The Cotswolds area of England is known for rolling green hillsides and gorgeous golden stone buildings. Ellenborough Park, a luxurious five-star property in the Cotswolds, is the perfect place to enjoy that natural beauty and serenity as a family.
What will strike a visitor first and foremost is the amazing castle-like structure of the Ellenborough Park estate. As guests drive up the winding path the original manor house, which dates back to the 15th century, comes into view. As the estate slowly expanded by subsequent generations and owners, there has been a clear intention to keep with the same look and feel of the original building. So even though we stayed in one of the modern annexes of the property, there was a nice cohesion between our building and the original. Current owners took over the property in 2008 and undertook extensive renovations and improvements.
But the real pleasure of a stay at Ellenborough Park comes to life as you step outside the doors of the property, not inside. The immaculate grounds, gardens and open green space cry out for leisurely strolls and family games. Horse racing fans will appreciate the private path to Cheltenham Racecourse.
I loved watching my children explore the grounds here, as they never knew what might appear around the next corner. The sounds of their giggles bouncing off the manor walls as we kicked around a soccer ball seemed so magical given our surroundings.
Cross your fingers for warm, sunny days for a visit. The outdoor pool, set in the shadow of the tallest tower on the property, is really magnificent. I wasn’t brave enough for a swim during an April visit, but my children and husband were. The sunny patio was relaxing enough for me as I watched them enjoy the heated water.
Cheltenham, where Ellenborough Park is located in the Cotswolds, is known as a spa destination. And Ellenborough Park offers plenty of options at its own spa facility. A couples room is available, so mom and dad can both enjoy a treatment without spending time apart. While there are not treatments geared toward children, staff can arrange for babysitting services so parents can indulge.
We stayed in a luxury room. The centerpiece of our room, the large four-poster bed, not only delighted my children but made my husband and I feel as though we were experiencing a touch of royal elegance during our stay, also. Couch, desk, and plenty of seating mean guests can spread out during downtime in the room.
The bathroom was extremely spacious, a rare find in many historic European properties. The clawfoot tub, robes, luxurious bath products, and double vanity meant this space, often an afterthought at hotels, was just as relaxing as the room and the property itself.
Dining at Ellenborough Park offers an opportunity to take a break from the plastic cutlery and sippy cups, and instead embrace the sophistication of fine china and cozy tables in oak-paneled dining rooms. Even the atmosphere at breakfast is quite formal. A children’s menu in the more casual restaurant on the property, Brasserie, is extensive so there will be options even the pickiest eater will enjoy. An Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea for children is planned for summer 2015.
However, guests should note that dining at Ellenborough Park, even the more casual Brasserie, may prove difficult with toddlers. Tables are small, the atmosphere is quiet and intimate, and I felt a constant state of concern that my 3-year-old would break the Wedgewood china.
Should you need a highchair, please mention this when booking your table, as tracking one down was a challenge for another family we saw at breakfast. If you are staying at Ellenborough Park with little ones, consider opting for room service instead. It’s available 24-hours, a rare convenience at smaller properties like this.
Ellenborough Park makes an excellent base for exploring the Cotswolds. Cheltenham is a quaint town, and there are many family-friendly attractions within a short drive of the property. We enjoyed a full day at the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to. There are countless historical homes, farms and villages for families to explore nearby, as well as outstanding hiking and cycling options.
There is much to appreciate about a stay at Ellenborough Park. But be warned that your children might soon be asking when they can return to that hotel that looks like a castle.
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Editor’s Note: Nicole was given complimentary accommodation at Ellenborough Park. As always, our opinions are our own at Ciao Bambino. Photos by Nicole Wiltrout.
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