In just over three years, The Lucky Onion has developed a reputationREVIEW: No.131 and The Tavern, Cheltenham ***** as the coolest hotel and restaurant chain in the Cotswolds. Michael Purton ate at The Tavern and spent the night at No. 131 to find out whether all the praise is deserved.

No. 131, on The Promenade in Cheltenham, is the flagship of The Lucky Onion, a collection of boutique hotels and restaurants in the Cotswolds launched in 2014.

Since then, No. 131 has come in for praise from Tatler and The New York Times among others, helping the hotel and its bar, Crazy Eights, become known as ‘the place to be seen’ in affluent Cheltenham with a host of celebrities among its repeat customers.

Set in a striking Georgian Grade II listed townhouse, No. 131 comprises of a restaurant and bar, which are split over two floors, a large lobby/sitting room and 11 individually furnished bedrooms for guests.

Of course, Cheltenham is teeming with trendy bars and grand hotels, so what makes No. 131 stand out? Style – the places oozes elegance. In the restaurant, vast Georgian sash windows overlook an Art Deco-inspired bar and a huge wall-mounted neon crucifix; it sounds like an unholy clash, but it works perfectly.

The same can be said of the bedrooms. There are reconditioned antique radiators, Rogeat Lyon baths dating back to 1875, artworks by the likes of Henry Hudson and David Hockney, Egyptian cotton bed linen, hot water bottles with hand knitted woollen covers, iPod docking stations, Loewe TVs with the full Sky entertainment package, and large walk-in drench showers. It all combines into a superb mixture of luxury and intrigue.

The lower ground floor of Crazy Eights is the more vibrant space, with a courtyard with an outdoor fire, two private dining rooms (one with an open fire and DJ area), the main bar and games room. On the upper ground floor there is a more low-key and elegant dining space, with a bar, small library, sitting room and a bigger private dining room.

Elegant was the word that kept coming to mind as my companion and I relaxed in our room and then enjoyed a pre-dinner drink in the lounge, where there are plush sofas, views of Imperial Square and a broad selection of magazines and newspapers.

Having eaten at No. 131 before, I can say that the food is excellent, but on this evening we decided to dine at The Tavern, just around the corner in Royal Well Place.

With a recently revamped menu, and a Michelin Bib Gourmand to its name – the award for less formal eateries – The Tavern was unsurprisingly busy on the Saturday night we visited but, as in keeping with the rest of The Lucky Onion ‘family’, everything was still calm and collected.

We were seated instantly and served as soon as we looked up from the menu, and said menu – the work of Ronnie Bonetti, previously of Soho House Group, and Head Chef James de Jong – is superb, with delicious food from Europe and beyond.

To start, I chose the clams with Dunkerton’s cider and samphire (£9.50) whilst my better half opted for the Isle of Wight tomatoes with basil and buffalo mozzarella (£8.50). For main, I had the Old Spot pork Milanese with garlic butter and parmesan (£15.50) and a side of chilli cheese fries (£4.50) and she went for the Loch Duart salmon with shitake, ginger and Asian greens (£17.50) and sweet potato fries on the side (£4.50). To finish off, I shared my sticky toffee ice cream sandwich (£6) with her and, as the portion was so generous, I wasn’t too resentful of her eating almost half.

With the aforementioned awards and praise, I was expecting outstanding food and I wasn’t disappointed. Everything was delicious and perfectly presented, and the drinks were also memorable, with the Dunkerton’s Premium Cider (£5 a pint) and Vignerons Reunis Val de Loire Sauvignon blanc (£6/£8/£24) particularly good.

After our meal, we returned to No. 131 for a drink in Crazy Eights – a Hendrick’s gin and tonic (£5) and another glass of the Sauvignon blanc – which, at close to 11pm, was in full swing for the evening, with the still-standing members of a wedding party playing pool in the games room and a 40th birthday bash in one of the dining rooms. Despite being so busy, there was still that relaxed Lucky Onion vibe as we were served instantly, easily found a table and the music was at a volume which allowed conversation.

We took the next drink up to our room where we made the most of the under-window bathtub before sinking into the super-kingsize bed and enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep insulated from the noise of Crazy Eights below.

Breakfast was served in the ground floor restaurant and comprised of a decent selection of cereals, fresh fruit and breads as well as cooked fare including a wide range of egg dishes, and the coffee was as good as you’d get in any barista-staffed café, so good in fact that we decided to spend the whole morning after checkout drinking lattes and reading in the lounge as the autumnal wind rippled the turning leaves on the Prom outside.

That’s probably the best compliment I can give No. 131: you don’t want to leave. Staying there, you’re immersed in a world of chic luxury where entire mornings are spent just reading, far away from the pace and cares of everyday life, and when you leave that serene bubble you find yourself feeling down for the rest of the day – you just want to go back.


Rooms start from £120 per night including bed and breakfast. See

The rest of The Lucky Onion ‘family’

The Chequers: A bustling village pub with simple furnishings in spacious bars and dining rooms with a friendly relaxed atmosphere. Church Road, Churchill, Oxfordshire, OX7 6NJ. 01608 659 393.

The Wild Duck: A Cotswold inn brimming with rich history and ideal for a feast or just a round of drinks in front of the roaring open fire. Drakes Island, Ewen, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6BY. 01285 770 310.

The Wheatsheaf Inn: A traditional coaching inn, with 14 bedrooms and a restaurant serving local seasonal food and drink. West End, Northleach, Gloucestershire, GL54 3EZ 01451 860 244.

No. 38 The Park: A beautiful 13-bedroom Georgian townhouse with individual rooms to stay in and also the option to book out the whole property for special occasions. 38 Evesham Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 2AH 01242 822 929.

Christmas with The Lucky Onion

The Lucky Onion hosts an array of special events and introduces festive menus at all of its venues for the Christmas season, including party bookings, from November 27 through to January 7.

You can also have Christmas Day and dinner at No.131, and spend New Year’s Eve there with a special tasting menu and a late-night party.

For groups, there are set lunch and supper menus available for parties of six or more at No.131, The Tavern, The Wheatsheaf, The Wild Duck and The Chequers and parties of 20 or more at No.38 The Park.

Among the special events in the run up to Christmas season is a gig by the internationally-renowned DJ Yoda at Crazy Eights on Friday, November 10.

Then, at No.38 The Park on Thursday, November 23, acclaimed Spanish chef Jose Pizarro is hosting a tapas night.

See for details on both.