What kind of traveller are you?
I fancy myself as a bit of an adventurer – I love exploring new places and getting lost in the middle of nowhere (which happens very often given my lousy sense of direction). My holidays are always pretty action-packed: I love seeing and doing lots of new things and trying lots of new food. Food especially is one of my favourite parts of travelling. Having said that I do also love lying on the beach for days at end with nothing but a bikini and a good book.
Why did you pick Cheltenham?
It seems to be a rule of thumb that you travel the world but never see very much of the country you’re actually from. This year I made a resolution to discover more of dear old Blighty and so far I’ve had a great time doing it. Visiting Cheltenham was, in large, a piece of this patriotic pilgrimage. But that’s not to say this pretty spa town hadn’t been on my radar for a while, partly because of the world-famous literature festival it hosts and partly because of its popularity with literary types over the years. Charles Dickens once said of Victorian Cheltenham “I have rarely seen a place that so attracted my fancy,” and this is an accolade which modern Cheltenham can still lay claim to. The town is home to vibrant culture, architectural beauty and a buzzing nightlife and is surrounded by beautiful countryside – as well as being a very accessible 2 hour train journey from London.
Why did you pick No. 38 The Park?
As soon as I saw the images of No. 38 The Park I fell in love and knew I had to visit. The beautiful design, unique fabrics and furnishings and attention to the tiniest detail make it a truly special stay, no matter the occasion. Each bedroom at No. 38 is uniquely designed and each one has a different feel, yet all are finished to the same high standard and are filled with furniture and materials sourced from quality British producers. Needless to say, I left the next day with plenty of homeware inspiration. As well as the enviable décor, the staff at No. 38 are also worth visiting for. From the moment we arrived, we were greeted warmly and made to feel welcome. Every little need was catered for and nothing was too much trouble. The result: we left feeling utterly pampered.
What was your favourite place in No. 38 The Park?
The majestic roll-top bath? The vast expanse of soft bed? The utterly stylish lounge area? There were so many lovely spots it’s hard to pick a favourite. If I had to choose, I’d say the room was my favourite spot. It was just so cosy and comfortable, I never wanted to leave.
What is the one thing you can’t travel without?
My phone, and not for the reason you think. Without Google Maps I’d be entirely lost and would have barely been able to get to the train station, let alone the hotel… I also love having the easily accessible and transportable camera which comes with it – it means I won’t miss snapping a single moment of the adventure.
What was your favourite part of the trip?
Sinking into the free-standing bath, glass of bubbly in one hand and a good book in the other – pure bliss…
We had an exquisite meal in the restaurant at No. 131 The Promenade – sister hotel to No. 38. The restaurant offers a fantastic menu made with locally-sourced, seasonal products. We started with the melt-in-the-mouth Twice Baked Cheese Soufflé, which disappeared very quickly. We then moved on to a succulent steak each (one sirloin, one cauliflower), with accompanying peppercorn sauce and truffled mash – we were on holiday, after all… We washed down the lovely food with a refreshing pint of Dunkerton’s cider, from the hotel owner’s family brewery. All in all, the meal was top-notch and the service friendly and attentive, we left feeling merry and well-fed and ready for our giant, super soft bed.
The amazing cocktails served at No.131’s bar were a pretty notable discovery. Quirky, innovative and delicious – these were dangerously moreish. I started with a Charlotte’s Jam Jar, which included a good spoonful of raspberry jam – and then moved on to a decadent champagne-infused Palm Style Martini. I was very tempted to spend the rest of the evening diligently sampling the rest of the menu, but by this point my ginormous, unbelievably comfortable bed was calling so I decided to put off trying the rest ‘til the next time. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the downstairs hotel bar – The Crazy Eights – is a buzzing party spot where you’ll find all the hip locals hanging out.
Seeing as we’d visited the famous literary town, I had to bring home a book, for two, for myself. I chose The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry which is an utterly fabulous read – giving me plenty of inspiration to head over to the East coast of England for my next weekend adventure.
Where are you headed to next?
Apart from gallivanting across the UK? My next adventure is going to be to Europe’s hippest capital…Berlin (sorry, London). Next time we catch up I’ll have lots to say about currywursts, cool underground techno clubs and, of course, the city’s very best boutique spots.
Find out more about Julian Dunkerton, the host behind the lovely No. 38 The Park and No. 131 The Promenade, here.