Cowley Manor review: the ultimate staycation in the Cotswolds

A regular destination for the SoGlos team since it first opened in 2002, we returned to the elegant hotel, spa and restaurant near Cheltenham to discover what makes Cowley Manor the ultimate place for a staycation in the Cotswolds.

SoGlos headed to Cotswold hotel, Cowley Manor to try out its spa and restaurant.
SoGlos headed to Cotswold hotel, Cowley Manor to try out its spa and restaurant.

The hotel accommodation at Cowley Manor

With its long, winding driveway leading the way to the magnificent country house, Cowley Manor is full of lovely surprises. Maintaining its glorious and grand Grade II appearance on the outside, the Cotswold hotel offers something completely more modern inside.

Forget stuffy old armchairs, Grandfather clocks and dusty artefacts, Cowley Manor fuses together magnificent period features and a whole load of bold, bright and modern furniture. Everywhere you look, you’ll find gorgeous pops of colour, cheeky artwork and quirky design that have kept this country manor looking bang up-to-date.

Despite staying at the hotel as a couple, what really impressed us was the warm family feel that the hotel had, despite the high design aesthetic. From several generations laughing over a game of Monopoly in the lounge to the more recently-introduced giant lawn games that we also gave a good go, Cowley Manor manages to keep its elegance, while being relaxed, welcoming and cool.

Just a ten-minute drive from Cheltenham, Cowley Manor’s bright and spacious rooms offer a convenient and sanctuary-like Cotswold staycation, with the option for Gloucestershire day guests to soak-up the facilities in the stunning C-Side Spa and restaurant too.

C-Side Spa at Cowley Manor

With the autumn rain bucketing down outside, Cowley Manor’s C-Side Spa couldn’t have looked more inviting on our afternoon visit. From the serene indoor pool with its wraparound glass walls framing the picturesque gardens, to the outdoor heated pool with its tempting steam drifting into the air, C-Side Spa remains one of the chicest (and most Instagramable) in Gloucestershire – and we couldn’t wait to spend a few hours in the peaceful surroundings.

Using Cowley Manor’s own beautifully-branded Green & Spring products, I had the hour-long back massage, which combined soothing hot stones and kneading to release tension and create a sense of pure tranquillity. And, after sipping on a bright green ‘smoothie of the day’, we took advantage of the steam room, sauna and monsoon showers, before sinking into a good paperback in the relaxation room.

The restaurant at Cowley Manor

Cowley Manor’s elegant, wood-paneled restaurant mirrors the feel of the entire hotel – relaxed and friendly, with a hint of something extra special too: with weekend hotel guests and local families alike all getting together to dive into the modern British menu.

With exceptionally quick and attentive service and a vibrant seasonal menu, we ordered pan-fried scallops to start and a sharing sirloin steak for main course on this visit – particularly impressed by the tender meat. The absolute highlight was dessert, however. The banana panna cotta, with glazed banana and shortbread crumble, is a new dish on the menu that reminded us of banoffee pie, but with more finesse, and will undoubtedly have us returning.

SoGlos loves

Cowley Manor has been a favourite destination for the SoGlos team since it first opened in 2002 and it is a Cotswold hotel we return to time and time again. A go-to choice for Sunday lunch, afternoon tea on the terrace, and spa treatments for special occasions, Cowley Manor has changed and adapted over the past two decades, but always offers a reason to return – most recently is its bottomless brunch.

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For more information see Cowley Manor & C-Side Spa or visit

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