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Cowley Manor (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire)

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Address: Cowley Manor / Cowley / near Cheltenham / Gloucerstershire / GL53 9NL

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      26.07.2012 22:47
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      Exceptionally good hotel on the borders of the Cotswolds. Highly recommended

      Cowley Manor is a luxury hotel and spa in Gloucestershire, UK, on the Borders of the Cotswolds. The hotel is a glorious manor house with external buildings also used as accommodation situated in acres of beautiful gardens. It's crowning glory is it's c-side spa which consists of treatment rooms, gym, sauna, steam room and indoor and outdoor pools. on the whole it is a wonderful and relaxing place to stay... If you can afford it's fairly hefty price tag.

      We went there late October and stayed a Monday night in one of their 'better' rooms. We got a package deal at £250 for the night to include accommodation, spa use, breakfast and a 3 course dinner. Room rates however range from £175 upwards to £500+ per night depending on the standard of the room and the time of week and year. Summer commands highest fees as do weekends and for the latter a minimum stay of 2 nights is required.

      Cowley Manor maintains something of a boutique charm. The entrance way is a winding drive through immaculate gardens to the old house and reception. Parking is ample and available directly outside the main house... although in this prime location they only have limited spaces.

      Upon entering the hotel you are struck by it's feeling of classic glamour and chic. It feels almost as though you have set foot onto the set of Mad Men such is the retro styling of the furnishings. Colourful spherical plastic seating accompany 50's leather chairs and domed hairdryer arced lighting. Dashes of colour are everywhere from luminous green walls to navy blue upholstered chairs to bright orange lamp stands. It's a cavernous place with numerous places to sit and relax, including a gorgeous terrace and gardens when it's not raining. Exploring the house alone could seemingly take a day and it's a wonderful place to relax and people watch. The day we were there they had a fashion photo shoot on and I'm hardly surprised given the unique decor.

      The rooms themselves are modern, simple and elegant. We stayed in one of the better rooms that was in one of the outhouses. The room was very narrow but on 3 floors. The ground floor where you entered was a lounge area with sofa,television and mini bar. The floor was covered with a jazzy, almost psychedelic patterned carpet. A narrow staircase led up to the bathroom with separate shower and lavatory cubicles, the bath being in the room itself meaning you can't get from lounge to bedroom without going through it. On the top floor was the bedroom itself. This largely consisted of just a bed, chair and small hi-fi already playing the Cowley Manor CD. The less said about the CD the better! One entire side of the room(s) was made up by a floor to ceiling window covering the entire height of all rooms. This was controlled by a rather nifty electric operated blind that you could control from any room.

      The room was very clean and the bathroom particularly, very stylish. Otherwise, furnishing were colourful, minimal and functional.

      Where this hotel really comes into it's own is with the C-Side Spa. It's immaculate, peaceful and elegant. We didn't use the gym or outdoor pool but did use the sauna, steam room and indoor pool. The steam room was mint scented and incredibly refreshing. The sauna had a classic, real coal stove that heat up very quickly. Both were relatively small but well designed and worked a treat. The pool was probably 20 meters in length and surrounded by calming dark green tiling. It wasn't really the kind of pool for swimming but more relaxing. The staff were very helpful and friendly and the whole place had a generally relaxed feeling. It stays open til late (around 8pm I think) so great for an evening unwind.

      The hotel has a bar and restaurant. The bar is decorated similarly to the rest of the hotel maintaining the 50's/60's theme. It was comfortable and relaxing with excellent table service. We had very good cocktails that were on the dear side but not extortionate (around £10 each I think for a champagne cocktail).

      Included in our booking was also a 3 course dinner. The food we though was good although wouldn't have come here purely to eat. I ate a steak that was very good quality and wasn't fatty and had a pate as a starter. Both were very good but not exceptional. Breakfast was also included and consisted of a buffet bar of fresh fruit, cereals, etc... and then a cooked breakfast. I opted for the full English that was excellent and very generous in it's portion. Ingredients were fresh, local and excellent.

      Also on site is the village shop which sell an array of local produce from crafts through to the cosmetics range used by the C-Side Spa and the hotel themselves. The products are very good quality. Slightly cheeky is that they charge you if you take anything away from the room but given that they command quite high fees it's not surprising.

      Cowley Manor is an exceptionally good hotel. There is little I can fault it on. One night wasn't enough and we didn't even get to explore the grounds due to the poor weather. We will definitely return and hopefully will do so during the warmer months as I imagine this is when it really comes into it's own.

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