Country pile with lashings of funky urban pizzazz

COWLEY MANOR IS FOR THOSE who love their country dished up with plenty of urban pizzazz. Outside, Cotswold country-pile stone grandeur and 55 acres of landscaped grounds complete with lakes and Victorian cascades are every bit the setting for a lush period drama.

Inside, metropolitan surrounds tell a wickedly different tale. Trad goes out of the window inside this grand Italianate manor set in idyllic English country parkland.

Cowley Manor’s winning combo of hip and heritage mixes classic settings with flamboyant modern design. Forget the chintz and draughty windows of Georgian piles in the shires, and walk into a world of cowhide chairs, glossy bathrooms, witty sculptures and sleek townie technics.

Split between the mansion and the stable block, bedrooms come with custom-made designer furniture and fabrics, boldly coloured feature walls, warm wood floors and rattan carpets. Trademark eye-opening bathrooms have outsize shower heads and indecently big baths, while the gadget quota includes wi-fi, iPod dock  and a state-of-the-art Loewe TV complete with PlayStation.

Hit the spot
Five miles from Cheltenham.

The Best room really is the best – a four-poster bed, double bath and private terrace with views.  We also loved the split-level rooms in the stable block, and the balconied Exceptional rooms. 

Be savvy
It’s no place for chintz lovers.

Be smitten
Hip retreat for stressed urbanites.

Split-level Suites

Jauntily classed as Good, Great, Better, Exceptional and Best, bedrooms vary in size, shape and layout. Some are split-level, some have a private terrace or an open-plan sitting room, while at least one has a bathtub at the bottom of the bed. All are light and spacious, with wall-mounted CD players, and a well-stocked minibar.

Who stays? Metropolitan A-listers, naturally. Hugh Grant, Kate Moss and others have bedded down here.

Bliss out in Cowley Manor’s C-side spa, built into a hillside. You’ll find two gorgeous pools – one indoor, one outdoor – and all the trimmings, plus a full treatment list and gym.

There’s also a funky bar where you can sip a cocktail, watch the sunset or get toasty by the fire, and a fabulous suntrap terrace with glorious views over the Grade II listed grounds where you can just chill with a book.

This hip retreat for stressed urbanites also scores on the food front. Tuck into modishly  done comfort food – bangers and mash, fish and chips or cottage pie – in Cowley Manor’s restaurant, or devour a picnic lunch in those picture-worthy grounds on summer days.

Cowley Manor was reviewed for Room for Romance by Holly Morgan



If you've over-indulged at during the Festive Season, or just wish to prolong the holiday then recover at Cowley Manor

Start the new year in style by booking a two night mid-week stay at Cowley
Manor and receive a free and super healthy (as well as delicious) lunch from the C-Side spa menu every day, as well as a one hour spa treatment of your choice. As if this wasn't enough there is a complimentary room upgrade.

*Check availability and book by phone: +44 (0)1225 42 88 88

Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.

Dining in
Fusing traditional style with contemporary cool, Cowley Manor's oak panelled restaurant is the epitome of stately chic – just the setting for culinary treats with a decidedly British slant. Critically acclaimed chef and restaurateur (of The Ivy and Le Caprice fame) Mark Hix has joined forces with Cowley's head chef Robin Smith to create the ultimate British menus.

Dishes aim to celebrate the best of the season's produce, with winners such as  fried duck egg with brown shrimps and samphire, beef flank and oyster pie,  whole Cornish John Dory and Perry jelly with elderflower icecream.

Dining out
The Royal Well Tavern in Cheltenham (five miles) mixes English pub charm with French bistro style, while nearby Champignon Sauvage brags the best French cooking this side of the Channel.


The Restaurant at Cowley Manor

What’s cooking?
Modern British treats made with the best ingredients, such as grilled Scottish halibut with samphire, lemon and capers, or Barnsley lamb chops with grilled kidney.

Top table?
Grab a window seat with views over the lake and gardens.

See & Do
Hang out poolside or in the spa, stroll through the 55 acres of grounds (just borrow a pair of wellington boots) or soak up the views on the suntrap terrace. Cheltenham has plenty of cafes and shops to explore, and you can escape the bustle in leafy Montpellier Gardens.

Have a wander through the trees of Westonbirt Arboretum (magical in autumn, or in winter with the Christmas  lights), or walk through the rolling grounds of Dyrham Park.

Cowley Manor Village Shop is right on your doorstep, and brim-full with designer fashion and chic beauty products. Check out Daylesford Organic in Cheltenham for locally farmed produce to take home. 

De-stress, de-tox and relax in Cowley Manor’s award-winning C-Side spa, where holistic treatments range from massages and wraps to facials using Cowley’s own range of aromatherapy products. Try the utterly spoiling Cloud 9 signature treatment – aromatherapy, massage, reflexology and Qi energy balancing that’s designed to leave you blissed out.

Splash and swim in the outdoor and indoor pools, or work up a sweat in the sauna, steam room and gym.

After dark
Nights in? Sip a cocktail in the bar, play billiards or thrash each other on the Monopoly board. Nights out? Montpellier in Cheltenham has plenty of bars and clubs – among them Monty’s, J’s Vodka Bar and Montpellier Wine Bar.

The glitterati of literati pitch up in force for the Cheltenham Literature festival.

November – March
Back a winner at the Cheltenham races.  – just be sure to book months ahead for the Festival and Gold Cup week in March.

See the stars take to the stage at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

Cowley, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 9NL

There is plenty of free guest parking.

Cheltenham Spa station – 25 minutes.

GBP 30 from the station.

Bristol – one hour; or London Heathrow – 60-80 minutes. Cowley Manor has a helipad, so you can arrive in style.

Rooms and suites

30 rooms – named from Good to Best to suit most budgets.

Special features
Spacious rooms have vibrant colours, custom-made contemporary furniture, iPod docks, plasma TV, a CD and DVD player, plus a well stocked minibar.

The Best room is a giant terrace suite, while Exceptional rooms have a sitting room and private balcony. You can cool off in the indoor/outdoor pools, work out in the gym and arrive in style on the helipad.


Rates guide
GBP 250-475

Open all year



Minimum night stay?
Two nights over weekends

Full English breakfast is served until 11am.

Room service
Available 24 hours a day.

Welcome. There’s a playroom (unsupervised) and babysitting service, plus a special kid’s menu.

Welcome in two dog friendly rooms, for GBP 25 a night.

Air conditioning

Wedding license?
Yes. Cowley Manor has the stunning little Norman church of St Mary's in its grounds, seating up to 60 guests. As for the reception, up to 100 guests can be catered for, though smaller, more intimate wedding breakfasts for groups of 10-14 can also be arranged in the hotel's private dining room. Larger weddings are based on exclusive use of the property.


Room for Romance Extra

Guests receive a bottle of champagne



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