The Lucky Onion runs six hotels, pubs and restaurants in and around the Cotswolds. No 131, one of two hotels it has in Cheltenham, opened in 2013.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Housed in a Georgian Grade II listed townhouse that had previously lain derelict for seven years, No 131 comprises 11 guestrooms and a restaurant and bar called Crazy Eights. It is due to double in size by September next year with the addition of 11 further rooms in the building next door, which is currently under renovation.
As with the group’s other properties (such as the Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach, reviewed here), No 131 has been designed by owner Georgie Pearman in luxury boutique style. There is a terrace at the front for warmer weather, with steps leading up from the street to the entrance, where a member of staff welcomed us. Inside, we were checked in promptly and shown to our room.
To the right of the entrance hallway is the bar and restaurant; to the right a beautifully furnished lounge filled with plush seating, fireplaces, art and lifestyle books and magazines, and lots of striking modern and contemporary art – the property’s collection includes original works by David Hockney, Peter Blake and Henry Hudson. To the rear, a large picture window looks on to Cheltenham Ladies College. Bustling on the Saturday afternoon I stayed, it was serene on the Sunday morning, with guests perusing the papers to the soft strains of reggae in the background.
WHERE IS IT?
In a prime Cheltenham position on the Promenade, home to many of the town’s best shops, and facing the Imperial Gardens. There is no private parking; there are pay-and-display spaces in front of and behind the property.
Rooms range from 16 sqm to 30 sqm and are categorised Cosy – once the servants’ quarters, located in the roof and featuring a shower only – Very Good and Excellent. Each has been individually designed and, given the nature of the building, come in different shapes and sizes.
All have king beds, free wifi, Loewe flatscreens with Sky and Apple TV (including a library of movies), minibars with items from local producers, Nespresso machines, tea facilities, toiletries by 100 Acres in large bottles (available to buy), robes and Egyptian cotton linens by Three Thieving Magpies.
I stayed in Excellent room 6 on the first floor. Attractive, high-ceilinged and spacious, with Georgian wall panelling, its shuttered sash windows overlooked the Promenade and gardens. A tranquil abstract seascape hung on the wall, and its colours – pale green and cream – inspired the room’s décor. (This was also the case in another Excellent room, which was styled in grey to match a stormy-looking seascape on the wall.)
The room had dark wood parquet flooring, a writing desk with an antique floor lamp, a sitting area with a green velvet loveseat, and a lovely rolltop bath positioned between the windows, with the large mosaic-floored bathroom also featuring a walk-in rainshower and twin sinks. At the foot of the bed was a double-sided TV that ascended out of its cabinet at the touch of an iPad, and so could be watched either from the bath or bed. There was also a Bowers and Wilkins speaker.
Other nice touches included woollen hot water bottles and, at turndown, complimentary hot chocolate and cookies. I would have liked a pair of slippers, given the wooden floor, and a make-up/shaving mirror in the bathroom would have been helpful – I had to squeeze into the space between the wall and sink to put in my contact lenses.
The windows were fitted with blackout blinds, although, being the original singled-glazed panes, there was a fair bit of noise from the street (I was told rooms to the rear of the property were not really quieter as they are above the bar). I also found it quite warm (there was a fan in the corner, but no air conditioning), although the bed was sumptuous and I had a decent night’s rest.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Popular with locals as well as guests, the bar and restaurant are split across two levels. The ground floor is the more formal of the two for dining, although with a cool vibe and more funky artworks, while downstairs is the bar, an outdoor private walled terrace, a pool room and an informal area for dining and drinks with slouchy seating and an open fire.
We had an enjoyable meal upstairs. The menu comprises flavoursome British and modern European dishes using homegrown produce – I tried the zingy and generous tuna tartare with avocado, sesame and soy (£11.75) to start, and an excellent piece of roasted Cornish cod in an earthy stew of Palourde clams, chickpeas and chorizo (£18.95).
After dinner we had a drink in the bar, which was really buzzing on this Saturday night with a DJ playing and a nice crowd.
Breakfast was served on the ground floor and comprised a continental spread (included in the room rate) and à la carte dishes.
There are four private rooms located off the dining spaces, accommodating between four and 12 people.
None, apart from the pool table.
An excellent choice if you are spending time in Cheltenham either for business or leisure. The location is great, the rooms are attractively furnished with plenty of thoughtful touches, and the restaurant and bar are well worth checking out.
Internet rates for an overnight stay in December started from £113 for a Cosy room.