Those searching for the best in boutique luxury need look no further than No 131, a newly-opened restaurant with rooms in the heart of historic Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The hotel is set in a classic Grade II”Listed Georgian property, which – after standing derelict for seven years – has been restored to its former glory. Katie Sherry travelled to Cheltenham to experience the charm of No 131 first hand.
No 131 is part of The Lucky Onion’s portfolio of hospitality venues, joining the likes of well-loved establishments such as The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach; The Tavern, Cheltenham; and The Chequers, Churchill. Each venue is individual, and owners Sam and Georgie Pearman – who took complete control over the refurbishment of No 131 – have ensured that their latest project is the grandest yet.
“The first thing that stands out when entering the space is its refined aesthetic, yet look closer and you begin to notice the quality details – the thick, draped curtains; the solid-wood parquet flooring; the reconditioned antique radiators”
The grandeur of the hotel’s facade is replicated in the interior, creating a sense of luxury throughout the property. This feeling of refinement, however, does not compromise on comfort. A warm welcome awaited us at reception, and after a few clarifications we were handed our key and led up the spiral staircase to our spacious, light-filled and luxuriously-appointed room on the first floor.
Each of the 11 guest rooms has been individually decorated, and – although they differ in terms of size, which is reflected in the room rate – they all benefit from the same Georgian-style decor, quality furnishings and modern comforts.
The first thing that stands out when entering the space is its refined aesthetic, yet look closer and you begin to notice the quality details – the thick, draped curtains; the solid-wood parquet flooring; the reconditioned antique radiators.
One of the main focal points of the bedroom is the generous Hypnos bed, which is covered in luxurious Egyptian cotton linens from Three Thieving Magpies, making for a truly peaceful and comfortable night’s sleep.
A range of home comforts is to hand, including hot water bottles with hand-knitted woollen covers; Loewe TVs featuring the complete Sky entertainment package; and tea and Nespresso coffee facilities.
The bathroom is a haven of refined relaxation, mixing modern conveniences with antique-style luxury. As with the rest of the refurbishment, attention to detail is key here -“from the quality of the fixtures and fittings to the classic colour scheme.
Each bathroom features drench showers, bathtubs (some of which are refurbished Rogeat Lyon models dating back to 1875), or – for those after the ultimate in bathing luxury – both. The quality of the amenities is complemented by the 100 Acres toiletries on offer, which proved a delight to use. Made in England from essential oils derived from herbs, flowers and medicinal plants, the toiletries are available for purchase should guests wish to continue the spa-like experience at home.
Once refreshed, we headed down to Crazy Eights, the hotel’s adjoining bar and restaurant. Spanning two floors, the space embodies the overall ambiance of the hotel by being both elegant and comfortable. The upper floor is home to a formal dining space, a grand bar, a small library, a private dining room and a comfortable lounge.
Those seeking a more informal dining experience, meanwhile, are free to explore the downstairs area, which features an outside courtyard, two private dining rooms, an orangery bar and games room.
On arrival, we were promptly led to the bar and presented with extensive cocktail menus featuring options to suit any palette – whether a sweet, sour or fizzy concoction is preferred.
The food menu is just as carefully-considered, focusing on prime cuts of meat, fresh seafood and organic vegetables – all of which are sourced locally where possible. The meals are served generously portioned, delicately flavoured, and – following a quick discussion with the sommelier – paired with their ideal wine accompaniment.
In the morning we were greeted with a glass of freshly-squeezed juice and a pastry outside our door before heading downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast. With continental and cooked options available – including a substantial full English – the breakfast menu is as focused on the quality of ingredients and taste as its dinner counterpart.
All in all, the visit to No 131 was an experience I will remember for a long time to come, and one I would be thrilled to repeat in the future. Whether guests are visiting for the renowned Cheltenham Gold Cup, one of the town’s cultural festivals, or simply to immerse themselves in the quality shopping on offer, No 131 is certain to be one of the main talking points of their stay.