After a day exploring Cheltenham in the sun we were craving a cold drink, some great food and a blissful sleep on that unbelievably comfortable bed (check out my earlier post here). We decided to make life easy and to go to the restaurant at No. 38’s sister hotel – No. 131. Now my fear with all of these beautiful hotels is that they’re a classic case of style and no substance. Generally I steer clear of hotel food. It’s usually horribly disappointing, even in the most swanky establishments. Whilst chewing our way through a couple of extortionately-priced gristly steaks at a fancy hotel last year, Mr Kelly and I vowed not to set foot in another hotel restaurant. So you can imagine our relief when No. 131 knocked it out of the park. Most definitely not just prettily-dressed hotels, No. 38 and No. 131 clearly focus as much on their menus as they do on their hand printed wallpapers.
No. 38 very helpfully lay on a complimentary taxi service to No. 131 for anyone who can’t face the twenty minute walk through town (we were feeling incredibly lazy!). The taxi pulled up outside of yet another beautiful town house. It was clear that this is the place to see and be seen in Cheltenham. This city’s glitterati were enjoying a cocktail outside in the last rays of sunshine, whilst music spilt out of the huge windows, immediately giving you that holiday feeling. I’m with you Tatler, this really is “one of the coolest places to eat in England”.
The first thing that struck me was the service. We were shown to a rather noisy table in the bar which, if it’d just been the two of us, we’d have quite enjoyed to sit back and people watch. However, as we were there with my parents and wanted to have a good catch up, it wasn’t quite the vibe we were looking for. I mentioned this to the waitress and within minutes they scooped us up and offered up their beautiful private dining room which happened to be empty for the evening.
With a basket of freshly baked bread and fancy butter, we were off to a good start. It’s as if they knew I was coming.
We kicked things off with a charcuterie board. And of course at the best-dressed hotel, they don’t just throw a few meats on a plate here. That chilli salami was ahhh-mazing.
Then for the main event…we ordered a selection of small and large plates because everything sounded too delicious to try and pluck out only four dishes.
Devilled crab on toast with lime, chilli and mango.
Burrata with smashed peas and grilled focaccia.
Duck liver parfait, served with sourdough and mustard fruits.
Sweet potato fries.
Fillet steak with béarnaise (perfectly tender and not in any way gristly!).
And the showstopper…Tunworth potatoes. For anyone who enjoys a slab of époisses, Tunworth will knock it firmly off your Christmas cheese platter. Pair this incredible cheese with dauphinoise potatoes and you have something very special. I’m driving back to Cheltenham, even if it’s just for a pot of these.
My dad had the duck cassoulet which was so brilliant he’d wolfed it down before I managed to get a snap!
Too stuffed for any dessert, the men ordered a couple of old fashioneds and the ladies opted for a pot of tea. We mentioned how a square of chocolate would go down very well and two delicious bars soon materialised. What did I tell you about that service?
Pleasantly full, we hopped into our return taxi and made the short journey home.
Waiting for us on our bedside table were freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, a flask full of hot milk and a couple of chocolate stirrers. Now this is what makes a hotel extra-special and is why I very rarely book a chain. It’s touches like this that make you want to come back.
This is pretty much my idea of heaven…
And those little touches didn’t stop there. In the morning we opened our door to a tray of warm croissants and fresh orange juice, sitting alongside our paper. Now if Mr Kelly woke me up like that during the week, I wouldn’t have to hit the snooze button five times.
After another soak in that tub (and about a cup full of those incredible 100 Acre bath salts), we made our way down for breakfast number 2.
There’s even a “make your own Bloody Mary station” if you’re not feeling too ropey from the night before.
We decided to stick with the sticky pastries, fresh fruit and homemade granola. There’s really no need to venture to the à la carte menu.
Then again, a couple of eggs and soldiers never go amiss…
Then it was time to pack up and kiss goodbye to those beautiful interiors.
With a goody bag for the road…
I was beyond happy to find a couple of those delicious chocolate bars from the night before nestled inside.
All in all, a pretty good start to a Sunday. No. 38, it was a pleasure. We’ll be back soon.