It's still winter. STILL!! It feels like we've been wearing half a dozen layers of wool, 3 jackets and Uniclo's finest HeatTech for at least 9 months and yet here we are, surrounded by grey skies and drizzle (STILL!), and a second round of head colds is starting to make its way around the office. Will it ever END?? (*clutches forehead*)
Fortunately, I'm off to Australia in a few days (*hearty evil cackle*, see ya later) but sometimes it's easy to blow off the winter blues a little closer to home. I am a summer person (with the freckles to prove it), and so I am, by necessity, a big believer at laughing in the face of winter by treating oneself to a little bit of luxury just when the chill is starting to get you down. That would be right about the time the Tube stops running leaving you standing in the rain with a newspaper on your head for the 2nd week running. I want an escape to the countryside, a long, boozey pub lunch and - if you're lucky - a bath like this in your bedroom...IN YOUR FACE, WINTER!
Aaah, that bath. I actually fell asleep in it.
We were recently invited to stay at the Hotel Du Vin in Cheltenham. A hotel with a reference to wine in the title had me intrigued from the outset, as did the location in a Regency spa town, in the beautiful region that is the Cotswolds.
First, our room. So spacious and stylish, with the bestest, most comfortable bath I've ever been in, hands down. It's like the thing has been bespoke tailored to fit your body then injected with relaxation fluid. It's in the bedroom, rather than the bathroom, so don't be shy.
Only the first half hour of WiFi is free and the TV is quite small. But the bed and the shower head are massive - so it easily balances out favourably. I also loved the huge windows which maximised the sunny spells.
The wine theme is evident throughout the hotel - each room is named after a wine maker, there are black and white wine themed photographs lining the hallways and even a chandelier made of wine glasses (I want).
The bistro is cosy and romantic - eat great quality, rustic fare by candlelight, surrounded by wine bottles. The style is classic French bistro but, aside from a few staples, the chef at each Hotel du Vin has the freedom to put his own stamp on the menu, while following a local and home grown philosophy.
There's a lovely seafood sharing platter, packed with fish, calamari, whitebait and pickled vegetables for £14.95. The tartiflette is a gorgeously creamy mix of reblochon cheese, cream, potato and lardons - perfect for dipping the thick cut slices of fresh, white baguette (£6.50).
The battered fish and chips are fine (£11.95), but nothing special - although I do love the cute little wire rack holding the crispy thick cut chips. However, my wondrously tender and rich coq au vin was superb - up there with the coq au vin I had at Pastis in best ever league. Oomph!
Another highlight is the fabulous platter of desserts - romance on a plate. There's a champagne jelly with strawberries, a tart passionfruit semi freddo, meringue with cream and strawberries and a heavenly chocolate mousse encased in a white chocolate casing, topped with fresh raspberries.
The food is excellent value, but the bistro also offers special deals - like a 2 course meal for 2 with a bottle of wine and coffee for £35.
There's even a sleek looking tasting/wine pairing room for small groups, and a heated cigar shack out the back.
And there's no way I was leaving without checking out the hotel's spa - try the steam room, or book a massage to really get that winter detox happening.
The Hotel du Vin is located in the Montpelier district of Cheltenham. It would be a great base for exploring the countryside, Bath and Stratford Upon Avon. IN YOUR FACE WINTER!
Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cheltenham, Parabola Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 3AQ (Tel: 01242 588 450)
Greedy Diva was a guest of the Hotel Du Vin & Bistro, but our beautiful room would have cost approx £165 per night during February 2011.