You'll know you've arrived in Cheltenham when you check into The Greenway. Especially if you're lucky enough to find yourself in one of the hotel's stylish superior rooms, adorned with bold equestrian decor.
The Greenway is quiet and beautifully calm. A few minutes away from the historic Cotswold town of Cheltenham and famous racecourse, the soft stone, ivy-covered exterior of this 16th century Elizabethan manor house looks like a prestigious country house hotel. But once inside it's clear The Greenway lacks the formal, sometimes stifling atmosphere that often comes with a country abode. Instead, the hotel staff are warm and friendly, the atmosphere laid-back and relaxed.
Uniquely decorated rooms vary from traditional, with dark woods and floral prints, to more contemporary designs. All come kitted out with lovely toiletries, as well as spa robes and slippers for you to pad to your treatment in.
Talking of treatments, it may be winter outside, but you wouldn't know it in the hotel's on-site spa. Bag yourself a bed beside the hydropool, shut your eyes and you could be on a balmy beach. As well as the pool, the spa offers a small but shiny new gym, sauna, steam room, solarium, experience showers and a hot tub. Top treatments include full body massages, starting at £55, and a glass of champagne and a polish at the nail bar for a very reasonable £15.
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Meanwhile, the hotel has extensive grounds to ramble around in, with wild ponies at the bottom of the garden. And there are plenty of longer walks through the green hills that surround the hotel, which staff are more than happy to direct you to.
Though I'd stay put if I were you. There's really something very special about sipping bubbly in an outside hot tub in the middle of winter.
Food and drink:
The Greenway's dining room is intimate and candle lit in the evening and bright and airy in the morning. Pile your plate high with fruit, cereals and freshly baked pastries, while the kitchen whips you up a classic full English, smoked fish breakfast or eggs Benedict.
In the evenings, the Greenway offers two menus. Expect dishes like duck with butternut squash and plums and venison with parsnip and juniper jus. Make sure you leave room for dessert, though. The cheese trolley is the stuff (vivid) dreams are made of.
During the day you can have a simpler snack from the spa's Brasserie menu. Think healthy wraps or sandwiches. All that relaxing does build up an appetite, you know.
Price: Rooms start at £175
Address: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL51 4UG, 01242 862352, www.thegreenwayhotelandspa.com
Radio Times travel rating: 8/10 A modern twist on a country house hotel with luxurious spa facilities.