For an overnight break or as a base for exploring the Cotswolds, West Country or Wales, the Mercure Gloucester, Bowden Hall Hotel is hard to beat. A four-star Georgian country house, it is an impressive and imposing building set in approximately 12 acres of its own grounds.
Outside everything is very traditional, inside the traditional and the cozy come with a certain flair and flourish, with the occasional, attractive and witty artwork to discover.
The team is helpful and smiling, and the hotel also accepts dogs if your confinement has resulted in a four-legged addition.
Why come here?
As mentioned above, as a base for exploring some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery and interesting towns, the location is hard to beat. It’s on the east side of the Cotswolds, around 30 minutes from Bourton-on-the-Water or, indeed, Cheltenham Racecourse, while Cardiff and Bristol are around an hour’s drive away. At the risk of sounding capital-centric, it’s also two hours from London, making it a doable, quiet and comfortable spot for a short overnight break or as an off-site meeting place.
As far as hotels go, it’s unlikely to win any design awards anytime soon, but it operates with comfort and a very warm welcome. Gin and tonics are also served Spanish style in large goblets, so it’s a definite win…
Eat and drink
Food and where it can be served are arguably Bowden Hall’s biggest USPs. Although global in outlook (and in terms of crowd-pleaser), there is a strong sense of local and seasonal. The meat comes from local butchers and, if possible, from farms. The fish is fresh – the advantage of geography – and modern culinary requirements are also well catered for, from vegan to gluten-free and simple and healthy.
There’s a brasserie (also the breakfast room), lounge menu and afternoon tea options, room service and, from 2021, three “VIPods” that have proven invaluable on social distancing. Heated and powered, the pods provide a more private experience – away from prying ears or other people’s infectious viruses, of course – and are available for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. They are fun and surprisingly warm and well closed, with views of the impressive facade of the hotel and the lake. It’s a new take on the private dining room, one that has steadily improved and evolved over the past few months as seasonal challenges have arisen.
What to do
You can walk around the grounds — and possibly feed nearby horses depending on the time of day — but, most of the time, you’ll likely be using the hotel as a base for exploring the area. As mentioned above, the Cotswolds are up there, the West Country and Wales are up there and there’s plenty of local history to enjoy too. All in all a very pleasant stay in a very pleasant part of the country. The starting rate is from £62 per night per room.
Mercure Gloucester, Bowden Hall Hotel, Bondend Road, Upton Saint Leonards, Gloucester GL4 8ED; mercurygloucester.co.uk