Stepping out of the rain into this Grade II listen Georgian townhouse felt like I was leaping back in time, but in a time machine with a sexy, modern twist. Luxurious but not overindulgent, the modern twist is executed perfectly. The Georgian heritage of the building remains in tact whilst you sit among beautiful modern art pieces and reclaimed wooden furniture. The building was derelict for 7 years before it underwent restoration to create the ‘Crazy Eights’ bar and restaurant complete with 11 stunning bedrooms.
131 is situated perfectly in the centre of Cheltenham, overlooking Imperial Gardens and just close enough to the rest of the Cotswolds to find yourself pulling up a comfortable pew after a long walk in the countryside.
We arrived just in time for a late dinner but early enough for an aperitif, of course! The staff were so knowledgeable about the menu and happy to recommend their favourite dishes and tipples. I mentioned that I was a rum fan and so came the ‘Crazy Eight Swizzle’. It was their twist on a classic mojito. To die for. Seriously. Refreshing, not overly sweet and you could taste just enough rum.
As the first recommendation was inch perfect, I decided to hand over all responsibility to the waiting staff when it came to the wine food.
I had the freshest, most mouthwatering Tuna tartar served with avocado mousse and a squeeze of lemon. Nicola opted for the crispy pigs head, which was even yummier than we could have imagined! The meat from the pigs head is slow cooked until it falls off the bone. It’s then rolled in breadcrumbs and fried until perfectly crispy and served with piccalilli puree and pickled shallots.
Crazy Eights, as well as their imaginative, bespoke cocktails, are well known for their steaks. Naturally then, I went for a fillet of beef seared to medium rare. My, am I glad I did! Nicola enjoyed the fillet of hake which was so fresh, it tasted as if it had swam straight from the sea into the oven. The hake was served on a bed of puy lentils and when I looked at the plate after fifteen minutes, every single puy lentil had been devoured! I think, nay, I know she enjoyed it. As well as our tasty main dishes, we shared a side of skinny fries, a whole globe artichoke, roasted Cauliflower and cavolo nero with walnuts and bacon.
After a little break, we were ready for dessert. When I say ready, I mean we were ready to squeeze something sweet into our full bellies. There wasn’t much room after all that food! We decided to share a small portion of the crumble, the chocolate orange and a treacle tart. Now, my Yorkshire family are KNOWN for their treacle tarts and dare I say it, Crazy Eights may have been better. Don’t tell my Auntie Marylin.
Post dinner we were more than ready to get into our dressing gowns and relax on the sofa. A delivery of camomile tea made it’s way to the room in a charming silver teapot which we enjoyed before bed. As quickly as the tea was finished had I sunk into one of the most comfortable beds I think my body has ever had the pleasure of laying in. I don’t remember my head hitting the pillow!
After a full night’s sleep, I awoke to the sound of my alarm and a small ray of light beaming through the curtain, behind which I could see Imperial gardens. Just stunning.
Reception were kind enough to send us breakfast in bed and after a tap on the door, I opened it to a wooden box filled with British crockery and fresh fruit, orange juice and a selection of meats and breads. JUST what the Doctor ordered. Nicola bathed in the old roll top bath whilst I showered under a huge round fixed shower head overlooking the garden. Crazy Eights have their own product range; 100 acres. I used the myrtle and grapefruit body wash which smelt delicately of citrus and really refreshing.
We left with our heads high and chests feeling free after a well needed relax after a bustling week in the city of London. If we hadn’t had to leave in the morning we most definitely would have had a lazy lie-in and enjoyed more than one of their breakfast Bloody Mary’s.
I couldn’t recommend an experience more. I felt like I was in a home away from home. It is a truly British gem in the Cotswolds, I will definitely be going back!
131 will be open over Christmas and I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful than sipping champagne by the fire and reading a magazine on the old english styled furniture. Sample menu online at www.no131.com.
131 Promenade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1NW.