The Sercret Racegoer’s guide to Cheltenham pubs
After extensive reasearch, with repeat visits to ensure accuracy, the Secret Racegoer marks your card with his selection of best Cheltenhm pubs
You’ve spent a day at the Cheltenham Festival and you’re still buzzing, so what are you going to do in the evening?
You can rule out the Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery, it’s closed for major refurbishment. The Pittville Pump Room doesn’t open during Festival week – they must know something.
The birthplace of Gustav Holst, preserved as it was when the composer was born in 1874, closes af 4.00.
The theatre could be an option, and the Everyman has some great touring productions. After the drama of Prestbury Park you could go and see Fatal Attraction starring Louise Redknapp.
The first night has already sold out so tickets might be a bit scarce. But at least you’ve missed The Osmonds: a new musical. That finished the week before.
That leaves the pub. But which one(s)? As a service to Racing Hub visitors, the Secret Racegoer has undertaken lengthy and arduous research to compile a shortlist of some of the best Cheltenham pubs to help you fill the gap between one day’s racing and the next.
The Beehive – Trip Advisor rating 4 out of 5
1-3 Montpellier Villas, Cheltenham GL50 2XE
A regency-style building with Victorian features, the Beehive has three rooms leading off the main bar plus a garden. There’s a good selection of ales, craft lagers and craft beers.
And there’s a high-ceilinged dining room on the first floor serving locally sourced ingredients with a menu that’s a cut-above pub grub. The kitchen is somewhat small so service can be slow, but who’s in a rush when there’s drinking to be done?
Bentleys – Trip Advisor 4 out of 5
76 High Street, Cheltenham GL50 1EG
If it hasn’t been a winning day at the races, there’s a potential consolation prize waiting for you at Bentleys. For £1, you can flip a coin with a member of the bar staff and if you call heads or tails correctly, you get the same round for just the pound.
As well as the usual selection of beers, Bentleys prides itself on a range of cocktails including cherry bakewell, raspberry bon bon, rhubarb mule and strawberry fields.
It’s unlikely they’ll count towards your five-a-day and more likely that five will necessitate medicinal recovery in the morning. Indeed, Bentleys closes at 4am so maybe take the Paracetamol with you.
Circus Bar – Trip Advisor 4 out of 5
5 Queens Circus, Cheltenham GL50 1RX
Be advised, this is a Samuel Smiths pub, and some of you will be already moving on to the next entry. In truth, the Secret Racegoer wouldn’t be far behind you. But their pubs are incredibly cheap and this one is centrally located and has garnered four stars from Trip Advisor reviewers.
To his shame, the Secret Racegoer knew to ask for a “Man in the Box” when ordering the cooking lager. But that was many years ago when he was young and didn’t know better.
If you’re not familiar with the Sam Smiths pubs, everything, and that means everything, is own-brand. So, the response “Pepsi will do” won’t do here.
DEYA Brewing Company Tap Room
27 Lansdown Industrial Estate, Gloucester Rd, Cheltenham GL51 8PL
A variation on pubs is DEYA, a brewery with a tap room. DEYA is bit off the beaten track, not far from Cheltenham Spa station which, as everyone knows, is very much off the beaten track apart form those upon which the trains run.
Established in 2015, all DEYA’s beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and suitable for vegans apart from beers which use lactose – these beers will clearly state if they do.
Their beers are naturally hazy as a result of recipe and process decisions. It’s up to you not to get into the same condition as your evening progresses.
Feathered Fish – Trip Advisor 3.5 out of 5
104-106 Winchcombe Street, Cheltenham GL52 2NW
With a little bit of a detour, you walk across Pittville Park, the Feathered Fish is on the way back to the town from the racecourse. Recently refurbished, it’s located in a gentrified part of Cheltenham (isn’t everywhere in Cheltenham?) so it’s got the nice feel of a popular local.
It’s not long been refurbished with a clash of modern decor, heavy on blue walls, with traditional pub furniture, but it somehow works.
But what is a “feathered fish”? It’s a Hollywood term for a film that doesn’t swim and doesn’t fly. In other words, it ain’t got a market.
Rotunda Tavern – Trip Advisor 3.5 out 5
3 Montpellier Street, Cheltenham GL50 1SX
A proper, cosy, wood-panelled pub, but it’s only been serving that purpose since 1965 having been a wine merchant for 100 years. Now, in the course of research, the Secret Racegoer didn’t quite remember the details of every pub visited, and that could be the case here.
But if memory serves him correct, the way to the gents is through a door immediately behind which is a steep flight of stairs down to the toilets. If it’s not the Rotunda, it’s somewhere else, but take care anyway.
Sudeley Arms – Trip Advisor 4.5 out of 5
25 Prestbury Road, Cheltenham GL52 2PN
Dating back to 1826, the Sudley has the highest Trip Advisor rating of the Cheltenham pubs listed and is another conveniently placed for the return journey from the racecourse (as well as Cheltenham Town football ground). It’s got a traditional saloon bar and lounge bar as well as a pool room.
One reason for getting the thumbs-up is that it’s noted for good service.
Tailors Eating House – Trip Advisor 4 out of 5
4 Cambray Place, Cheltenham GL50 1JS
Don’t let the name fool you (either the Tailors bit, or eating house) this is a pub in every sense, bang in the town centre on a pedestrianised street. Even better, it has a reputation for serving the best Guinness for many a mile. It’s not the biggest pub in Cheltenham but it has a sizeable seating area out front.
And that frontage is impressive, ivy clad and features some steep steps up to the entrance. Even climbing them seems daunting, but when coming back out, either with a round of drinks or when enough is enough, the utmost caution is required.
The Bank, 15–21 Clarence Street, Cheltenham GL50 3JL
Moon Under Water, 16-28 Bath Road, Cheltenham GL53 7HA
And so, to ‘Spoons. Not so much for evening drinking, although you’re perfectly welcome if so inclined, but for the legendary breakfast the next morning, so that you can do it all over again! Cheers.
The Secret Racegoer was talking to Mike Deasy
♦ If you disagree with the above, or want to suggest alternative Cheltenham pubs, feel free to Tweet, including @TheRacingHub_ in your message
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