It’s been a few years since my mum and I went on a mini break so when the chance came for us to spend 24 hours in Cheltenham with nothing to do other than eating, chatting and relaxing, we both got out our diaries to agree on a date. I can get to Cheltenham really easily and quickly by train from Birmingham New Street station and mum could drive from Devon on the M5. So although it’s not quite halfway between us, the location would work well for us both.
After meeting mum at the train station and popping into Cheltenham for a quick lunch, we headed to the Hilton DoubleTree. There was plenty of parking and there were signs up to check in before unloading the car. It made more sense once we entered the hotel and realised that there were rooms in different areas of the hotel, so it would be less hassle to find out which part of the hotel we were staying in before dragging suitcases around with us.
Obviously on check in, they gave us the signature DoubleTree cookies. Sadly I couldn’t eat mine as it has dairy so mum had a double cookie welcome instead!
We stayed in a standard twin with a view of the garden. There was plenty of natural light from windows and the room was really spacious. I really loved the decor in the room, which had all the things that I would usually expect from a hotel room. Two comfy beds, a dressing table, big mirrors as well as tea and coffee making facilities and a hairdryer.
The twin beds were lovely and comfortable with crisp white bedding. There is something about good hotel bedding that makes a huge difference to add some luxury to a stay. I do dream of having high thread count hotel style bedding at home and one day when the husband and I move I will try to work that into our budget. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy it whilst I can when I stay in lovely places.
Mum and I did head to the spa for a relaxing afternoon to catch up. We made our way from the hotel room through to the spa area and stashed our things into the changing room locker before heading to explore the facilities. As well as a gym, which we didn’t try out, the Hilton DoubleTree in Cheltenham has a pool, a hot tub, a sauna and a steam room. There are also some loungers for relaxing in and reading if that takes your fancy.
I can’t swim but with my bad back, it was worth a paddle in the water to help stretch out my limbs and take a bit of pressure off my back. I found spending a bit of time in the sauna and the hot tub also helped ease my strained back muscles too. There is something about heat and being forced to take time away from screens and work that helps with the whole relaxation process though. I was pleasantly surprised to see how busy the facilities were for a Sunday afternoon. It was lovely though as it meant that there was some atmosphere and we didn’t feel that it was too quiet and people would be eavesdropping on our conversation.
After relaxing in the spa, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner at a leisurely pace. Mum and I had a lot to catch up on so it was nice to have some peace and quiet in our room. With plenty of space and mirrors in the room, it was easy for us to spread out when getting ready without having to wait for each other.
Then we headed to the Lakeside restaurant in the hotel for dinner. I had informed the restaurant of my dietary requirements so they were aware in advance. As always, I make the server aware of my dietary requirements when I order. I don’t like any uncertainty or taking risks as both dairy and fruit can be a hidden ingredient in food and drink. The server seemed to deal with it all with ease and had read the notes on my booking so knew that there would have to be some double checking with the kitchen when it came to my meal.
For dinner, I enjoyed a duck salad followed by a chicken curry. The salad for the starter was lovely. The duck was beautifully sweet, soft and rich without being too overpowering. I thought it went well with the sweet apple and the crisp, fresh salad leaves. A light but satisfying starter that didn’t fill me up too much for the meal ahead.
The chicken curry came on recommendation from our server and I have to thank them as it was delicious. And completely dairy-free, which was wonderful as it wasn’t a compromise. My main was a generous portion and I couldn’t finish it despite the light starter that I had. So I ended my meal with some peppermint tea.
My mum enjoyed the duck salad starter too. Mum’s main course of Cotswold lamb was full of flavour and cooked well. Though she did remark that a more colourful array of vegetables would have been welcome to help balance the richness of the meat and sauce.
Overall the restaurant menu was pretty good for a hotel restaurant and after chatting to the server, I thought that the kitchen seemed well equipped to handle my dietary requirements. And from looking at other diners in the restaurant that evening, there was a mix of clientele from individuals through to families and a hen party. So I think it’s fair to say that the restaurant seems to be pretty accommodating for a variety hotel guests.
After a restful night’s sleep, it was time for breakfast. This was a pretty standard affair. Teas and coffees are served at the table but everything else is a buffet. There is cereal, fruit, toast and the usual hot and cold selection. It was easiest to have a hot selection breakfast for me as that was simply to get dairy-free. Oddly there were no vegan options or non-dairy milk available (I did ask). I think that this is something that should be worked on as it wouldn’t be difficult or costly to introduce. And for a hotel like the Hilton DoubleTree, I would hope that this is something that they consider across the chain.
Our stay in Cheltenham was concluded with a walk around the shops before heading home. It was nice to have everything that we needed on site at the hotel so we didn’t have to venture far if we didn’t want to. But Cheltenham is a lovely city and worth taking the time to visit. I headed home by train to Birmingham, which gets me there in under an hour and is good value when tickets are booked in advance.
I had a lovely time with my mum in Cheltenham and we’ve already started making plans for our next trip away together. We really shouldn’t leave it so long between our trips. We just need to think of where we can go next time.
Hilton DoubleTree, Cirencester Rd, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham GL53 8EA. Tel: 01242 222021
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