Fancy a mini getaway with the kids before the hustle and bustle of Christmas really sets in? Discover where to eat, sleep and visit en famille for a fun-filled 48 hours in this elegant spa town
DO: Horse racing at The Open
Avoid the Gold Cup in March – when Cheltenham turns into one big tipsy party – and opt for The Open instead. Running from Friday 11 to Sunday 13 November, the dedicated family day on Sunday will keep everyone happy. There are activities in the Family Fun Zone, where you can meet Paw Patrol‘s Chase and Marshall, or take part in face painting, rosette making and balloon modelling. There’s even a special colouring-in section and a chance for little ones to pet miniature Shetland ponies and ducks. In the meantime, parents can take advantage of the six races of the day – the only races to take place on a Sunday all year at Cheltenham – with a bet or two.
Adults from £25 when booked in advance; under-18s go free.
EAT: Simpsons Fish & Chips
If your horse didn’t come in (or even if it did!) then make the award-winning fish and chips at Simpsons your next stop. This family-run restaurant was voted best fish and chip shop in Britain in the 2016 National Fish & Chip Awards (yep, that’s a real thing…) and it’s not difficult to see why. With fish sourced from Scotland, Iceland and Norway from sustainable stocks, and British spuds with no nasty ingredients, it’s obvious this eatery is passionate about its plaice. Plus, the retro red, white and blue themed restaurant is buggy and breastfeeding friendly.
SLEEP: No.38 The Park
With all the luxury of a hotel combined with the convenience of home, No.38 The Park really is something special. The 13-roomed Georgian townhouse can be hired on a per-room basis, or privately for larger families. As it’s just a short drive from the racecourse, it’s a convenient choice for visiting The Open.
From the sweeping staircase to the grand, freestanding baths, every inch of this place is Instagrammable. There’s a drawing room, dining room and courtyard garden for families to take advantage of, all stamped with the keen eye of owner and interior designer Georgie Pearman.
If your little ones are prone to cramming themselves into bed with you every morning, you won’t even notice in these super king-sized beds. Complimentary baby cots are also supplied, and there are folding Z beds for those under 12.
Bedtime here is a magical experience for children, as you discover hot chocolate and homemade cookies left enticingly on your bedside table. Fancy something stronger? The honesty bar downstairs is filled to the brim with whiskies, champagne, spirits and locally produced cider and ales, and if a night to yourselves is needed, babysitting services are readily available. For an extra £20, you could even bring your pooch, too – they’ll be pampered with their own special bed, bowl and treats.
From £120 per room, per night.
DO: Wander along Suffolk Parade
Known as the ‘Notting Hill’ of Cheltenham, this artistic neighbourhood is bursting with small bistros, bars, galleries and shops. Independent book shop, The Suffolk Anthology has a particularly good children’s section, while kid-friendly urban teahouse Tea at 10 has 35 different teas to choose from, plus tasty lunchtime treats such as vegan chocolate cake.
Mamas might want to treat themselves to something from British handbag designer Harriet Sanders‘ store, before wandering down to the Montpellier and Promenade shopping areas, which feature Whistles, Joules and House of Fraser.
EAT: The Wheatsheaf
Set in a traditional 17th century coaching inn, a short drive from No.38 (its sister site), The Wheatsheaf is located in the picturesque Cotswold village of Northleach. It serves up a rustic menu of local and seasonal produce in a dining room that mixes traditional wooden tables and historic portraits with pop-art pictures of Kate Moss – this is the land of the Chipping Norton set, after all.
Adults can tuck into comforting mains like ox cheek, bacon and mushroom pie with creamed potato and heritage carrots, or pork fillet schnitzel with parmentier potatoes, fried egg and caper butter (both £17).
Be sure to ask for a space in the back bar – it’s more relaxed than the main dining room if you have little ones in tow. There are toys and sofas in The Snug, too, as well as a dedicated children’s menu.
Words: Eva Caiden