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Published on Friday, August 23, 2019

An historic hotel that's surprisingly child and dog-friendly

Linsey McNeill and her husband enjoyed a romantic weekend at the recently refurbished family-owned Tewkesbury Park Hotel, Gloucestershire - but she left wishing they'd been a threesome.

Location: You'll find Tewkesbury Park between Bristol and Birmingham, just off the M5 and only a short drive from Regency Cheltenham, right on the edge of the Cotswolds. Sitting on a hill, surrounded by parkland, the hotel has stunning views of the Malvern Hills. You can walk from the hotel into the centre of historic Tewkesbury, scene of one of the decisive battles of the War of the Roses in 1471 - indeed 'Bloody Meadow', where hundreds died, is right at the end of the hotel's driveway - and many of the town's historic and modern buildings display banners from the houses that fought in the Battle of Tewkesbury, giving it something of a Game of Thrones vibe. There's also an impress abbey, the burial site of the Prince of Wales who was killed in the Battle of Tewkesbury, and you can walk around Severn Ham, a meadow that hosted horse races long before Cheltenham.

First impressions: You sweep up to the hotel via a very long drive that bisects its well-groomed 18-hole golf course. The hotel itself is an impressive late 18th century building, to which a new wing has been added to create 93 bedrooms in total.

The bright, modern lobby is such a sharp contrast to the historic exterior of the hotel that it almost feels like you've stepped into the wrong place. The light wood floors, mid-blue walls and fresh fabrics used on the chairs, plus the metal hexagonal tables and sloped glass ceiling that floods the lobby with light give it a less formal, much more casual vibe than you'd expect from the outside.

There are just two reception desks on one side and an open piano lounge on the other, where I noticed quite a few couples with their dogs, one of which was spread-eagled on a blanket! He looked so content - as did all the other pooches - that I wished I'd brought one too.

Up a few stairs there is an open bar; again, it's been furnished with modern, slightly jazzy fabrics (it felt a little like stepping into Oliver Bonas) and beyond that another lounge area that leads into the hotel's only restaurant, half of which is housed in a conservatory, the other half has windows overlooking the golf course.

Margret of Anjou suite

Rooms: We were treated to the grandly-named King Edward IV suite, one of nine historic suites added as part of the £10 million renovation, only completed last year. It has a slipper bath, which is simply gorgeous, as is the rest of the room, which has stunning views too. It includes a king-size bed (of course), a flat-screen TV, comfy sofa, writing desk, a dressing area, and that fabulous bathroom, which also has a walk-in shower.

There are also coffee and tea-making facilities, fresh milk in the fridge, and bathrobes and slippers. A small niggle: the door of the chest housing the mini bar was crooked and wouldn't close, a small First World problem I know, but one that guests paying top dollar would expect to be fixed. Everything else though was just so.

I noticed from the guest book in the room that several of the previous guests had been upgraded to this suite when checking in, which would be a lovely surprise for your clients who'd book a standard room!

Six of the new suites, like the King Edward IV, fall into the top-notch 'Opulence' category and three are labelled 'Indulgence'. They're all  in the original manor house, which was totally overhaulded as part of the renovation and still has a box-fresh feel. The modern wing houses the standard rooms, which have also been refurbished.

Wining and dining: The hotel bar serves light lunches, and you can get snacks from Nineteenth, a bar inside the leisure and golf club in the hotel grounds. Dinner is served in the restaurant, Mint, where we ate on both nights. The menu is extensive but not daunting and the food fresh and locally-sourced where possible, such as Severn and Wye smoked salmon and Gloucester Old Spot pork rib eye. I'd never tried - or even heard of - English burrata (like mozzarella) before but it was delicious as a starter (although the figs were under-ripe and didn't seem to be caramelised as promised). My lamb main was also excellent. The following night my Indian tikka chat (potato cake) starter was equally good, as was the Summer berry pud.

Breakfast, also served in Mint, was buffet-style with a selection of al a carte dishes, some of which cost extra.

Tip: I'd ask for a table in the conservatory as this has a cosier feel than the other part of the restaurant, which I felt was slightly ruined by a walkway that links the main building with the modern wing running alongside the tables. 

Activities: In addition to the 18-hole golf course, practice range and putting green, the hotel has a decent-size swimming pool - with bi-fold doors opening onto a sun terrace - plus an outdoor sauna and whirlpool, a gym, tennis and squash courts and a crocket lawn. Sadly, we weren't able to enjoy any of the outdoor activities as the weather was so bad, but my husband had a swim and said the pool was 'nice'.

Spa treatments: There are two lovely large rooms for treatments, including massages and facials, and a small nail bar. I went in for a Swedish massage with stiff shoulders and came out floating on air.

Family-friendly? Definitely. The casual vibe means families won't feel uncomfortable here, despite the opulent surroundings. Service is good, on the whole, but friendly and relaxed, not snooty. Some of the rooms are family sized, and kids will love  the outdoor space. Not only that, but the hotel is dog-friendly too. Several of the rooms have patio doors that open directly onto a grassy area, and dogs are welcome in the piano lounge, as previously noted. There's an additional £20 fee to cover cleaning costs.

Verdict: A relaxed hotel with great facilities, decent food and fabulous views, ideal for couples, families and dog owners. I'd definitely go for a suite if you can stretch to it.

Price: Rooms start from £125 a night, including breakfast. Suites start from £230 rising to £350 for an Opulence suite, including breakfast.

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