Dining in style at No131
First impressions: Georgina and Sam Pearman know a thing or two about style. And romance. And bathrooms. This time last year, I was reclining in the biggest bathtub I’ve ever had the pleasure of wallowing in, at The Wheatsheaf Inn, their property in the Cotswolds. But today, on the elegant promenade in Cheltenham, it’s all about the shower. And, with a head twice the size of my own, I know I’m on to a good thing. One shower and one bath later (my bath included a martini glass filled to the brim with Prosecco); the Mr and I are both in a serious state of unwind – and we’ve only been here an hour.
Like the other properties in The Lucky Onion’s portfolio, this Georgian villa is styled to perfection. On arrival, we walk past at first, lamenting how stunning a building it is, before gleefully realising it’s our home for the next 24 hours. Muted tones, comfy sofas, a city-meets-country vibe in the form of antique treasures alongside neon signs and a hilarious wall-size image of a bikini-clad bottom at the easyJet counter make this stylish, witty and one of a kind.
Room for romance: A parquet floor and high ceiling welcome us to our smart sanctuary, Room 6 (one of 11 bespoke rooms). Heavy double doors lead to the bathroom of our dreams: that shower; mosaic-style floor tiles; a double sink complete with mirrored pineapple (why not?); and room to dry – or dance should the feeling take you – have me yearning to spend all my time in there. But why would we when our suite comprises of a giant bed, bathtub, and neat velvet sofa for catching up on the provided glossies. Rising from the end of the bed, there are two TVs – one facing the bed and one facing the tub. Tell the Mr to bring the earphones and you’ll be in bathing heaven while he cheers on his boys. Organic snacks in the mini bar, British artwork on the walls, 100 Acres toiletries and an iPod docking station make this one room we can definitely relax in.
Wine & dine: Our evening begins at the glitzy bar where we drink to the backdrop of cocktails being muddled, and our tastebuds get into a frenzy over the decadent menu. A range of prime cuts we’ve never even heard of leave us in no doubt that this is the place to forgo the Veggie Monday rulebook. So the Mr orders the T-bone. It’s enormous! And is accompanied by a hollandaise and stilton sauce, and beef dripping chips that have to be tasted to be believed. In a vain attempt not to overdo it, I order the goat’s cheese salad starter over the crab gratin. Which, although delicious and my arteries probably thanked me, riled me when the crab rocked up at the next table and was met with the sort of delight Gregg Wallace displays halfway through a triple-chocolate torte.
Bedroom/bathroom bliss at No131
After a blissful sleep, we wake to mini milk bottles filled with juice and a couple of teeny pastries delivered to our room for a leisurely pre-breakfast wake-up call. With time to wipe the sleep from our eyes, and leaving a few crumbs in the bed, we idly make our way downstairs where the Mr – where did he find the room after that T-bone? – enjoys scrambled eggs as fresh and as yellow as a daisy. I’m torn between the crushed avocado and poached egg; granola, yoghurt and berries; or freshly cooked ham and brie; but eventually plump for the classic granary toast slathered with honeycomb all washed down with a pot of earl grey. Breakfast perfection!
We love: Cheltenham is shopping central – from Toast, The White Company and Jigsaw, to GAP via Cath Kidston, you’ll cover all bases in one day, so it makes for the perfect romantic weekend. And what a gorgeous backdrop for weddings. Among the splendor of this pretty spa town, No 131 is perfect for an intimate do – you’ll be in heaven in one of the numerous private dining areas within the property. For ceremonies, nearby Elmore Court has a mud marquee, the Cotswolds offers endless pretty barns – Cripps Barn and Stone Barn being a couple of our favourites – or the Cheltenham Pump Rooms are just a short hop. Walking up the promenade will guarantee wedding photos from another era; not only is No 131 a stunner of a building, but it’s also opposite some pretty gardens and gorgeous property in the form of Lansdown Rd and Montpellier Terrace.
We don’t love: Having to check out! Oh, and due to our enjoyment and reluctance to move a muscle during dinner, we didn’t realise the bar extended to the gorgeous outside seated area (outdoor fire, and games room included) and dedicated cheese, wine and charcuterie room, until it was too late – and we were too full – to enjoy any more. But it does give us the perfect excuse to go back…
Go there: Rooms start at £170 per night; there are three room categories: cosy (£170), Very Good (£250), and Excellent (£330). We stayed in an Excellent.
131 Promenade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
, GL50 1NW. For more information call, 01242 822939, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit no131.com