No. 131, Cheltenham: hotel review
Georgian charm and gin cocktails make this sleek Cotswolds hotel a must visit
Looking for foodie hotels in the Cotswolds? Read our review of No.131, or check out our guide here.
No. 131 in a nutshell
Upscale 36-bedroom boutique hotel spread across three palatial Georgian townhouses on Cheltenham’s stately Regency-era Promenade.
Doubles from £140, check availability at booking.com
The vibe at No.131
First opened in 2013 but recently expanded, No. 131 exemplifies a cool Cotswolds aesthetic that marries elegant period features (here it’s soaring Georgian ceilings, sash windows that let in masses of natural light and proportions worthy of an Austen novel) with eclectically modern but impeccably tasteful interiors (dusky palettes of inky navy, calming teals and misty, washed-out greys and greens, delicate statement wallpapers, plush textures and original prints from the likes of Banksy and David Hockney).
Add in an expansive restaurant and bar in the hotel's airy ground-floor rooms, a gin joint in the basement and a terrace perfectly positioned for people watching and No. 131 hums with activity, a smartly outfitted base from which its smartly dressed guests can set out to explore the town.
Which room should I book?
Bedrooms are spread over a trio of neighbouring properties: the original hotel plus The House (also available to hire for private events) and King’s House – the newest in the collection. Those who prefer to be close to the action should stay in No.131 itself – the restaurant and buzzy cocktail bar attracts a crowd at weekends – while King’s House is a little quieter. If your budget can stretch to it, stay in one of the latter’s showstopping Outstanding Rooms, multi-room affairs which come with emperor beds, vintage furniture, floor-to-ceiling windows and, in some cases, views of elegant Imperial Square.
Regardless of which you choose, expect features ranging from deep roll-top tubs and rainfall showers in boldly tiled bathrooms to antique radiators, painted wooden paneling, jewel-toned upholstered headboards and herringbone floors. Perks are plentiful, from the toiletries by rural Wiltshire brand Bramley to freshly baked treats (flaky pastéis de nata on our visit), handmade chocolates and mini bars stocked with local tipples such as Cotswolds Distillery single malt whisky and Dunkertons cider, made just outside Cheltenham.
The food and drink at No.131
The restaurant serves classic, crowd-pleasing dishes using local and West Country produce, from Cornish crab bisque and baked Brixham scallops with gruyère to Cotswold venison barnsley chop with jerusalem artichoke purée. It also serves Cotswold cream teas, including a gin-spiked version.
The biggest draw, however, is the hotel’s Gin & Juice bar in the basement – an exuberantly decorated drinking den with lush greenery, colourful patterned tiling, velvet chairs, squashy sofas and plenty of nooks to hide away in. There’s a 350-strong gin list to work your way through (staff are charmingly enthusiastic and ready to offer advice), as well as inventive cocktails such as apple cider mojitos and honey and lavender sidecars. Packed on our visit, expect DJs playing into the early hours on Friday and Saturday nights.
A plentiful breakfast buffet is served in the bar until 11am; highlights include a build-your-own granola and muesli station and DIY buck's fizz. Heartier dishes such as fry ups, devilled kidneys and kedgeree can also be ordered.
What else can foodies do?
The hotel’s central Cheltenham location means you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to dinner plans, with the likes of Michelin-starred French dining at Le Champignon Sauvage, funky Japanese sharing plates at Koj and sleek fish and seafood dishes at Purslane all just a few minutes away.
Is it family friendly?
King’s House is home to Family Rooms and Super Suites, both of which come with additional twin beds. It’s also a little quieter than the main hotel. The restaurant serves a more-imaginative-than-average children’s menu with choices such as chicken milanese with green beans as well as crowd-pleasing meatballs, burgers and penne pomodoro.
Visit in the summer months to take advantage of No.131's barbecue on the terrace and feast on spring lamb cutlets with rosemary and garlic, piri piri chicken or smoked mozzarella and veggie skewers. Groups can splash out on vodka and gin hampers serving bottle of spirits (think Belverdere and Tanqueray) with 10 different mixers and garnishes.