Yesterday, my sister and I headed to Cheltenham to review the DoubleTree by Hilton. Whilst we were in the area, we decided to check out a rather unusual activity. My husband bought me a gin-making experience for my birthday and it happened to be in Cheltenham. So we left the car at the hotel and headed off to Brennan and Brown to learn how to make gin.
The gin making lab experience at Brennan and Brown is so much in-depth than gin tasting. On arrival, we were shown the gin lab and given a rundown of the botanicals. We were able to choose three main botanicals, which are the flavours that stand out in the gin. Every gin has to contain juniper berries, which must be the main botanical for it to be classed as gin. Then we added some additional botanicals to give the gin body and a nice after-kick.
The next step was to grind our botanicals, mix them with the alcohol and put them into the evaporators. Whilst we waited for our gin to be ready, we had a guided tour of the main lab where they produce gin that they sell to the public. We then tasted some different gins in the bar and came back to bottle the gin that we had produced. I went for elderflower, lemongrass and thyme as my main botanicals and I was incredibly pleased with the result when I tried it with some tonic at the end of the tasting experience.
Checking into the DoubleTree by Hilton
We ended up checking into the DoubleTree by Hilton before we went over to Brennan and Brown. This was due to the fact that we’d be drinking gin so I didn’t want to have to drive. So we called into the hotel to leave the car at about midday. I was incredibly impressed that our room was already available, so they gave us the key and we put everything in the room and had some lunch in the bar before heading over to Brennan and Brown. They also gave us one of their famous warm DoubleTree cookies each on arrival. The perfect welcome!
Our bedroom was everything you would expect from the Hilton. Light and airy on arrival, with a lovely ensuite bathroom. There were also comfortable beds and blackout curtains which led to one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in years!
The DoubleTree by Hilton is in Charlton Kings on the outskirts of Cheltenham. In front of the hotel is a pub, and at the back it looks out onto a golf course. It is a really beautiful setting and our room overlooked the golf course. It’s great to have a room with a view.
We had dinner in the Lakeside restaurant. My only criticism of the vegetarian options on the menu is that they were all very rich and heavy. The two starters were both full of cheese, the main was either a cheese dish or a curry and the desserts were all very rich. We both loved the food we had, but I’d have liked to have seen lighter options such as a vegetarian salad on the menu.
For a starter, my sister and I both went for the walnut crust Somerset goat’s cheese with red wine poached pears and apricot relish. This was absolutely delicious. The pear cut through the richness of the goat’s cheese and the apricot relish complemented it perfectly. The relish was full of big pieces of apricot and was the perfect accompaniment to this dish.
As a main, my sister went for the oatmeal crusted Scottish salmon with parsnip and butternut puree, grilled asparagus, crab and baby potato salad. She said that this was the first time she’d had oatmeal with salmon and she would definitely have it again. It was beautifully presented and looked like a real treat.
My main was Dhiraj’s home-made vegetable kofta curry served with basmati rice, naan bread, mango chutney and mini poppadum. This was a fabulous dish. The flavour of the curry was slightly spicy but not excessively hot. The rice was cooked to perfection and the poppadum and mango chutney were a great accompaniment.
My sister and I both went for the same option for dessert. After all, who could resist a warm chocolate and salted caramel fondant with vanilla ice-cream? This was absolutely delicious, with a really runny chocolate centre. The vanilla ice-cream set it off perfectly.
The Cheltenham Spa and Leisure Club
If I had to sum up our stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton in one word, the word I’d use is “relaxing”. This was helped immensely by the chilled out spa. There is a large gym, a good sized swimming pool and a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. There are also several treatment rooms offering a variety of treatments. We spent time in the pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room both before dinner and after breakfast. It wasn’t too busy and I felt totally relaxed and refreshed by the time I left.
There’s nothing I love more than a good hotel breakfast and the DoubleTree by Hilton didn’t disappoint. There was a hot and cold buffet with tea, coffee or cappuccino and a variety of juices. I sampled cooked breakfast, fruit and pastries so I could provide a full review. It was a tough job but somebody had to do it. Well actually, it wasn’t a tough job at all because it was fabulous.
I have always loved Cheltenham and wasn’t surprised that we had such a brilliant short break there. Next time I stay in Cheltenham, I will definitely book into the DoubleTree by Hilton again. And for anyone who is in the area and looking for something fun to do, I can highly recommend the Brennan and Brown gin lab experience.