This summer in Europe has been amazing. In England, it was one of the best in the past decade. Instead of fleeing to the normal summer islands for a bit of sun, I decided to stay in the country and hide in the countryside.

Realizing I have never really explored the English countryside, I picked a place I’ve never been. Without a clue how it looks like and how to get there, I picked Ellenborough Park. My previous experience at Coworth Park gave me a very positive image of how beautiful and calming Cotswold is, so I knew it would be beautiful and peaceful. 

After a little research and lots of questions, my friend and I arrived at Ellenborough Park, roughly 3 hours after jumping on a train from London Paddington. As we drove on, we saw miles and miles of green, English cottages and this very historical manor house in the middle of nowhere, well, not nowhere, Cheltenham in Gloucestershire to be specific.

This historical house once belonged to a tenant farmer called Thomas Goodman when he discovered a slightly elevated spot and decided to build his house here. Block by block, transported by horse and cart, the building began in 1485 with the Great Hall. Described as a ‘pretty manor place’ in 1533 by the King’s Antiquary and ‘one of the greatest curiosities in the country’ in 1796 by Samuel Rudder, Ellenborough Park has held a revered position in the county’s archives for more than 500 years.

As you walk in, the oak beams, stone fireplaces, and intricate stained glass that adorn the hotel took you back in time. In 1833, the 1st Earl of Ellenborough and former Governor General of India purchased the estate as his home, and that’s how this fine property gained its current name. Many years and owners stayed and gone, with a rich history of very interesting residents, it went from home to school, to hotels, Cheltenham‘s modern-day Ellenborough Park is what we see now.  The refurbishment took a few years, and the hotel gained a new front entrance in the form of the original door from 1485. The brasserie transformed into our 5-star country pub, The Horse Box, and The Beaufort received a complete makeover becoming The Restaurant at Ellenborough Park. A new reception area was also created alongside our cocktail bar and lounge; The Atrium.

We were very lucky to have been upgraded to a suite with a gorgeous view and spacious room. The original structure, especially the windows of the room was mesmerizing. Oftentimes I found myself sitting on the couch staring from the window out onto the never-ending field of land that is all owned by the hotel. A very classic English countryside touch – the fluffy sofa, the floral print fabric roll-up blinds with a touch of some oriental porcelain decoration and very old vintage furnishings.

 

Dinner was either at the Restaurant or the Horse Box. Our first night was at the Restaurant, where it is run by Executive Chef, David Williams. David holds over 25 years experience in the industry and has worked alongside both Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. Each dish that comes out of the kitchen encapsulates its very own unique blend of seasonal flavours and colours, created to impress all. The service was impeccable, friendly and personal. We had really good conversations with the staff there throughout the night, and in such an intimate small space. we did not feel being rushed at all, in fact, they waited until we finished everything and left the restaurant while it way past their closing hours.

Just look at the beautiful wooden panel wall and ceiling…

The best thing? breakfast in the room the next morning. That soft sunlight shining through the window, the tranquility of the countryside and freshly prepared food from the kitchen…the best start of the day I have to say!

An estate in the middle of nowhere (well, 15mins drive to the closest town- Cheltenham Spa), there is 2 restaurants which I’ve previously mentioned. We had breakfast, afternoon tea, and dinner and tried them all. The Afternoon tea is usually pre-booked, we managed to squeeze in for a last-minute slot, thanks to the helpful hotel staff trying their best to accommodate us. Served in the unique and spectacular Great Hall which looked like a stable-transformed living space, the backdrop to your afternoon tea in the Cotswolds could not get more fitting. We only ordered the Cream tea: freshly baked scones with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry preserve. It sure took us a while to try and decide on the range of hand picked teas from classic Earl Grey to Strawberry & Mango or even Tiramisu flavour. Mine? Tiramisu of course- it smelled so sweet and special.
Right next to the Great Hall is the Horse Box where it serves more British gastropub food with a more chilled vibe. Want a pint? Go straight there.

Now you may ask, what do we do in the countryside for a weekend? we went for a walk. Rather, a little adventure and exploration. Throwing our phones and hence, googlemaps away, we just walked according to the staff’s direction: go straight and walk all the way, and onto the crossroad you turn left onto a small village, if you go straight for another 10 mins you reach our racecourse. Ok cool. The first attempt, we got lost. We walked onto a farm that looks like it belongs to someone else’s and stopped at the gate. So we headed in the other direction and hit another gate. So we came back, asked the staff again, and turned out, all we had to do is to climb over the gate and go on. And so we did, and it was a pleasant walk on endless land in the sun and light summer breeze. We visited the little village (missing a part of it of course), and saw the racecourse, and came back safe and sound to the hotel. It was a nice afternoon spent in nature, clearing our minds, soaking in some English countryside sun and just being there.

If you don’t fancy a walk and wander outdoor, there is a spa where they offer jacuzzi and treatments. But I bet that you won’t be able to resist the beauty of surrounding lands.

The hotel also offers wellies and jackets and gears to borrow for outdoor activities in colder days. After dinner we went out for another short walk, basically took our wine and sat outside under the beautiful clear sky where we saw countless stars and a few meteor stars hanging just above us.

We had so much fun playing on this swing in the garden.

Being in the countryside for the weekend was a great decision. It gave us the opportunity to slow down, to admire nature and just feel how we should feel. Never underestimate the power of nature, even just taking a walk on the farm helps to ground you. At Ellenborough Park, the beauty of the place not only lies in its location, you get the view of how day changes into night, stars rise and move, and the sun goes up again. The outdoor pool in the heart of the park is like a little oasis, admiring the historical architecture and taking a small stroll back to the rooms was quite an interesting experience. The hospitality, very old-school and personal, can be a little bit slow when the place is fully packed with international guests. We have seen lots of very stylish cool vintage cars driven by equally stylish old couples; families with young children from the Far East, and school kids on a day out to visit the hotel. From solo travellers to big groups, local to international guests, the small team at the hotel managed to cater and do their best to keep everybody happy.

Thank you for the hospitality, it was truly a mindful weekend in the countryside which is quintessentially English.

 

Ellenborough Park
Southam Road,
Cheltenham,
Gloucestershire,
GL52 3NJ

If you drive, it’s about 2.5hrs from London, if you take trains, it’s about 2 hours direct journey from London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa, then about 10-15mins ride by taxi from there on.