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Cheltenham

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Cheltenham[3][4] is a historic spa town in England, which started its development in the early 1700s with the discovery of healing waters. It became very popular after the visit of King George III in 1788 and developed further. You cannot take the waters in Cheltenham, but you can visit the Pump Room in Pittville Park to get a feeling for the ambience.

Cheltenham is now probably most famous for its series of cultural festivals and for the Gold Cup horse race, which takes place in mid-March every year and attracts very large crowds, with visitors having to book accommodation well in advance, possibly as early as the previous year. Many people accept rooms anywhere within about a 50 mi radius.

Understand[edit]

A wealthy town for centuries, Cheltenham still retains its regal status. Laced with wonderful Regency architecture, which glimmers in summer, with its gorgeous historic shopping areas and wonderful parks, this town will not disapoint.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Frequent rail links to London Paddington, Bristol and the south and Birmingham and the north. There is a regular bus service (D/E) or an easy walk through Montpellier into the centre (15-20 minutes). Taxis are available from outside the station.

By car[edit]

The M5 reaches Cheltenham from the North and South and the A40 from the East (from Oxford) is also a useful transport link. Parking is rarely a problem now in Cheltenham, but the one way systems can sometimes get a little confusing. With this in mind a good option would be to use the Park and Ride facility National Park and Ride Directory [5]
If you are planning a day at the races Cheltenham, has its own Racecourse Park and Ride [6] facility. Alternatively, you can combine the races with a visit to the classic Cotswold town of Winchcombe and take a steam train from there to the racecourse [[7]. There are special racegoer trains in Gold Cup week.

By bus[edit]

There are buses from Cirencester, Stroud and other local villages to Cheltenham once an hour. National bus services are also available. National Express stops at the Royal Well station (behind The Promenade) for easy links to London Heathrow and beyond. It is not possible to buy a ticket at the station outside of office-hours, so purchase online or by telephone.

Get around[edit]

Taxis[edit]

Taxis are fairly reliable. If you flag a taxi down or get one from the taxi rank, you will be charged from the meter, but if you book with a taxi company, you will be charged considerably less. Most locals use taxis at night as far as the surrounding villages as night buses are few (apart from a regular link to Gloucester). At night, taxis wait along The Promenade (it can be very busy at pub-closing times).

Buses[edit]

The main bus company is Stagecoach.[8] It operates a number of buses around the town, mainly on routes with letters rather than numbers.

The D and E bus routes go from the station through the town centre to the racecourse and on to Bishop's Cleeve. Day passes are available.

See[edit][add listing]

  • The broad, tree-lined Promenade and its continuation in Montpellier Walk (look for the caryatids) and Montpellier Street, the town's smartest shopping streets (the chain stores are mercifully elsewhere, in the High Street).
  • Imperial Gardens (off the Promenade) with its colourful display of summer flowers.
  • Pittville Park, laid out in the early 19th century as the centre of the then-new residential area of Pittville. The park is arranged round an artificial lake, with Pittville Pump Room on the hillside at the north-western edge. The Pump Room is open for free visits to see the fine interior and water tasting when it is not being used for events or weddings.
  • Go for a drink at The Rising Sun Hotel. It's a bar/hotel at the top of Cleeve hill overlooking Cheltenham. If you get there for sunset the views of Cheltenham are spectacular.
  • Use the town as a touring base [9] - it's very much part of the Cotswolds.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Test the waters (and go to concerts) at the Pittville Pump Room [10] (10 min walk north of High Street)
  • Visit the Holst Birthplace Museum [11], where the composer Gustav Holst was born in 1874.
  • Visit the Art Gallery and Museum [12] on Clarence Steet. Its collection of furniture and other pieces by Cotswold-based Arts and Crafts Movement craftsmen such as Ernest Gimson and Edward Barnsley is particularly good.
  • See a production at the Everyman [13] or Playhouse [14].
  • Go shopping on the Promenade and in the elegant Montpellier area
  • Visit the heritage Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway [15] that runs steam-hauled trains between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway most weekends throughout the year except in January, February and early March (it restarts for Gold Cup week) and most weekdays in summer. It often has notable visiting engines, such as the Great Western Railway 'City of Truro', which was the first in the world to exceed 100 mph, in 1904.

Events[edit]

Buy[edit][add listing]

Montpellier and Suffolks areas have stylish boutiques, whilst The Promenade has upmarket brands. Regent Arcade, Cavendish House (House of Fraser) and John Lewis and Partners are popular. The High Street and Lower High Street are where you find all the usual chain stores.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • Paparrito's, 214-216 High Street. Mexican cantina serving freshly made burritos, tacos and salads.  edit
  • Munchies, 6A Montpellier Walk. Tiny takeaway sandwich shop with varied and tasty choices.  edit
  • Wakame 304 High Street, GL50 3SY. Popular, simple and unpretentious Chinese restaurant.
  • Garlic and Ginger 334 High Street, GL50 3JF. Korean BBQ bar.
  • Old Restoration 55-57 High Street, GL50 1DX. Barracuda chain pub just to the East of the pedestrian section of the High Street, with food most nights starting at £5.
  • Hog's Head, 73-75 High Street, GL50 1DU. Modern chain pub in the pedestrian section of the High Street. Offers include fish and chips with a beer for £5.
  • Frog & Fiddle, 313-315 High Street, GL50 3HW. Admittedly you can't buy food here but the great thing about this place is you can bring in your own! There are plenty of takeaways opposite to tempt you. A great atmosphere, often gets local bands and cheap drinks (especially for students!) Pint: £3 (around £2.30 with student card)
  • Pittville Gates. A row of popular fast-food rather than one single restaurant. Located on the nearest edge of Pittville Park. Very handy for walking back to the town from the races. Marmaris (Pizza, Kebab, Burgers) are always fresh and friendly. Chinese, Indian and British all available along the same row.

Mid-range[edit]

  • The Curry Corner 133 Fair View Road, GL52 2EX, 01242 528449 [16] Bangladeshi cuisine, as featured on Gordon Ramsay's television show "The F Word", where Ramsay praised the restaurant for being one of the best Indian independent restaurants in the United Kingdom.
  • Daffodil 18-20 Suffolk Parade, GL50 2AE [17] Converted cinema, decorated in an art Deco style. Just off Suffolk Road
  • Flynns The Courtyard, Montpellier St, GL50 1SR in Montpellier does a decent steak at a reasonable price.
  • The Langton, [18] on London Road in Charlton Kings, offers some nice (if slightly pricy) bar food in a Regency-style building, as well as a good Sunday lunch.
  • Storyteller, 11 North Pl, 01242 250343 [19], is reasonably posh and nice. Very popular.
  • Zizzi's St. James Church, Suffolk Square, GL50 2DR [20] Wonderful converted Church, elegantly decorated with good Italian food and wine. Family/baby-friendly in the daytime.
  • Siam Smile 12 Suffolk Road, GL50 2AQ 01242 260666 [21] Good Thai and Malaysian food.

Splurge[edit]

  • Champignon Sauvage, [22]. 24-28 Suffolk Road, GL50 2AQ. Long-standing Michelin-starred restaurant. A unique opportunity to be cooked for by the renowned chef David Everitt-Matthias.
  • Lumière, [23]. Clarence Parade, GL50 3PA. Creative and exciting restaurant in the town centre.
  • Prithvi, [24]. Highly refined and intimate establishment serving 'elevated' Indian classics.
  • No. 131, [25]. 131 Promenade, GL50 1NW. Classy and chic restaurant with rooms serving top-quality favourites such as steak, lobster, beef wellington and seasonal game with an impressive wine and cocktail selection to match.

Take Away[edit]

There are many take away restaurants and cafes in Cheltenham. Most are open for breakfast, lunch and tea and you will find many open late into the evening. Some included are:

  • Subway
  • Burger King
  • McDonalds
  • KFC
  • Burger Star
  • Chicken Inn

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • The Swan. A popular bar with frequent entertainment. It's located on The Strand (which connects to The High St) and has a large heated outdoor area for smokers. Serves both local and known-brand drinks.
  • The Retreat. Established wine bar in Montpellier, located on Suffolk Parade. Worth finding to enjoy the 'posh' side of Cheltenham. Popular with Cheltenham College on Friday/Saturday when it can be very busy. Ask the locals for other lesser known restaurants and bars nearby. Montpellier is not easy to explore without local knowledge.

Clubbing[edit]

  • MooMoo Clubrooms (large, popular venue)
  • Under the Prom (stylish venue with the latest music)
  • Fever (colourful lights, disco balls and retro tunes)
  • 21 Club (small and popular venue)
  • Thirteen Degrees (upmarket club split into a few different rooms with different music - great for a more intimate vibe)

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • YMCA, 6 Vittoria Walk, 01242 524024 [26]. Needs more reviews There is access to wifi. A review described it as lacking character. £19 bed and breakfast. Open Weekdays 7.30AM-10PM, Weekends 9AM-10PM.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Alice Guest House B&B 141 Swindon Road, Cheltenham ☎(+44) 1242 253000 Small bed and breakfast accommodation close to the town centre and all amenities. All rooms have tea/coffee making facilities, TV and free Wi-Fi. Prices start from just £40 per night with breakfast included. See website: [27]
  • Hilden Lodge Hotel, 271 London Road (on the A40 towards Oxford, just out of town centre), 01242 583242 [28], unreviewed £35 to £50 per person, per night, newly renovated.
  • Benton's Guest House, 71 Bath Road, 01242 517417. [29] unreviewed. £25 per person.
  • Homelands Bed & Breakfast, Butts Lane, Woodmancote, Cheltenham, GL52 9QH, 01242 677227. [30] unreviewed. Single from £35 per night and Double from £60.
  • Cross Ways Guest House, 57 Bath Road, 01242 527683 [31] Unreviewed. Single £50 per night.
  • Holiday Inn Express Cheltenham Town Centre, Dunalley Street, 01242 548 200 [32] Unreviewed. Double £60 per night.
  • Central Hotel, 7-9 Portland Street, Cheltenham, GL52 2NZ, 01242 582172, [1]. checkin: 2.00PM; checkout: 10.00AM. The Central Hotel is in the Town Centre. 20 rooms are available at the hotel, the majority of which offer En-Suite facilities. The rooms have a microwave and fridge for limited self catering, and the hotel does not have a restaurant. From £36.  edit
  • Central Studios (298 Gloucester Road), 298 Gloucester Road, Cheltenham, GL51 7AG, 01242 582172, [2]. checkin: 2.00PM; checkout: 10.00AM. A range of self catering, bedsit style rooms that include microwave oven, fridge and private sink. Price is kept down by using communal bathrooms, and not having reception staff. Near railway station. From £29.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • The Abbey hotel, 16 Bath Parade (Follow signs for A&E at the hospital, the hotel is nearby: Bath Parade is a little further along that road on the opposite side), 01242 516053 [33]. . Basic single £33.
  • Charlton Kings Hotel & Restaurant London Road (on the A40 towards Oxford, just out of town centre), 01242 231061 [34].
  • The Queen's Hotel, The Promenade 0870 400 8107 [35]. As you would exect from a high-end hotel; handy central Location.
  • Montpellier House, 33 Montpellier Terrace, GL50 1UX [36]. Awarded Period Living Magazine 2013 Award, a luxury self catering option.

Get out[edit]

  • Cineworld Cinema The Brewery (Just off the High St, behind Tesco), This new cinema put the Odeon out of business. Decent screens, decent sound, comfy seats, expensive popcorn 0871 220 8000.
  • Everyman Theatre Located on Regent Street in Cheltenham, it has been serving the town since 1891. It has recently had an expensive refurbishment and still produces to top class, West-End productions. Tickets are available for the box office at 01242 572573 or online.[37]
  • The Playhouse For 60 years, the people of Cheltenham have enjoyed the notable facility of their own theatre, in which talented amateurs from all walks of life can work together with a single purpose; the presentation of nonprofessional drama of exceptionally high standards to the theatre-going public.[38]
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