The Insider guide to Cheltenham & Gloucester
Think you know Chelt and Glos? Take another look. We've scoured Gloucestershire's hotspots for the best eateries, tucked away bars, boutique shopping and things to do. Don't set out without this indispensable guide.
The heritage city of Gloucester and festival town of Cheltenham may be a few miles apart but they share one thing in common – a huge amount of cosmopolitan cool. Meccas for exploring, shopping, eating, drinking and simply passing the time, they are proudly home to an array of fabulous independent businesses.
Here’s the ultimate guide to the cream of the crop of Cheltenham and Gloucester’s hidden gems.
Out and about
Explore Cheltenham’s hidden gems on two wheels. Cruise along the traffic free Honeybourne Line checking out eclectic street art from the annual Cheltenham Paint Festival, through to a leisurely peddle in the stunning Pittville Park before exploring the very many Regency landmarks in the town centre. Hire a pedal bike or electric bike with self-guided bike tour from the Bicycle Hub.
For those with a thirst for speed, get behind the driving seat at Cotswold Driving School and experience the unique landscape with rally driving thrills.
Prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground? Take a highly recommended guided walking tour with knowledgeable and entertaining accredited blue badge guides.
Gloucester is known for its historical attractions, exceptional shopping and varied dining scene and the city also offers a wide range of activities both on the water and land, from paddle boarding in and around the historic Gloucester Docks – to exploring the open canals on a self-drive boat – and even the opportunity to sleeping on board a converted light ship as featured on TV.
An unmissable hidden activity located in nearby Newent is llama trekking, a truly unforgettable experience with these playful and tremendously cute creatures.
A world of brands and a selection of exceptional designer clothing awaits shoppers in Cheltenham. Areas such as Montpellier and The Promenade are home to a variety of fantastic boutiques and shops.
Head for The Courtyard in Montpellier to see the latest designs from Caroline Charles, who worked for Mary Quant and counted Diana Princess of Wales as a regular client. Caroline’s range caters for special occasions, cocktails, executive wear, and she’s renowned for her signature prints.
Montpellier Walk is a couple of minutes away and home to the flamboyant designs of Beatrice von Treskow, whose garments for women are easily distinguished by the combination of rich, colourful and highly textured fabrics and hand-finished beading and embroidery.
For clothing inspired by the styles of yesteryear, make a beeline for Bennington Street, home of Monrose Vintage.. Just up the road is Monty Smith, an Indie fashion filled with handpicked diverse and interesting women’s and men’s fashion.
Cambray Place is the location of The Union Project, a contemporary men’s clothing shop with an evolving catalogue of brands from around the globe.
Best of the rest
Fashion lovers are spoilt for choice at The Gloucester Quays outlet where you can get up to 70% off gorgeous designer clothes from All Saints to Ted Baker.
Aroid Attic on Bath Rd in Cheltenham is home to the loveliest of plant shops and host of the 2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Houseplant Studio Design.
There’s nothing like a good market to stock up on delicious goodies to take home. Farmers’ markets are firmly established in both Gloucester and Cheltenham, bringing produce from the surrounding countryside and artisan and speciality delicacies made nearby.
Gloucester Farmers Market is held at The Cross, the point where Northgate, Southgate, Eastgate and Westgate Streets meet, every Friday from 9am to 3pm while Cheltenham’s comes to the Promenade every second and last Friday from 9am to 2pm. Gloucester Farmers’ Market: Cheltenham Farmers’ Market can be found here.
The historic Eastgate Market in Gloucester is also worth a visit for fresh fish, meat and other items.
Quirky Bars and Pubs
If you like a great atmosphere, delicious cocktails or artisan beers and ciders, Gloucester and Cheltenham has a fantastic range of bars and pubs. These spots are perfect for pre-theatre or dinner drinks, or for partying long into the night.
The Urban Fox in Montpellier Walk in Cheltenham is the place to enjoy a combo of cocktails and cupcakes in a relaxing space spread over two floors. This elegant new bar works closely with several local distilleries and producers.
The Clarence Social, situated behind The Promenade in Cheltenham, offers classically inspired cocktails, bar food, live music and guest DJs. This beautifully decorated venue has three floors, with a 25ft long bar and it won Best Bar in the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2022 too!
Fans of The Apprentice will recognise the face of Sophie Wilding, who has mixed Regency Cheltenham with an enchanted forest to create the vibe within her small but perfectly formed cocktail bar Imperial Haus.
Cocktails are served with a theatrical twist at Botanica in Bath Road, Cheltenham, which is cosy and has vibrant décor, along with live music every Friday.
The Coal Kitchen Cocktail Bar and Restaurant in Merchants Road, Gloucester Quays, has an amazing location on the waterside in the listed Pillar & Lucy Warehouse, with views of the historic docks.
If pubs are more your thing, try the Sandford Park Ale House in the High Street in Cheltenham. It offers a choice of 10 cask and 16 keg beers, along with wine and spirits, and a garden that backs onto the picturesque River Chelt. Don’t miss the cheese and cider festival held in July too.
The oldest pub in Cheltenham is The Old Restoration, which has stood in the High Street since 1661. It’s a great spot for music and ‘bottomless brunch’.
The Railway in Cheltenham’s New Street supports independent and local brewers and distillers and is home to Smokey Phi Phi’s Thai street barbecue. A natural wine festival is held here in August.
Gloucester’s fine selection of pubs include Robert Raikes Inn located in Southgate Street, a 16th Century timber-framed town house that was home to the founder of the Sunday School movement.
The Fountain in Westgate Street, just a stone’s throw from Gloucester Cathedral, is a 19th Century pub serving real ale. Meanwhile Tank, in Llanthony Road, Gloucester, specialises in beers from Gloucester Brewery just a minute away.
Head into the heart of Montpellier to find a plethora of great bars, including the Montpellier Wine Bar, perfect for people watching from its outside seating area.
The cosmopolitan vibe running through Cheltenham and Gloucester shines brightest in our fabulous eateries.
Purslane in Rodney Road, Cheltenham, offers a creative menu focused on sustainably caught seafood. Fish is also the speciality at The Barn at the Severn & Wye, located at Chaxhill just outside Gloucester.
For fancy food inspired by France, try Le Champignon Sauvage in Suffolk Road, Cheltenham, which has two Michelin stars. Muse Brasserie in St George’s Place, Cheltenham, takes inspiration from both France and India to create delicious dishes.
Asian fusion and sushi is on the menu at Cheltenham’s latest addition to the foodie scene – YOKU. This new Japanese fine dining restaurant at No.131 is an incredible London-level eating experience.
Meanwhile, the southwest Indian state Kerala is the inspiration for Bhoomi Kitchen in Suffolk Road, Cheltenham.
Turkish and Mediterranean-inspired dishes can be found at Daphne Restaurant in Crescent Place, Cheltenham. The Istanbul Kitchen in Winchcombe Street, Cheltenham, offers authentic Turkish flavours and Greek on the Docks in Gloucester offers Greek and Mediterranean cuisine and a relaxing atmosphere.
For a touch of decadence why not take afternoon tea at the famous Queens Hotel in the pretty Montpellier district of Cheltenham, have it either in Victoria’s – the swanky restaurant – or outside in the newly revamped summer garden.
And finally for the ultimate spa break, experience Cowley Manor inspired by the natural beauty of the surrounding Cotswold landscape.