No. 131 on the Cheltenham promenade is literally what your hotel of dreams is made of. It’s as if The Lucky Onion owned by Julian Dunkerton, sneaked a peak at my check list of what makes a hotel incredible and then invited me down so I could tick off as I explored.
Incorporating the recently opened YOKU Japanese restaurant – a cool, vibey destination restaurant with a strict dress code and phenomenal cuisine, there’s also a restaurant on the outdoor terrace filled with twinkly lights and snug blankets, an outdoor bar, indoor bar, and basement gin bar which the whole of Cheltenham seemed to be in on the Thursday night I visited (definitely a sign you’re doing something right…)
With the No. 131 empire set across three Georgian townhouses, the rooms too are dreamy. 36 perfectly formed hideaways allow you to leave the world behind and enjoy pure luxury.
The Suite at No. 131
My suite boasted so many luxurious features, it’s difficult to explain the level of comfort experienced. With a leather chair made for kicking back in while enjoying a glass of bourbon, the sumptuous lounger sofa too (in seal grey) was the perfect spot to write up some of my reviews and admire the views of the Montpelier Gardens.
I adored the base colour palette so much that I took ten minutes out to explore colour chart articles in the hope of identifying the exact shade of sage on the walls. The whole aesthetic of the room was literally joyous – from the feature fire place to the shelf of incredible books (including David Copperfield and Wild Flowers and Their Horns), designer pottery and opulent lighting.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there were just a few further touches things that made this bedroom extremely special. Not only was there an espresso machine, there was also a kettle… then further jars full of herbal teas and adorable Biscoff biscuits. And yes, I love fresh flowers, but who knew the next ones I’d receive would be courtesy of my hotel room? Beautiful oak flooring, an area that felt like my own private dressing room and fluffy gowns and slippers sent me into hotel heaven.
Into the bathroom and the attention to detail was divine. Under floor heating, the double shower set at exactly the right temperature. An enormous frosted glass window which meant you were actually bathing in light while indulging in a dip in the roll top bath -brimming with bubbles courtesy of Acqua di Parma.
Then there’s the Dyson hairdryer, the hangers individually stamped with the name of the hotel.. And one more thing before I move on – when is there ever a need for six pillows and two cushions on the gigantic bed? Never. But it’s nice to have them isn’t it?
After a pre-dinner drink at No. 131’s Tokyo Bar, I was greeted at the entrance by the fabulous Philippe (my new best friend), and taken to a central table to take in the vibe at YOKU. With an elevated bar which is perfect for sitting at and at the same time, perfect for concealing the magical chefs hard at work, YOKU is a fine dining and fancy restaurant with a dress code to ensure you only get a certain clientele (which it does). Red, black and gold is the colour theme in this opulent dining room – a gilded ceiling, a show-stopping chandelier, Japanese art works adorning the walls and the fanciest of tableware.
I enjoyed Japanese wine (a first for me), paired with Konro flash grilled Kagoshima A5 wagyu (the very best), momiji oroshi (a firey radish paste), a wafu truffle dressing to give a hint of dressing and lotus crisp for added texture. The whole plate sent my tastebuds into overdrive, but that meant I was more than ready for the incredible black miso cod – sweet, savoury, salty and utterly delightful.
With gyoza, nigiri, sashimi, ramen, soba, rice bowls and sushi on the menu here, plus an extensive wine list, YOKU is a restaurant for a special occasion.
Gin & Juice
Gin & Juice at No. 131 which was awarded ‘Best Hotel Gin Bar in the UK’ this year, boasts an upstairs terrace with heaters for a quiet drink early evening, and then downstairs, a buzzy bar area with hundreds of gins, plenty of dancing, and an ex Trader Vics, Mahiki kinda vibe.
Open until late, this moody basement stop off is the perfect place to hang out when the sun goes down. Definitely a destination bar in its own right, it’s a busy, atmospheric spot that the locals seem to give their seal of approval to (as did I).
Of course, the best thing about finding that your favourite bar in the city is at your actual hotel, is the walk home. All of 90 seconds, before relaxing into that incredible bed.
The No. 131 Terrace
The No. 131 Terrace is a light, bright twinkly marqueed haven with biophilic accents and sheepskin throws. Snug is definitely the word that comes to mind. Drinking a sugary tea out of a porcelain patterned teapot was a great start to the day, whilst watching the Cheltenham promenade slowly stir to life.
Breakfast is served here from 7-11am and while there’s a wonderful selection from truffled egg with caviar through to a stack of buttermilk pancakes with blueberries, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the Full English. It’s the greatest breakfast feast I think I’ve ever encountered – avocado, two perfectly poached eggs, luscious black pudding, home made hash browns, mountains of toast with Netherend Farm salted butter and rasher upon rasher of perfectly crispy bacon.
Checking out was a sad experience. If only I’d booked two nights, a week.. in fact, couldn’t I move in?! Having stayed in hundreds of hotels over the past 10 years, I can confidently say that No. 131 is one of the best I’ve stayed in. Rooms during high season range from £160 for a cosy room, up to £370 for a suite. Book your stay here. You won’t be disappointed.