As our readers should know by now Elldrew are great fans of weekend breaks, especially to the English countryside. Planning a leisurely drive away from the city for a few days is the perfect way to recharge one’s batteries; no crowded airports with long check-ins queues, 4 hours of your life lost on a 45 min flight to go only a few hundred miles away. Why not hit the road, setting the pace and schedule on your terms and take in the ever-changing view from the comfort of your own pilot seat! Despite not being half way through 2015 Elldrew have been lucky enough to take advantage of three mini getaways…so here’s what we have been up to.
Our favourite has to be Cowley Manor in Cheltenham, about 2 hours drive from London. We first went here a few years ago and have been itching to go back and see if it was as remembered: it has been the standard against which we have measured a many spa break since. Despite some less than favourable TripAdvisor reviews we weren’t disappointed.
Part of Cowley’s charm is that it’s small; only 30 bedrooms. Big enough for a gastronomic dining room, comfy bar, relaxing lounge, library & games room including a decadent spa ‘block’ away from the main house offering great treatment facilities with in and outdoor pools…but small enough for the staff to remember your name and favourite drink.
Speaking about the staff, they are super friendly; sometimes perhaps too friendly [it was sweet they swapped the music for the album we commented on that we liked the previous evening, playing it every time we walked into the lounge…but it really wasn’t necessary] but it’s this same staff that helps give Cowley its comfy vibe.
This trip we found the dining room staff a little…errr…inexperienced; they probably didn’t need to double check whether the lamb samosa amuse bouche was vegetarian but it was nice to see they were enthusiastic enough to want to check with the chef [we know that last sentence doesn’t really make sense but it was the conversation we overhead on the table next to us so yes, we were a little lost also but felt we had to share it]. Talking of which, lamb samosas were a somewhat odd choice of amuse bouche in a restaurant mostly serving British gourmet food.
But whilst providing the occasional giggle it’s this quirkiness that we do love (think of that classic TV show ‘Fawlty Towers’ – in a positive way of course). If you want to spend Sunday curled up in a onesie around the lounge playing Connect4 and drinking mugs of hot chocolate, well, you can. And that’s why we love Cowley; it really feels like a home away from home.
Add in the mix of old school glamour and contemporary furniture throughout the public areas and guest bedrooms, the beautiful exterior of the building, the little touches like complimentary Wellies and umbrellas for walks around the expansive and beautiful grounds, or a robe for the dash down to the spa area with it’s heated pools…the setting, the staff and the service still makes Cowley one of our favourite hotels in the UK. We will be back!
Next we head off to Pennyhill Park Spa Hotel in Surrey…