Cheltenham – cultural centre for the Cotswolds

Cheltenham – cultural centre for the Cotswolds

Cheltenham was specifically designed in its 18th and 19th century heyday as a pleasure health resort for wealthy visitors, the legacy of which is an exceptional range of quality accommodation, restaurants and entertainment in an elegant Regency spa town.

Famous for its Festivals

Cheltenham is the Cultural Centre for the Cotswolds. Culture, and festivals and events in particular, are a huge part of what Cheltenham is all about. The calendar is packed full of a wide range of fantastic events to suit all interests and tastes.

Enjoy the fantastic buzz around the town with the world renowned horse racing and the Cheltenham Gold Cup to the internationally acclaimed four main Cheltenham Festivals of Jazz, Science, Music and Literature.  Poetry, Comedy, Ballroom & Latin Dance add to this eclectic mix.

Conveniently less than a hundred miles from London, Cheltenham provides easy access from all parts of the UK and is an ideal base for touring into the Cotswolds, Stratford upon Avon and Bath. Regency town houses, with intricate ironwork balconies and painted stucco facades, line the historic leafy Promenade, squares and terraces.

I went to this elegant town to enjoy the literature festival, but was so impressed by the beauty of the town itself that it is worth a visit just to enjoy the architecture, gardens and general ethos of this stylish regency town.

High quality is synonymous with the name Cheltenham from its cultural heritage to its famous Ladies college.  This is where to come if you want class and style but don’t worry it is as friendly as it is attractive.


Some of the buildings give rise to the feeling that you are indeed in another age and have come to the town to take the waters or indulge in some cultural pursuits.  The parks and gardens are delightful and a bronze statue of Cheltenham’s famous composer Gustav is sited in Imperial gardens with seven plaques depicting the planets. Holst, who was born in the Pittville area of Cheltenham, wrote nearly 200 compositions.

Another fine piece of sculpture is the Neptune Fountain was built in 1893 and designed by Joseph Hall. The fountain is probably fashioned on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. 1893, Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, is shown with sea horses and tritons.  You could almost imagine yourself in the Italian capital when the sun shines.

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The Promenade gives a great classic shopping experience leading up to the Montpellier & Suffolks area with distinctive individual shops selling everything from antiques to gifts and homewares, with diverse independent smaller traders along the Bath Road.  Well known High Street brands jostle for position in the main shopping area alongside the Regent Arcade and Beechwood Shopping Centre.

Eating and Accommodation

Cafes, bars and restaurants abound and every type of dining experience is available.  The streets are wide and well-lit but as my friend and I walked up and down the High Street we were totally confused by the lack of numbers on buildings and the unhelpful map provided by the Eating Out guide.

I have to confess that I did feel a little uncomfortable with the number of people sleeping rough and hanging around the streets, but I am sure this is something that happens in every large town.

You will be spoilt for choice with a wealth of accommodation from luxury hotels, boutique B&Bs and traditional guest houses to superb self-catering accommodation and serviced apartments.  We stayed in a budget hotel The Big Sleep that was more than adequate and provided an excellent breakfast.

All in all, Cheltenham is an excellent place to visit for a short city break or a longer holiday to take in the beautiful surrounding countryside and as an ideal centre for a Cotswold experience that should be on any travellers itinerary.

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