the name Cheltenham Spa – since the early 19th century, but Kathryn Lewis ditched the racecourse in favour of a dining course (or three), and found the going extremely good
Service stop 9am
No, you’re not mistaken. Yes, it’s only another 15 miles to Cheltenham. But we’re beginning to question whether it’s physically possible to pass Gloucester Services without popping in for a few “essentials” from the farm shop. Make a pit stop en route for a quality caffeine kick, pick up some last minute munch-worthy momentos on your way home, or do both (bet you do both).
Shopping counts as cardio, right? 11am
Lined with regal buildings and manicured gardens, the best way to take in the sights – and shops – of Cheltenham is on foot. Work up an appetite for the impending over indulgence with a stroll along Montpellier Walk where you’ll find a sophisticated selection of boutiques, art galleries and salons.
If you’re aiming to avoid a blow out, stay clear of Queen’s Square, and in particular Cheltenham Kitchener, as no die-hard foodie could emerge from this Aladdin’s cave of kitchenware without a new haul of gadgets, pans and porcelain.
Roll on lunch 1pm
Bags full and stomach empty, head to Regent Street’s latest edible addition Koj, for a nifty set lunch. The anythingbut- sushi menu features a small selection of tasty Japanese plates from MasterChef finalist Andrew Kojima including sukiyaki beef with carrot and daikon salad, and aubergine with spicy peanut miso.
For those dreaming of California rolls and bento boxes, KibouSushi a couple of doors down is a firm favourite with Cheltenham’s sashimi disciples. Kick things off with handmade rolls and monkfish tempura before wolfing down a steaming bowl of fragrant ramen.
Wheelie good 3pm
It’s never too early for an impromptu cheese course, so while on Regent Street it would be rude not to pop into The Cheeseworks for a few samples of the good stuff. Pick up a selection of fine local fromage for the road before jotting down essential tasting event dates in your diary. Gin and cheese pairing? Sign us up.
Fine dining theatrics 8pm
For a seriously good steak and great glass of red before an evening at the Everyman Theatre, The Ox on Cambray Place is perfectly positioned. If you’re in town for theatrics of the fine dining kind, there’s an impressive bill of restaurants to choose from. The nine course tasting menu at 3 AA rosette Lumiere is a showcase of culinary competence, while Prithvi is worth a trip if you can secure one of the fought-over tables. And of course, David Everitt-Matthias’ Le Champignon Sauvage is the town’s unmissable two Michelin-starred temple to gastronomy.
Saturday night social 10pm
If the night’s not over, saunter on to The Clarence Social on Clarence Parade (pictured top) and sink an old fashioned or two at its seriously sleek and sumptuously secretive underground cocktail lounge.
Luxury lodgings 11pm
When bed finally calls make sure it’s equally resplendent. Overlooking the perfectly primed Imperial Gardens, the lavish boudoirs at No 131 on The Promenade (pictured above) fit the bill nicely.
Boston brekkie 10am
Westcountry dwellers will know that there’s nothing quite like a Boston Tea Party brekkie, so after a luxuriously leisurely lie-in, a second breakfast of poached eggs and chorizo hash with a flat white on the side at the roomy Clarence Street cafe is the gourmand way to start the day.
Hunger hike 11am
Take a stroll from the centre to Bath Road – making time to take in some of the town’s architectural gems such as Cheltenham College as you go – where you’ll find a selection of indie shops to fuel the spending spree. Pick up local beers and preserves at The Natural Grocery Store before heading on to Roots & Fruits for seasonal produce and finishing up with a snoop around Cheltenham Market.
Just opposite, hungry hoarders will find Brew & Bake, a top-notch speciality coffee shop serving a seriously good selection of homemade sarnies and carb-tastic treats. Get the Moroccan lamb sausage roll and salted caramel pecan slice or face real mid-afternoon regret.
Masterclass mashup 3pm
Keen home cooks should book a break at the end of the month simply to secure a spot at one of East India Cafe’s exclusive themed classes. Mastering an impressive synthesis of Anglo/Indian fare in his seven course tasting menus, chef patron Litu Mohiuddin guides small groups through a three course meal on the last Sunday of every month.
Sunday munch 5pm
Every weekend should conclude with a cracking roast, and where else to open a good bottle of wine and coax a roastie-induced food coma than Cheltenham’s favourite Sunday spot? We’d recommend kicking off with the smoked tomato bloody mary or house gin before diving into the Gloucester beef or Kelmscott Farm pork collar at The White Spoon on Well Walk (pictured above).