No. 131, The Promenade

As parents of young children just one night away can feel as reinvigorating as a week’s holiday.

No chubby little fingers poking you in the eye at 6am or Lego bricks lurking round every corner poised to pierce the arch of your foot. No. None of that. Just unadulterated relaxation and grown up chatter. We hoped. Cheltenham seemed the ideal destination for a quick getaway for two reasons. First, it’s less than an hour away and second, it’s just far enough to feel like an escape. Nights away are few and far between, so we’re quite picky. No. 131 which is part of the small, but stylish Lucky Onion group looked great, so we plumped for it.

TRIUMPH OF DESIGN

The Friday night crowd were already having a tipple on the terrace of the grand Regency building when we arrived and we were keen to join in, but first to the room which was nothing but dreamy (number six if you’re planning a trip). An enormous bed was the centrepiece adorned with beautiful blankets and pillows along with a giant TV that rose from its foot. The bathroom was a triumph of design with stunning floor tiles, double basins and an almighty walk in shower and there was a freestanding bath in the bedroom large enough for two. A coffee machine was tucked away in a very clever cupboard, but oddly the wardrobe space wasn’t long enough for a dress. The vibe of the whole place was rustic country as though everything had been chucked together casually, but it really had not. Every inch had been given a lot of thought and it showed. The quality was top notch.

It turns out my favourite gin, Tanqueray, is the house gin and the wine list more than ticked the other half’s boxes. The hotel has its fair share of celeb guests. The day we visited Roger Moore ate lunch there (funny story about that, but not fit for print). Dinner beckoned and we’d been seated in the private dining room which felt a bit naughty. We disappeared into big comfy chairs and sort of hid from the rest of the guests. We loved the menu and got into a right pickle trying to choose what to eat, so called in the waiter for his recommendations which I went with entirely. Firstly, tuna tartare with avocado, sesame and soy which was delicious, but there was way too much avocado even for a lover of the slippery green stuff like me. The crispy pig’s head was less gruesome than it sounded with scrumptious tender shredded meat turned into a sort of croquette. Served with piccalilli and pickled shallots to cut through the richness it was superb. A bottle of San Veran was slipping down a treat and while the private dining room was nice we couldn’t help thinking we’d have enjoyed the buzz of the lively restaurant.

DISH OF THE NIGHT

A perfectly cooked flavour packed whole grouse was beautifully served on a copper plate with a jug of blackberry sauce, bread sauce and game chips. The other half enjoyed sea bass with orange, fennel and pink grapefruit. Fresh, zingy and flavoursome it was a delight and probably our dish of the night. Pudding was a shared molten orange and chocolate pudding with ice cream – seriously rich and grown up, but way too large and an espresso martini for him which hit the spot. In the basement the hotel has a lively bar called Crazy Eights. We thought it would have been rude not to, so off we popped for a nightcap. The DJ was in full flow as was the wine and the crowd spilled out into the garden area for extra dancing space.

Pooped and a bit squiffy we trotted off to our room in the wee hours only to find more indulgence. A flask of hot chocolate and two large cookies were waiting for us which was a lovely touch. The bed was as comfortable as it looked and we had a fantastic night’s sleep followed by a welcome soak in the bath with the hotel’s gorgeous 100 Acre bubble bath. So gorgeous we’ve since bought a candle, so our house smells like a Lucky Onion hotel constantly. We’d chosen to eat breakfast in the room – why waste it? A tray of mini croissants arrived which along with a strong coffee was just what the doctor ordered. We felt thoroughly pampered and refreshed. As we left to retrieve the kids and remove a Lego brick from grandma’s left foot, we sighed one of those sighs that suggests all is well with the world.

No. 131 The Promenade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1NW. Tel: 01242 822939 www.no131.com