Cheltenham, on the western edge of the Cotswolds and the region’s major town, owes its air of gracious refinement to its heyday as a spa resort during the 18th century. At that time, it rivalled Bath as the place for ailing aristocrats to recuperate, and it stills boast many graceful Regency buildings and manicured squares. These days, however, it’s better known for its racecourse, where the upper classes still arrive in droves for the mid-March Cheltenham Cup.
Cheltenham’s excellent hotel and restaurant offerings make it a much more appealing base than Gloucester (12 miles west), but in the end this mid-tier town is unlikely to be the highlight of your trip.
Central Cheltenham extends around the grand tree-lined Promenade, with the fashionable Montpellier neighbourhood at its southern end.