Multiple horses racing at a stadium
21 March 2015

Your Guide to Cheltenham Festival…

So you’re thinking about heading to Cheltenham Festival this year, no doubt you’ll have already booked your tickets, accommodation and transport, but here’s some local tips just in case or to help you prep for 2016 (you can never be too prepared).

Cheltenham Festival is quite simply the highlight of the National Hunt season in the UK and Ireland, so as you can imagine every year it’s packed full of punters raring to spend and drink a plenty, all in the name of horse racing. The Festival covers races for every type of horse whether it be for the Juveniles in the Champion Bumper or the Mares in the David Nicholson Hurdle, there’s something for everyone.

Where to lay your head

Cheltenham is not short of accommodation, so here are a few of our recommendations. How about Ellenborough Park for those of you who can flash the cash for that VIP, luxury experience including chauffeur driven Range Rovers on race day, a spa and their very own fine dining restaurant. Or if it’s just the two of you heading to the races, we’d recommend trying Strozzi Palace Boutique Suites with everything you’ll need after a long day punting and from £99 per night, it’s a no brainer. Or stay close to the action at The Queens overlooking the Imperial Gardens and on the famous Promenade. This fashionable regency hotel also has the Napier Restaurant and Conservatory, the aptly named Gold Cup Bar and Lounge. Our final recommendation is something a bit different, how about an apartment for that home from home feel, there are some fantastic places to try, we use Central Apartments Cheltenham or Owner’s Direct.

Cheltenham 4
The Queens Hotel, Cheltenham

Where to nosh

For dinner if you’re looking for something a bit different, we’d recommend The Daffodil, which was originally a purpose built picture house and has recently opened its door to BBC1 for the filming of ‘Sherlock’, but book in advance if you’re a large party. For brunch and for kick-starting your day, head to Montpellier Wine Bar, this is our firm favourite with a fantastic race-inspired brunch menu (Paddy Power menu) and has always been huge hit with everyone, young to the young at heart. Also head here after the races for a great atmosphere, full of locals and race-goers.

Other ideas: Bistro Du Vin, Montpellier Chapter for dinner and Curious Café and Moka for breakfast/brunch. All tried and tested and our personal recommendations.

A good tipple!

If cocktails are your tipple of choice, we’d definitely recommend heading to the Mai Tai cocktail lounge, located on the promenade with a ‘cool’ vibe and an Asian influence (try their signature Mai Tai cocktail). Or maybe you’d prefer a wine or whisky with experts on hand to guide you in the right direction, if that’s the case head straight for John Gordon’s on the promenade, a personal favourite and ideal for those searching a sophisticated, cozy drink after a day at the races. Our final recommendation is The Retreat, tucked away in Montpellier, not far from Imperial Gardens. It’s a local’s haunt, with a wide selection of drinks to suit any tipple of choice.

Cheltenham 6

Best places to party

If you’re keen to get your glad rags and dancing shoes out, head to Subtone, a firm favourite with lots of rooms and choices of music to choose from, depending on your mood. Or make your way to Thirteen Degrees which is a top choice during the races as it’s one of the most exclusive boutique nightspots and always plays great music. Finally Kukui, an exotic tiki club with a ridiculously long list of amazing cocktails. Get set for a great night!

There’s more than just the city?

Cheltenham is in the Cotswolds, so there are plenty of country pubs with roaring fires, picturesque little villages and scenic walks. If you’re looking at extending your stay or just spending a day venturing out of Cheltenham, why not try Bourton-on-Water for a picturesque village, Gloucester Quays for designer outlet shopping or take a walk up Cleeve Hill for incredible views over Cheltenham. Make a weekend of it!
View from Cleeve Hill

Cheltenham 3
Last minute tips;

  • If you’re just heading to the races for the day and heading home that night, the last train to London Paddington leaves at 22.01 which gives you time after the last race for dinner and a few drinks. Ideal, and it saves you the cost of a pricey hotel room
  • This isn’t Ascot ladies and it isn’t June, so wrap up warm with coats, gloves and scarves. Add a bit of fur for glamour and warmth
  • Another one for the ladies, heel stoppers will prevent heels from sinking into grass which is a must for keeping your heels in tip top condition.

To experience Cheltenham Festival for yourself, view our Cheltenham hospitality packages here.
Written by Kate Trueman, Marketing Co-ordinator

Written By Tom