What you need to know about Cheltenham
Cheltenham is an elegant town, built in the 18th and 19th centuries as a pleasure resort for wealthy tourists visiting the city’s spas. Visitors still flock to this charming Cotswold spa town today, but more to admire the sweeping Regency architecture and indulge in stylish shopping and dining than to take to the restorative spa waters.
Cheltenham is a great base for exploring the beautiful Cotswolds, but the town itself has plenty of leafy promenades, award-winning gardens, classy shopping and cultural festivals to keep you thoroughly entertained, as well as one of the finest steeplechase racecourses in the UK.
Food and drink
Cheltenham has a reputation as the foodie capital of the Cotswolds and the town definitely doesn’t disappoint. There are stylish cafes on every corner, with some great restaurants and gastropubs serving everything from fancy fish and chips to modern British cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients.
There are plenty of places to dine al fresco, and if you’re up for a little haute cuisine, Cheltenham has a 2 Michelin star restaurant, Le Champignon Sauvage.
Once you’ve exhausted Cheltenham’s pleasures, take a drive east into some of the nearby Cotswold villages – you’ll find plenty of ancient pubs serving fabulous food, and an atmosphere that delightfully captures the charm of the west country.
Cheltenham is a lovely place for a day’s shopping – you’ll find the usual chains on the pedestrianised High Street and in the Regent Arcade but that’s just the beginning of Cheltenham’s retail charms.
Cheltenham Promenade has a great department store, some luxury retailers and independent boutiques, and a wonderfully continental atmosphere, with plenty of places to eat or drink.
If you prefer more individuality, head for the quirky boutiques, antique shops and gorgeous gift shops of Montpellier and The Suffolks, which has a delightful village feel, but offers plenty of stylish places to shop.
Cheltenham is known for its light industry, aerospace and military installations, and its growing financial services sector.
You’ll find the headquarters of GE-Aviation here, as well as the Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ. Other businesses based here include Zurich Financial Services, Endsleigh Insurance, Chelsea Building Society and shower manufacturer Kohler Mira.
Cheltenham sits 60 miles south of Birmingham and 40 miles north of Bristol, and is easily accessible from the M5. There are regular train connections to London, Bristol, Birmingham and the north, and it’s an hours drive to Bristol or Birmingham International Airports.
Once you’re settled into your serviced apartment, you’ll find the town is a delight to explore on foot, but if you need to travel further afield there are good bus services covering the region. If you’d like to stretch your legs a little further, take a bus or taxi to Cleeve Hill on the town’s eastern edge and walk part of the Cotswold Way, with breathtaking views over the town.
Things to watch out for
Cheltenham has a thriving arts programme, with festivals throughout the year, from folk music in February to jazz in April/May, science in June, music in July and the famous literary festival in October.
In March, 40,000 horseracing fans descend on Cheltenham racecourse for the four day jump racing festival, so expect heavy traffic and big crowds!