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Cheltenham is an historic spa town in England, which started its development in the early 1700s with the discovery of healing waters. It became very popular after the visit of King George III in 1788, and developed further. You cannot take the waters in Cheltenham, but you can visit the Pump Room to get a feeling for the ambience.


Cheltenham is now probably most famous for the Gold Cup horse race which takes place in mid-March every year. You'll need to book early to find a room, possibly as early as the previous year. Many people accept rooms anywhere within about a 50 mi (80 km) radius.

It's also famous for housing the top secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) responsible for signals intelligence (SIGINT) for UKUSA by Britain's best computer scientists and mathematicians, in its doughnut-shaped building (designed that way for security reasons).

Get in

By train

See also: Rail travel in the United Kingdom

The 1 Cheltenham Spa station is a little outside the metropolitan area and has frequent rail links to London Paddington, Bristol and the south and Birmingham and the north.

There's a regular bus service (D or E) to the town centre:

Stagecoach (D or E): Hatherley → Warden Hill → Rail Station → Town Centre → Racecourse → Bishop's Cleeve → Woodmancote

There is an easy walk through Montpellier into the centre (15–20 minutes). An alternative off-road walking route is The Honeybourne Line but there have been muggings at night. It's too far to walk if mobility is an issue, so take a taxi.

By car

The M5 reaches Cheltenham from the north and south and the A40 from the East (from Oxford) is also a useful transport link. Parking is rarely a problem now in Cheltenham, but the one way systems can sometimes get a little confusing. With this in mind a good option would be to use the Park and Ride facility National Park and Ride Directory. If you're planning a day at the races, Cheltenham, has its own Racecourse Park and Ride facility

By bus

Inside of Gloucestershire

There are buses from CirencesterStroud and other local villages to Cheltenham once an hour.

Several bus services go to Cheltenham from Gloucester. The most direct, comfortable and convenient of these is the 94 (Stagecoach Gold) bus, which as of March 2018 now operates 24 hours a day (except on Sundays).

Less frequent bus services go to and from Tewkesbury, such as the 41 and 42.

Outside of Gloucestershire

Many national long-distance buses stop at the 2 Royal Well bus station (behind The Promenade) including the Swanbrook 853 bus and the National Express bus.

The 853 bus travels from Oxford to Gloucester several times a day. A single ticket from Cheltenham to Oxford is usually £8.00, but day-return tickets are also available:

853 (Swanbrook): Oxford → Cassington (A40) → Witney → Minster Lovell → Burford → Northleach → Andoversford → Cheltenham → Gloucester

The National Express has connections to London Heathrow (and beyond). However it's not possible to buy a ticket at the station outside of office-hours, so buy online or by telephone.

By plane

Nearby Staverton hosts 3 Gloucestershire Airport (GLO IATA), which has regular flights to Jersey. There are also many private aircraft there, which can be chartered.

Birmingham Airport (BHX IATA) and Bristol Airport (BRS IATA) are each only a couple of hours ' drive (north and south respectively) and offer a wide range of destinations inside and outside of Europe.

It can take several hours to drive to the London airports (Heathrow (LHR IATA), Gatwick (LGW IATA), Luton (LTN IATA) and Stansted (STN IATA)).

Get around

By car

Cheltenham is relatively easy to get around by car. Tourists should be aware of the one-way system when driving in the town centre, although there are plans to possibly alter this under the Cheltenham Transport Plan.

Most parking in the town is paid and is run by NCP or the town council.

  • St George's Road car park, St George's Rd, GL50 3DT. M-Sa: 8AM-8PM including bank/public holidays, Su: 10AM-8PM. Up to 1 hour: £1.40, Up to 2 hours: £2.60, Up to 3 hours: £3.60, Up to 4 hours: £4, Up to 6 hours: £7.50, More than 6 hours: £10. (updated Jan 2018)
  • Portland Gate car park, Portland Gates, GL50 4DW. 24 hours. Up to 1 hour: £1.50, Up to 2 hours: £2.50, Up to 3 hours: £3.50, Up to 4 hours: £4.50, Up to 6 hours: £7.50, Up to 24 hours: £10.50. (updated Jan 2018)

By taxi

Taxis are fairly reliable. If you flag a taxi down or get one from the taxi rank you will be charged from the meter, whereas if you book with a taxi company you will be charged considerably less. Most locals use taxis at night as far as the surrounding villages as night-buses are few (apart from a regular link to Gloucester). At night, taxis wait along The Promenade (it can be very busy at pub-closing times).

By bus

The main bus company is Stagecoach which operates a number of buses around the town, mainly on routes with letters rather than numbers.

The D bus goes from the station through the town centre to the racecourse and on to Bishop's Cleeve. A single from the town centre to the station costs £2.30, and a day ticket for all the Stagecoach services within Cheltenham (Dayrider) costs £4.00.


  • 1 Promenade. The broad, tree-lined Promenade and its continuation into Montpellier Walk (look for the caryatids) and Montpellier Street, the town's smart shopping streets (the chain stores are mercifully elsewhere, in the High Street). Look out for the Neptune Fountain at the south end of the gardens in front of the council offices. 
  • 2 Imperial Gardens (off the Promenade). Colourful display of summer flowers. 
  • 3 Pittville Park. Laid out in the early 19th century as the centre of the then-new residential area of Pittville. The park is arranged round an artificial lake, with Pittville Pump Room on the hillside at the north-western edge. The Pump Room is open for free visits to see the fine interior and water tasting when it is not being used for events or weddings. 
  • 4 Cleeve Hill. The highest point of the Cotswolds hill range and in the county of Gloucestershire, at 1,083 feet (330 m). It commands a clear view to the west, over Cheltenham and the racecourse, over the River Severn and into Wales; and to the north over Winchcombe.  
  • 5 The Wilson Art Gallery & Museum, Clarence St, GL50 3JT, ☏ +44 1242 237431. The museum re-opened in 2013 after a £6.3-million project to expand the building including additional galleries, a performance space, larger cafe and shop and a new home for the Cheltenham Tourist Information Centre. The collection of furniture and other pieces by Cotswold-based Arts and Crafts Movement craftsmen such as Ernest Gimson and Edward Barnsley is particularly good. Free. (updated Nov 2017)
  • 6 Holst Birthplace Museum, 4 Clarence Rd, GL52 2AY. The Regency terrace house where Gustav Holst, composer of The Planets was born in 1874. Interesting both for the building and for the musical history. £4.50. 
  • 7 Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake. The country park is a site of nature conservation, geological & archaeological interest.  
  • 8 Leckhampton Hill. A site of Iron Age hill fort and long barrow and famous for its old limestone quarries. One particularly striking feature on the hill is the Devil's Chimney, a substantial pillar of stone left standing next to one of the upper inclines.  
  • 9 St. Mary's Church, Clarence St, GL50 3PL, ☏ +44 1242 519520. Visit M-F 11AM-3PM; Sa 10AM-noon; Service Su 11AM. Dating to medieval times, it has been in continuous use for 850 years. In 2013 it became Cheltenham Minster.  

Further afield

  • 10 Chedworth Roman Villa, Chedworth, GL54 3LJ (A half hour walk from the village centre, go from the pub past the church and up the valley.), ☏ +44 1242 890256, ✉ chedworth@nationaltrust.org.uk. One of the largest Roman villas in the UK. Adult: £9.50; Child (over 5): £4.75; Family: £23.80.  
  • 11 Hailes Abbey, Hailes, Nr Winchcombe, GL54 5PB (11 miles northeast of Cheltenham), ☏ +44 1242 602398. adults £4.40, children £2.60, concessions £4.00.  
  • 12 Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, GL54 5JD, ☏ +44 1242 602308, ✉ enquiries@sudeley.org.uk. Historic castle, notable for being amongst other things the final resting place of Henry VIII's sixth wife, Catherine Parr, who is buried in the chapel. (updated Oct 2016)


  • 1 Pittville Pump Room, East Approach Drive, GL52 3JE (10-min walk north of High St). Test the waters (and go to concerts) at the Pittville Pump Room.  
  • Go to the races at 2 Cheltenham Racecourse, Evesham Rd GL50 4SH (A mile north of town on A435), ☏ +44 1242 513014. But only in winter, as (unusually) it's only a jumps-racing course, with frequent fixtures Oct-March. The big event is Cheltenham Gold Cup, held mid-March. (updated Jan 2019)
  • 3 Swim at Sandford Parks Lido (set in landscaped gardens next to Sandford Park). May - Oct, hours vary. The Lido has a 50-m outdoor, main pool (with reserved lanes), a children's outdoor pool, and paddling pool. All the pools are heated to over 70°F (21°C). Café with value hot food. (updated Sep 2017)
  • 4 Cineworld Cinema, The Brewery, St Margaret's Road, GL50 4EF (Just off the High St, behind Tesco), ☏ +44 871 220 8000 (premium rate from mobiles and many non-BT landlines). The new cinema that put the Odeon out of business. Decent screens, decent sound, comfy seats, expensive popcorn. 
  • 5 The Screening Rooms, The Brewery, St Margaret's Road, GL50 4EF. Situated next to Cineworld, the Screening Rooms offers larger seating, waiter service and a "no kids after 8PM" policy. It's certainly the best way to watch a film but more expensive than Cineworld. Save money by going during the week and during the day and booking online. £££. (updated Mar 2015)


  • 6 Gold Cup horse racing, Cheltenham Racecourse, GL50 4SH. In March.  
  • 7 International Jazz Festival. first week of May.  
  • 8 Cheltenham Science Festival. early June.  
  • 9 Cheltenham International Festival of Music. 3 weeks in July. Music festival and a fringe festival on the same dates.  
  • 10 Cheltenham Cricket Festival, Thirlestaine Rd, GL53 7AD. Starts late July or early August. 
  • 11 Cheltenham Literature Festival. October.  
  • Wychwood Festival of music. May.  


Cheltenham has several theatres which host a variety of productions.

  • 12 Bacon Theatre, Dean Close School, Shelburne Rd, GL51 6HE, ☏ +44 1242 258002. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 13 Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, GL50 1HQ, ☏ +44 1242 572573, ✉ admin@everymantheatre.org.uk. Cheltenham's oldest theatre, it has been serving the town since 1891. It has had an expensive refurbishment and still produces to top class, West-End productions. Tickets are available from the box office by phone or online. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 14 Playhouse Theatre, 47-53 Bath Road, GL53 7HG, ☏ +44 1242 522852. The town's community run theatre since 1945. For 70 years, the people of Cheltenham have enjoyed the notable facility of their own theatre, in which talented amateurs from all walks of life can work together with a single purpose; the presentation of nonprofessional drama of exceptionally high standards to the theatre-going public. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 15 Town Hall, Imperial Square, GL50 1QA, ☏ +44 844 5762210, ✉ boxoffice@cheltenhamtrust.org.uk. M-Sa 10AM-5:30PM. Cheltenham's magnificent town hall also hosts the odd production along with being used as venue for a multitude of events. (updated Oct 2016)


  • 1 Gloucestershire College (formerly Gloscat), Princess Elizabeth Way, GL51 7SJ, ☏ +44 345 155 2020, ✉ info@gloscol.ac.uk. Cheltenham's campus is small, but there are plenty of courses that can be taken. There are other campuses in Gloucester and Coleford in the Forest of Dean. (updated Jan 2018)
  • 2 University of Gloucestershire, The Park, GL50 2RH, ☏ +44 1242 714700. (updated Jan 2018)


Cheltenham is a popular shopping destination in the region. Both Promenade street in the centre and Montpellier have many high end shops; including the House of Fraser department store. The High Street and Lower High Street are where you find all the usual chain-stores. There is also the Regent Arcade shopping centre.

  • 1 House of Fraser, 32-38 Promenade, GL50 1HP, ☏ +44 344 800 3715, ✉ cheltenham@hof.co.uk. A high-end department store with many of the expensive brands. 
  • 2 Regent Arcade, High Street, GL50 1JZ, ☏ +44 1242 521345. Not extremely exciting, but quite a few chain shops on two levels. Its biggest attraction is the Wishing Fish Clock which blows bubbles every hour. 
  • 3 John Lewis, 123 High St, GL50 1DQ, ☏ +44 1242 544000. M-W, F-Sa: 9AM-6PM, Th: 8AM-7PM, Su: 11AM-5PM. A large department store. (updated Nov 2018)
  • 4 Marks & Spencer, 173 High Street, GL50 1DF, ☏ +44 1242 521531. A fairly large branch of the British chain store, with a large food hall and clothing section. 

Outside the town centre itself consists several retail parks that should fulfill most of a shopper's needs.

  • 5 Gallagher Retail Park, Tewkesbury Road, GL51 9RR, ☏ +44 8081 565533. Retail park consisting primarily of large Sainsbury's supermarket with gas station and café, Next and Sports Direct for clothes shopping and Boots for pharmaceuticals or toiletries. Along with Costa Coffee and Subway. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 6 Kingsditch Retail Park, Kingsditch Ln, GL51 9PX. Retail park consisting primarily of a Marks & Spencer: Simply Food and Home stores, and a large Argos. Along with Currys/PC World and Smyth's across the road for electronics and toys respectively. There are also McDonald's and KFC restaurants nearby. (updated Oct 2016)



  • Pittville Gates. A row of popular fast-food rather than one single restaurant. Located on the nearest edge of Pittville Park. Very handy for walking back to the town from the races. Mamaris (pizza, kebab, burgers) are always fresh and friendly. Chinese, Indian and British all available along the same row. (updated Jan 2018)
    • 1 Mamari's Kebabs, 9 Prestbury Rd, GL52 2PN, ☏ +44 1242 226663. Su-Th: 4PM-1AM, F-Sa: 4PM-3AM. (updated Jan 2018)
  • 2 The Moon Under Water, 16-28 Bath Rd, GL53 7HA, ☏ +44 1242 583945. Large Wetherspoon's pub with reasonable food for around £7. This is a large and characterless place, but it does have a nice outdoor area at the rear overlooking Sandford Park. 
  • 3 The Bank House, 15-21 Clarence St, GL50 3JL, ☏ +44 1242 240940. Another Wetherspoon's pub more centrally situated. 
  • 4 Simpson's Fish & Chips, 75 Priors Rd, GL52 5AL, ☏ +44 1242 521964. Winner of the UK's Number 1 Fish & Chip Takeaway 2016 award. (updated Dec 2017)


  • 5 The Brewery, ☏ +44 1242 574378. An entertainment/eating complex located behind the Lower High Street. Here you will find a selection of rather boring international chain restaurants including Nando's, Prezzo, Frankie & Benny's and Real China. Parking available (paid). Great if you like eating on industrial-estates. 
  • 6 The Daffodil, 18-20 Suffolk Parade, GL50 2AE (just off Suffolk Road), ☏ +44 1242 700055, ✉ eat@thedaffodil.com. M-Th 5PM-11PM, F-Su noon-midnight. Converted cinema, decorated in an art Deco style. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 7 Flynns, 16-17 The Courtyard, GL50 1SR, ☏ +44 1242 252752. Does a decent steak at a reasonable price. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 8 The Langton, 189-191 London Road, GL52 6HT (on London Road in Charlton Kings), ☏ +44 1242 233022. Offers some nice (if slightly pricey) bar food in a Regency-style building, and a good Sunday lunch. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 9 Café Rouge, 31-41 The Promenade, GL50 1NW, ☏ +44 1242 529989. Su-F 9AM-10PM; Sa 9AM-11PM. Casual French restaurant. One of the best places to eat in central Cheltenham is Café Rouge, just off the high street. It's brilliant and the food is often good and comes with a smile! (updated Oct 2016)
  • 10 Storyteller, 11 North Place, GL50 4DW, ☏ +44 1242 250343, ✉ post@storyteller.co.uk. Reasonably posh and nice. Very popular. 
  • 11 Zizzi's, St James Church, 3 Suffolk Square, GL50 2DR, ☏ +44 1242 252493. noon-10PM. Wonderful converted 19th century church [1], elegantly decorated with good Italian food and wine. Family/baby-friendly in the daytime. (updated Oct 2016)


  • 12 Le Champignon Sauvage, 24-28 Suffolk Rd, GL50 2AQ, ☏ +44 1242 573449. Be punctual. Entry Tu-Sa 12:30PM-1:15PM (last order: 1:30PM) & 7:30PM-8:30PM (last order: 8:45PM). Cheltenham's only Michelin starred restaurant (two stars); 4 AA rosettes; Good Food Guide, 2014 Chef of the Year (David Everitt-Matthias) & Decanter Restaurant of the Year. You are not to use your mobile phone in the dining room and gentlemen are to sit down when they use the lavatory. À la carte lunch or dinner 2 courses: £48, 3 courses: £59, four courses (with cheese and dessert): £69. Set dinner menu: Tu-F two courses £26, 3 courses £32.  
  • 13 Lumière, Clarence Parade, GL50 3PA, ☏ +44 1242 222200, ✉ info@lumiere.cc. Has a good reputation. (updated Oct 2016)


  • 1 The Frogmill, A436, Shipton Oliffe, Andoversford, GL54 4HT (7 miles east of town centre), ☏ +44 1242 386364, ✉ info@thefrogmill.co.uk. M–F 7AM–11PM, Sa - Su 8AM-11PM, closes midnight F, Sa. A luxurious country pub with 28 bespoke bedrooms, rolling landscapes and seasonal dining. (updated Mar 2020)
  • 2 The Retreat, 10-11 Suffolk Parade, GL50 2AB, ☏ +44 1242 235436, ✉ retreatcheltenham@hotmail.com. Established wine bar in Montpellier, located on Suffolk Parade. Worth finding to enjoy the "posh" side of Cheltenham. Popular with Cheltenham College on Friday/Saturday when it can be very busy. Ask the locals for other lesser known restaurants and bars nearby. Montpellier is not easy to explore without local knowledge. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 3 Sandford Park Ale House, 20 High St, GL50 1DZ (Head east along the High St until just out of the shopping area), ☏ +44 1242 574517, ✉ spalehouse@gmail.com. A slightly out-of-the-ordinary bar that takes real ale very seriously offering lots of variety. Also sells lager, cider and food. Large rear garden for drinking in (updated Jun 2020)
  • 4 Shakes2Go, 9 Grosvenor St, GL52 2SQ. 10AM-6PM. A wide array of ice cream shakes made from delicious and not so delicious ingredients. (updated Mar 2015)
  • 5 The Swan, 35-37 High Street, GL50 1DX (located on The Strand (which connects to The High St)), ☏ +44 1242 243726. A popular bar with frequent entertainment and has a large heated outdoor area for smokers. Serves both local and known-brand drinks. (updated Oct 2016)

The only large nightclubs in town are V (formerly Moda) and Moomoo (formerly Blush), nothing unique but both enjoyable. Popular mainly with students.

  • 6 Moomoo (formerly Blush), 1 Regent Street, GL50 1HA, ☏ +44 7584 252188. (updated Aug 2020)



  • 1 YMCA, 6 Vittoria Walk, GL50 1TP, ☏ +44 1242 524024, ✉ info@cheltenhamymca.com. Has Wi-Fi. Letting rooms to tourists supports their charitable work for the homeless. dormitory bed from £20 rooms from £30. (updated Mar 2020)


  • 2 Hilden Lodge Hotel, 271 London Rd, GL52 6YG (on the A40 towards Oxford, just out of town centre), ☏ +44 1242 583242. £35-50 pppn. 
  • 3 Bentons Guest House, 71 Bath Rd, GL52 6YG, ☏ +44 1242 517417. £35 pppn. 
  • 4 Cross Ways Guest House, 57 Bath Rd, GL53 7LH, ☏ +44 1242 527683, ✉ book@crosswaysguesthouse.com. Single £45. 
  • 5 Holiday Inn Express, Dunalley St, GL50 4AP, ☏ +44 1242 548200, fax: +44 1242 548201, ✉ reservations@hiexcheltenham.com. Located in the centre of the town; many amenities are within easy walking distance. £60. 
  • Charlton Kings Hotel & Restaurant, London Rd, GL52 6UU (on the A40 towards Oxford, just out of town centre), ☏ +44 1242 231061, ✉ enquiries@charltonkingshotel.co.uk. Located right on the east side of town, making it easy to get to from Oxford or London. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 7 Butlers, Western Rd GL50 3RN, ☏ +44 1242 570771. Edwardian villa made into a butler-themed B&B, with the 8 bedrooms named after a famous example. (Jeeves would be mortified to find himself here - he insisted he was a "gentleman's personal gentleman".) No children under 9 or dogs. B&B double £100. (updated Aug 2020)
  • 8 Beaumont House, 56 Shurdington Rd GL53 0JE, ☏ +44 1242 223311. Smart stylish B&B in a Victorian villa. No dogs. B&B double £80. (updated Aug 2020)


  • 9 Ellensborough Park, Southam Rd, GL52 3NJ, ☏ +44 1242 545454. £150-200. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 10 Hotel Du Vin, Parabola Rd, GL50 3AH, ☏ +44 1242 370584, ✉ info.cheltenham@hotelduvin.com. £85-100. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 11 Malmaison (formerly The Montpellier Chapter), Bayshill Rd, GL50 3AS, ☏ +44 1242 370655. £85-100. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 12 The George Hotel, St George’s Rd, GL50 3DZ, ☏ +44 1242 235751. £80-125. (updated Jun 2020)
  • 13 Queens, Montpellier, The Promenade, GL50 1NN, ☏ +44 1242 514754, ✉ H6632@accor.com. (updated Oct 2016)
  • No 38 The Park, 38 Evesham Rd GL52 2AH, ☏ +44 1242 822929. Upscale hotel in Georgian townhouse, dog-friendly. B&B double £200. (updated Aug 2020)
  • No 131, 131 Promenade GL50 1NW, ☏ +44 1242 822939. Georgian villa got up in modern style, good dining. No dogs. B&B double £180. (updated Aug 2020)
  • 14 The Bradley, 19 Royal Parade Mews, Bayshill Rd GL50 3AY, ☏ +44 1242 519077. Elegant B&B in a Georgian town house. Dog-friendly, no children under 16. B&B double £150. (updated Aug 2020)

Stay safe

Cheltenham is mostly a safe town. The so-called "bad areas" though are Hester's Way to the west of the town centre and Whaddon to the north-east.

The Honeybourne Way between the train station and Waitrose also is an area worthy of caution as it is relatively isolated from the rest of the town.

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