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Ever since King George III arrived in 1788 in the hope of curing his ailments with the town’s medicinal spa waters, Cheltenham has attracted a steady stream of visitors. Esteemed schools and colleges, music and literature festivals, world-famous horse racing and a growing gastronomic scene – this elegant town now has something for everybody.
Ideally situated close to the Cotswolds, but only a short drive from Bristol and Wales, Cheltenham has a huge and diverse range of restaurants, pubs and cafés offering visitors a mix of international cuisines, from informal gastropub lunches to fine-dining experiences in Michelin-starred venues such as Le Champignon Sauvage.
Tucked away behind the grand Regency houses of Montpellier, this Victorian corner pub offers a number of real ales from local breweries and good food in the bar or dining room. In winter, grab a table near the open fire or bag a seat in the enclosed garden when the weather is warmer.
A short and pretty drive from Cheltenham itself, this splendid 17th-century hostelry on the market square at Northleach is the quintessential Cotswold inn-with-rooms. Open fires, flagstones, wooden floors and sumptuous furnishings set the scene for lazy Sunday brunches and hearty roasts showcasing local produce.
In a quiet side street close to the bus station and shopping district, this former boozer has been transformed into the sort of on-trend New York-style bar/diner you would expect to find in Soho rather than genteel Cheltenham. Approachable, popular staples such as sliders and steaks for the grown-ups are supplemented by a separate kids’ menu.
In a handsome Georgian terrace opposite the once-famous Royal Well (now the bus station) this basement café majors on local produce for its excellent breakfast menu, which includes organic Cotswold eggs and soldiers, smoked back-bacon butties and full fry-ups, all washed down with loose-leaf teas or good coffee.
Owned by the Hong Kong-based luxury hotel group Swire, this contemporary retreat is housed in a landmark whitewashed Regency villa in Cheltenham’s fashionable Montpellier district. Overseen by acclaimed food writer and chef Simon Hopkinson, the menus in the light and airy restaurant focus on seasonal, modern British cooking founded on top-drawer native ingredients.
Squirreled away in a hotel basement, this busy yet sophisticated subterranean cocktail bar is a short stroll from the famous Promenade. Expertly mixed cocktails using fresh ingredients and premium spirits are complemented by a vibrant bar food menu with dishes built for sharing. Live music at the weekends is an added bonus.
Not long ago celebrating its 25th anniversary (and its 13th year with two Michelin stars), this recently refurbished restaurant is widely acknowledged as one of the finest gastronomic experiences in the UK. Owner-chef David Everitt-Matthias uses cutting-edge culinary techniques to create mesmerising dishes from Cotswold produce, much of it wild and foraged.
Located on a sleepy street in leafy Montpellier, this friendly, well-supported café has been serving the locals for over 10 years. Grab a table or one of the comfortable sofas and enjoy well-made single-estate coffees from Bristol-based Extract roasters, along with freshly baked pastries and cakes or light lunches such as soup or toasties.
Housed within a beautiful converted art-deco cinema, the Daffodil’s open kitchen occupies what was once the stage. Chef Tom Rains’ dishes are classic, unpretentious and created with some fine Cotswold produce. Enjoy a pre-meal drink in the cocktail bar upstairs and time your visit for Monday night’s jazz sessions.
A primrose yellow-painted Regency building just off the high street, this intimate restaurant has quickly made a mark on the local scene since opening in 2012. Head chef Gareth Fulford’s menus showcase exceptional regional produce and Cornish fish; each dish is cooked with care and served by friendly, chatty staff.