A drive through the pretty village of Cowley takes you to the entrance of grand Cowley Manor. Located near Cheltenham in the heart of the Cotswolds, the hotel is a boutique establishment with a sumptuous spa.
From the outside, this is a traditional manor house with an Italianate exterior and 55 acres of beautiful grounds. A step inside though, and discerning guests will find that this is no ordinary manor house. Instead of rustic furniture and classic design, Cowley Manor brings an amalgamation of flamboyant interiors and bold style. It exudes a quirky opulence that feels very different from the typical country house hotel.
The property has been operating as a hotel since 2002. It’s perfectly suited to every kind of visitor, whether it’s a romantic getaway, a family-friendly affair, a girls’ day at the spa or a solo retreat. With warm, friendly staff and a laid-back atmosphere, Cowley Manor is a breath of fresh air – if not a rather unusual one.
Situated just a 15 minute drive from refined Cheltenham, Cowley Manor is the perfect base for exploring the Cotswolds. It strikes the perfect balance of being close to a thriving town with the soothing feel of being in the middle of nowhere.
Cowley itself brings the classic Cotswolds village look with its chocolate-box cottages and homely pubs. There is plenty of countryside to explore nearby and wellies are provided by the hotel for doing just that. The grounds of the hotel themselves are well worth a wander, with its lakes, water features, and resident swans.
Step into the reception area and you’re greeted with a lime green ceiling and modern art. This leads onto the games room where a snooker table is surrounded by decadent leather walls. In the bar area, there’s a series of cartoon-like animal trophies – an ironic tribute to real-life taxidermy. Above the fireplace is mounted a rotund wooden pig and to the right a zebra’s bottom sits nonchalantly on the wall.
Underneath lies cowhide window seats for another quirky animal tribute. The rest of the hotel follows a similar suit of jazzy decor and funky aesthetics. It may not be to everyone’s taste but it certainly sets itself apart from other more traditional country house hotels.
Cowley Manor has 31 bedrooms, with 15 in the main house and 16 in the converted stable block. Bedrooms follow a similar theme with bold colours and eclectic design. There are a range of rooms to choose from for different budgets. I particularly love the fun simplicity of the room names: Good, Better, Great, Exceptional, Outstanding, Marvellous, and The Best. There are also family rooms and two pet-friendly rooms for your furry friends to enjoy.
All rooms are extremely spacious and offer convenient modern touches like Google Chromecast, Bluetooth speakers and Blu-ray players. I stayed in a Marvellous Room and it was, well, quite marvellous. There was a generously sized bed, an inviting sofa adorned with colourful cushions, and bright walls. The bathroom had a double sink, spacious shower, and an even bigger bath – with views out the window to the grounds
My favourite part of the room was the expansive balcony, complete with sun loungers and table & chairs. It offered stunning views over the grounds, where the picturesque lake was framed by golden red and yellow trees. Waking up in the morning to a spectacualr sunrise, chirping birds, and the fresh air of the countryside was the perfect remedy.
Food & drink
The hotel restaurant serves brasserie style dishes with an innovative edge. Food is locally sourced and sustainable, so you can be sure of fresh ingredients. The lunch menu offers a range of dishes, from light nibbles and pizzas to more sizeable dishes. A special shoutout to the chef for kindly whipping up some chilly oil for me to dunk my pizza crusts in!
Dinner is a cosy, candlelit affair with a selection of deligtful dishes to choose from. Meat-lovers will enjoy the venison bresaola or smoked partridge to start, followed by slow roasted shoulder of lamb or sirloin steak for main. Fish fiends or vegetarians can drool over the scallops to start then the market fish or hand cut pasta for main. Finish with an array of delectable desserts or board of locally sourced cheeses.
Breakfast consists of an abundant continental spread of cereals, fruit, pastries, and more. Cooked options are available too, ranging from a Full English to smashed avocado. Afternoon tea is also available from 14:30-16:00.
The multi award-winning C-Side Spa is the real jewel in the crown at Cowley Manor. It is undoubtedly one of the best spas in the Cotswolds. Housed in a contemporary building with a striking design, it is a luxurious sanctuary. Guests can enjoy a stuninng indoor pool or the heated outdoor pool, as well as a sauna and steam room.
There are four treatment rooms where guests can enjoy indulgent tratments. Designed exclusively for the C-Side Spa, you won’t find these treatments elsewhere. All products are natural and organic. If you’re feeling lively, there is a well equipped gym and fitness classes.
Cowley Manor is a fun and unique luxury hotel in the Cotswolds. As long as you don’t go expecting all the classic, elegant interiors of a typical country house hotel, you will be treated to a wonderfully idiosyncratic place with all its airs and graces in the right places.
This review has been written following a complimentary press stay but all opinions are my own. A huge thank you to the lovely staff at the hotel for having me.
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