Review by James Dunford Wood, published 3rd December 2010.
The Hotel du Vin in Cheltenham has, in the few years it has been run by the eponymous hotel group, become something of a destination in this spa town. From visiting corporate executives to proud parents of girls at neighbouring Cheltenham Ladies College, to the spymasters of GCHQ, the hotel provides a mix of stylish, well thought out accommodation as well as an informal bistro style dining area.
In common with other properties in this group, the Hotel du Vin Cheltenham feels playful - from the familiar murals in the private dining rooms (which double as useful meeting rooms for corporate functions), through to the rooms named after wines and wine producers - the model here is based on a clever 'sponsorship' of rooms by well known wine brands.
The public spaces are light, airy and informal. The great advantage of this hotel is the building, a converted regency town house with large floor to ceiling sash windows and elegant period features. Much of the interior has been gutted and thoroughly remodelled, but they have managed to retain the airy feel of the original. Downstairs the French bistro style restaurant serves simple and affordable classics, and is a favourite with locals. Their wine list is extensive, with an unbeatable selection of vintages and fine champagnes. Outside is a cosy 'cigar shack', heated in winter, where spies can exchange gossip behind a pungent smokescreen.
The bedrooms vary according to the part of the building you are in. The suites are enormous, housed in a number of the original reception rooms with the period features preserved. However, there the period ends - with bathtubs in the middle of the room and open showers behind glass partitions, the suites are geared to playful indulgence. Random 'period' props add character - old leather suitcases and hat boxes, for example. Although the standard doubles are compact with lower ceilings, all feature handsprung mattresses, fine linen, deep baths and power showers as standard. These rooms can often be booked at discounted rates in quieter periods.
Recently there have been a spate of new boutique openings in Cheltenham, so the du Vin is having to up its game. But as the original boutique offering in this town, and with its enviable central position in stylish Montpellier (with excellent shopping on its doorstep), the du Vin remains a dependable destination with great service and consistent standards.