Ellenborough Park might as well be Heavenborough Park.
If you’re looking for the perfect mini-moon break or just a break, then this Cotswolds retreat is just the ticket.
We had our big Indian wedding at the end of April and aside from pulling an all-nighter the night before the wedding – those table plans won’t write themselves – waking up at 4.30am for hair and make up (Indian weddings ain’t no joke), I donned an outfit that would make any gypsy proud.
Having had zero minutes of sleep, I went straight into the wedding: 10 hours of sitting, standing, posing, dancing, smiling and talking. It was such a joyous day but by the end of it, we were exhausted.
Traditionally the post-wedding activities are left to the groom to organize, and so I entrusted Greg to find somewhere we could retreat afterwards as a mini-moon. I knew this to be a two-edged sword. I know Greg well. He’s a last-minute man. However, when he does get round to sorting something out, the end result is usually spectacular, which invariably lets him off the hook. True to form, the morning after the wedding, nothing was booked. Yet, come the afternoon we were heading into the depths of the Cotswolds.
Heading into the long, sweeping drive, Ellenborough Park is an impeccable piece of 15th century grandeur. If you’re looking for quiet comfort and somewhere to wind down and just be, this is your place.
It’s properly English. It does a proper breakfast, with proper service, in the proper countryside. The interiors are also fascinating. Although a stately home, the communal space interiors are more English medieval meets Morocco, which is an amazingly bizarre yet awesome meeting of styles that works beautifully. Two words. GOLD WALLS.
The spa is a treat and passed all of Greg’s requisite criteria. I’ve never met a man who loves to spa as much as Greg; the white waffle robes, the steam room, the fluffy towels, lounging on loungers – he loves it all.
The spa is relatively small but immaculate – we had the steam room, sauna, jacuzzi pretty much to ourselves as well as the outdoor pool. However, a slight disclaimer to this would be that we were fortunate to go during the week and it felt like we had the run of the hotel. I imagine the weekends are busier and if you’re wanting a spa treatment or an afternoon tea, I would highly advise booking ahead, as the slots were almost entirely booked up for the duration of our stay – which can only mean good things.
The treatment rooms are above the spa and look divine. Although I didn’t manage to get a massage in, total serenity washed over me just looking into the treatment rooms; all low lit, dark, cosy and full of soft warm towels.
The sense of freedom around the estate and hotel is incredible. We felt liberated from wedding organising; we were immersed in our surroundings, giving us a degree of comfort and release that only comes from being in a home. I find that an indicator of a truly remarkable hotel and is something that can’t be ‘designed’.
A rare breed of hotel, it’s fully equipped to provide any type of retreat you want. Whether you’re after countryside adventure, afternoon tea pampering or just be with your new spouse, chatting about all the glorious possibilities lying ahead of you, over breakfast…or just agreeing on what time to hit the spa, Ellenborough Park serves up serious amounts of bliss, marital or otherwise.
Ellenborough Park, Southam Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 3NJ
Photography by Shireen & Gregory Dhaliwal-Davies