There’s an undeniable charm about a quintessential British hotel, where the history seems interwoven with the luxurious linens and elegant furnishings. The Bradley in Cheltenham has this historic ambience in spades, although it has been tastefully modernised and renovated to ensure that it simultaneously offers every modern convenience. For guests staying in one of the Bed and Breakfast’s ten ensuite rooms, it is the chance to soak in the atmospheric charm without sacrificing any comfort or luxury, as I learned on a recent stay with my husband.
The drive to The Bradley takes you to the edge of Gloucestershire’s Cotswold’s, one of the United Kingdom’s most picturesque places and an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Bradley benefits from this impressive location, while it is also within easy reach of all the quality restaurants and cafés in Cheltenham. Cheltenham itself is a place steeped in over one thousand years of history and offers a swathe of arts and cultural events throughout the year, such as a Jazz festival and numerous art showings.
As we pulled up to the hotel’s quintessentially British townhouse façade, the last of the afternoon light was tucked behind the autumn trees, and it looked warm and inviting. We rang the bell and were greeted by Bea Seidler, the hotel’s General Manager, who was waiting with a hospitable smile and a welcome drink that was gratefully received.
After we enjoyed our drink, we were given a tour of the hotel. The building dates back from 1845 and has been welcoming guests to stay the night since 1912 when it was purchased by Madge Shaphard. Madge was an early adventuress, having driven her Baby Alpha car throughout Italy, France and Germany in 1928. As a travel lover myself, I felt a sense of connection to this early owner and loved the pictures of her that can be found in the dining room. These vintage images added to the overall quirky and memorable interior of the hotel, which was again quintessentially British. Undoubtedly, if you’re seeking the classic English experience, you’ll love The Bradley.
Over the next hundred years or so, The Bradley continued to receive guests and I can only imagine the stories the walls could tell! For a fairly long period, the home was a refuge for high-society widows who were left penniless due to the draconian inheritance laws of the late 1800s and early 1900s Britain. These ladies spent many days and nights speaking, writing and painting; as well as enjoying the company of the many lapdogs who also lived in the home. The Bradley continues to welcome pets to stay with their owners at the hotel.
During the tour, we also learned more about the modern renovations which were undertaken by the de Savary family, who have an impressive portfolio of character-filled B&Bs, and hotels, in 2015. The renovation efforts were carefully planned and carried out to ensure that The Bradley offers every modern convenience while also remaining true to its quirky history and preserving all of its historic charms.
It is not only the common areas that are laden with history and charm. As we were shown to our room, I was immediately enamoured by its glamour and elegance. We stayed in the Luxury Room, which was stunningly decorated. The décor was bright and memorable without being over-imposing, and I loved the rich blue floral wallpaper that adorned the walls. The room also featured large floor-to-ceiling aspect windows (draped in stunning gold curtains) which let the natural light flood into the room, giving it an airy and spacious feel.
The centrepiece of the room is the antique mahogany four-poster bed, which looked simply regal and fit for a queen! The mattress itself was similarly delightful, so soft and comfortable and topped off with a luxurious silk duvet. It fits beautifully with the rest of the antique-inspired décor and furnishings.
The room’s ensuite was one of the highlights of the stay, as it was beautifully modern with a huge free-standing bathtub for a rejuvenating and blissful soak. There’s also a large walk-in shower, and I particularly appreciated the comfortable under-floor heating which avoids any chills and adds that extra layer of comfort.
Overall, the room was everything I’d hoped for; feeling somewhat like a historic fairytale while also offering all the modern conveniences and luxuries like high speed-wifi and under-floor heating in the bathroom. I really appreciated the care that has been put into making sure the renovations were sympathetic to the hotel’s fascinating history and antique charm.
Another way that the hotel honours its history is through an impressive collection of art and antiques which are open for guests to enjoy and admire.Following our tour of the hotel and the antiques, we were ready to enjoy dinner. Thanks to the convenient location of The Bradley, we were spoiled for choice for where to eat. Within just a two-minute walk of the hotel are several excellent restaurants, with many more if you are willing to wander for just a few more minutes. There’s also a good choice of pubs, for another quintessentially British experience.
We returned from the restaurant feeling very satisfied, however, we appreciated the provision of an ‘honesty box’ which offered various drinks that you simply left the payment for and enjoyed. It was such a nice touch and really showed the level of friendly hospitality that is on offer at The Bradley. For other queries, there is also someone on duty at all times who can handle enquiries or attend to any issues – not that we had any!
After our dinner and a luxurious night’s sleep, we made our way to the bright and beautiful conservatory for breakfast. To complete our English experience, we opted for the Full English Breakfast which includes all the classics including bacon, eggs, baked beans and tomatoes – it was quite indulgent and really delicious. It was the perfect end to a wonderful stay in such a historic and charming English hotel.
All in all, I was so impressed with the way that the de Savary family have brought The Bradley up to date with the modern world without losing any of its traditional charm and quaint atmosphere. Added to its excellent location within minutes of various excellent restaurants and cafés, as well as a short drive from the charming Cotswolds, it’s a completely charming offering.