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Introducing Cheltenham

Cheltenham retains an air of gracious refinement left over from its heyday as a spa resort in the 18th century. At the time, it rivalled Bath as the place for sick rich people to go, and today it still has many Regency buildings and manicured squares. These days, however, it's best known for its racecourse (www.cheltenham.co.uk), which in mid-March attracts up to 40,000 people for one of England's premier steeplechase events.

Cheltenham's excellent accommodation and restaurants make it a more appealing base to the region than the county town of Gloucester, but this mid-tier city is unlikely to be the highlight of your trip.