Historically known for its spa waters and impressive Regency architecture, the Gloucestershire town of Cheltenham now welcomes thousands of visitors to the annual Gold Cup festival, with corporate guests high among their numbers.
The swathes of spa-goers that once made tracks for Cheltenham during the 18th and 19th centuries have been replaced by enthusiastic punters, but there’s more to the town’s meeting and events sector than the annual horse-racing bonanza.
Back in the town centre, there’s plenty of venue choice for the discerning meetings and events planner, while the Cotswolds acts as a giant playground for corporate team-building exercises.
Name: Queens Hotel
Address: The Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1NN
Tel: 01242 514754
When asked which hotel is generally considered the town’s finest and best-known, a member of staff at Visit Cheltenham hesitated only slightly before name-checking the Queens Hotel – and most locals would probably agree. The Regency-style, four-star property belongs to the Accor hotel group’s Mercure brand and is centrally located next to Cheltenham’s Imperial Gardens. It has 70 guestrooms and three meeting rooms: the Prestbury room for up to ten delegates; the Montpelier for up to 40; and the Regency for up to 100. The Napier restaurant serves up contemporary British cuisine, while the Gold Cup bar is open throughout the day and evening. There’s also a Raymond Blanc Brasserie adjacent to the hotel in its former ballroom featuring an open kitchen and described by the man himself as “reminiscent of the ‘Grande Brasseries’ of Paris.”
Name: The Pittville Pump Room
Address: Pittville Park, Cheltenham, GL52 3JE
Tel: 01242 264231
Every good spa town needs a waterworks, and Cheltenham’s grade-I listed Pittville Pump Room is among the finest examples of the Regency-style architecture for which the town is known. Built in the 1820s and overlooking pretty parkland, it hosts private and public functions throughout the year and still draws water from an 80ft well. The Great Hall can accommodate up to 400 delegates theatre-style, with a wide choice of layouts, lighting and staging on offer. The Apse room has capacity for 80 people, and the Oval, East and West rooms can each take up to 50.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Name: Hotel du Vin
Address: Parabola Road, Cheltenham, GL50 3AQ
Tel: 01242 588450
Though not strictly a newcomer to Cheltenham’s accommodation and events portfolio, the former Carlton Hotel was converted to the boutique Hotel du Vin several years ago, and has not looked back since. The popular brand describes itself as ‘elegant and unpretentious’, and conjures images of ‘quintessential British style’, a formula that’s proved popular with both leisure and corporate guests. As well as 49 bedrooms and suites, the Hotel du Vin Cheltenham has a bistro, Champagne bar, Grape & Grain bar and two function rooms – Speyside Glenlivet, for 20 people boardroom style or 30 in theatre style, and Almaviva, for 14 delegates boardroom style and 20 theatre style. Delegate rates are from £199 per person and include refreshments, lunch, three-course dinner and accommodation.
ON A SHOESTRING
Name: The Big Sleep Hotel
Address: Wellington Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1XZ
Tel: 01242 696999
One of three Big Sleep Hotels – the others are in Cardiff and Eastbourne – the Cheltenham property opened for business in 2006 ushering in a new style of accommodation to the town, namely the self-proclaimed ‘designer-budget’ sector. All 60 guestrooms have flatscreen TVs, wifi internet, safes and tea/coffee-making facilities, with online rates starting from £55 including breakfast. A bright, futuristic meeting room has capacity for 30 delegates theatre-style or 20 in boardroom format.
Name: Cotswold Conference Centre
Address: Farncombe Estate, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7LJ
Tel: 0845 230 8580
The Cotswold Conference Centre may lie in a different postcode to Cheltenham, but don’t let that put you off this venue. Some 18 miles northeast of the town and around the same distance southwest of Stratford-Upon-Avon, this purpose built venue opened ten years ago. There are ten training, meeting and conference rooms for up to 100 delegates, plus a range of syndicate rooms and breakout lounges. Meeting rooms have LCD projection equipment and Crestron infrared control panels for audiovisual equipment, blinds and lighting. There’s wifi or wired internet access throughout and excellent mobile phone reception despite the rural location. The CCC also has 53 ensuite bedrooms for residential events and with 300 acres of parkland on its doorstep there’s a variety of team-building and recreational activities on offer, in addition to discounted golf at neighbouring Broadway Golf Club. There’s also a bar, gym, ample free parking and good dining facilities.
SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED
Name: Rothko Rooms
Address: 7 St George’s Terrace, St James’ Square, Cheltenham, GL50 3PT
Tel: 01242 267704
The Rothko meeting rooms are so low-key that it might feel just a little like your corporate gathering is taking place in someone’s front room – but not just any room, for they occupy the ground floor of a refurbished grade-II listed building in the heart of Cheltenham, complete with decor in the style of the artist himself. There are two spaces, the Board Room with comfy leather seating for up to ten delegates, and the Lounge, a more informal space with sofa and armchairs. An LCD projector and screen are available, while flipcharts, wifi internet access and tea and coffee are supplied as standard. Rates start from £150 for a half-day rental or £275 for a full day. Evening rental is charged at £45 per hour. Lunches can be catered for at £10 per head, while projector hire is £125 per day.
How to get there: Cheltenham Spa station is served by CrossCountry and First Great Western, including direct services from London Paddington, Bristol, Birmingham, Swindon, Cardiff, Plymouth, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Birmingham and Bristol airports are both around an hour’s drive from the town, while central London is about two hours by road.