Sometimes, you just need to get away, even if it’s only for one night. The day before Christmas Eve, I traveled to Cheltenham in Gloucestershire to stay at No. 131, a restaurant and bar with 11 bedrooms, attentive and kind staff, great food, and the best bathtub I’ve ever had the pleasure of soaking in.
There are three types of rooms: “Cosy”, “Very Good”, and “Excellent”. Prices increase according to which room you book, and vary depending on the time of year. When I arrived, a member of staff checked me in and informed me that I’d been upgraded to a “Very Good” room from a “Cosy” one. I’d been excited about staying at No. 131 ever since I made the booking, but when I saw my room, I squealed (after the super nice woman who showed me to my room had gone, obvi). It was so. Pretty.
I stood there for maybe 5 seconds, drooling, before racing all over the room to take pictures of everything. Yes, the bathtub is in the bedroom. It was the most beautiful, insanely deep tub I’ve ever seen. I sat in it with my clothes on and felt like I was in a space ship. I actually giggled. I ran into the bathroom, which was just as nice as everything else. I looked out of the window in front of the tub and got a view of the street out front. On the bed, there was a hot water bottle, and an envelope with my name on it.
Inside the envelope was a lovely note from the management welcoming me to No. 131 and wishing me a pleasant stay. Boom. I was completely sold. Upon opening the wardrobe, I found more to delight and amuse. In addition to a place to hang my coat, there was a cute little tea set, a selection of teas, coffee, sugar, and a mini bar.
I had a few hours before my dinner reservation, so I made some tea, poured myself some water from the large bottle they’d left for me, put on my pyjamas, and relaxed in the squishy comfort of my bed with the TV on.
Right before dinner, I ventured down to the basement bar. Like the rest of the building, it’s lovely, but since the lights were dim (and since I was enjoying myself so much) I didn’t get any pictures of it. It was chilly outside (December, duh) but I sat in their outdoor area with my pint anyway. It’s a cool atmosphere. Groups of friends were out there laughing beneath the heaters. I sipped my beer and watched the world go by a bit before heading back inside.
I reentered the building from the front so I could take a couple of snaps.
I had dinner in another dimly lit and beautiful space. Several groups were happily chatting away around me. I ordered the devilled crab on toast as my starter, the braised ox cheek with horseradish mash as my main, and an autumn fruit crumble for dessert.
It was a delicious dinner, and I left the restaurant stuffed.
Among the extra services offered that you may recognize (like in-room massage) there are unique complimentary ones which add to No 131’s already considerable charm. The woman who showed me to my room gave me the option of accepting these services, one of which I enjoyed after dinner. While you are having dinner in the restaurant, a member of staff will leave cookies, and hot milk in a thermos with chocolate stirrers in your room so you can make hot chocolate. You better believe I took them up on it.
Unfortunately, since I’d already stuffed myself with food downstairs, I couldn’t manage the hot chocolate AND both cookies, but I made a good go of it.
Before bed, I luxuriated in a nice looooooong bath in that glorious tub, which was perfectly positioned so I could watch CSI and the first episode of Sherlock as I sank into the bubbles. An interesting thing about No. 131 and the other venues in The Lucky Onion group is that all food and products are locally sourced, including the organic bath products by the brand 100 Acres, based in the Cotswolds.
After my bath, I slept well…until the fire alarm went off. Apparently the fireplaces cause that from time to time. Continental breakfast is available, but you also have the option of having pastries and juice left at your door in the morning to enjoy at your leisure as an alternative, also complimentary. Why not? I went for it. If given the choice, I’ll always take more sleep and bumming around the room in my pjs to getting dressed and dealing with other humans in the morning. Maybe it’s the crotchety grandma in me. *Shrug*
My stay at No. 131 was so relaxing. It really made me see the value in taking a bit of time away from the city. I can’t wait to go back and take advantage of more of their offerings. I also hope to do some exploring around Cheltenham next time.
What’s the best overnight trip you’ve taken?
RIP David Bowie, you king, you.