Where to eat
Starting right at the centre of town, The Tavern is a laid-back spot for fancy burgers, wings and salad bowls washed down with a signature house cocktail.
A 15-minute yomp across Montpellier Gardens will take you to The Daffodil, a restaurant in a converted 1920s cinema which hosts live jazz shows in its Art Deco environs. Just a couple of minutes around the corner, towards the stately buildings of Cheltenham College, there’s Le Champignon Sauvage – a two-Michelin-starred restaurant that’s celebrating 30 years of its endlessly changing menu this year.
For a south-Asian take on fine dining, try Prithvi, a high-end Indian bistro – or, for something with fewer frills, head to Sri Lankan street-food outpost The Coconut Tree, which you’ll find on the opposite side of town, located about two blocks away from The Brewery Quarter.
The best places to drink
For floor-to-ceiling shelves of whisky, wine and tons of other tipples overlooking the trendy Montpellier Gardens on the town centre’s western edge, try John Gordons. Meanwhile, a little further up the hill near Montpellier Terrace, The Beehive is a classic town pub that’s loved by locals for its strong supply of real ale. Back in the centre, Croft & Jones Trading Co is a secret drinking den in the basement of The Clarence Social, which goes big on classy cocktails and glimmering interiors.
Where to stay
Right on the town’s central promenade, No 131 is a modernised 11-room Georgian townhouse that’ll please traditionalists and hipsters alike. Alternatively, a 15-minute drive out of town towards Cirencester is Cowley Manor, which will provide you with contemporary Cotswold chill and serenity, without taking away your easy access to the town or making you feel like you’re way out in the sticks.
What to do
The Wilson museum is worth a visit for art, natural history and classic costume textile exhibits, but Cheltenham really comes into its own as a festival town. Visit in April and May for the Jazz Festival, early June for the Science Festival, early July for the Music Festival and October for the Literature Festival – each of which see tons of performances and talks all over the town.
GWR offers return tickets to Cheltenham Spa from £52.40.