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“Superb, relaxing and stylish”
Review of Cowley Manor

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Cowley Manor
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Cowley
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 28 March 2014

Superb and unique. We stayed two nights and I can honestly say that this is one of the best experiences of a hotel/spa that I have ever had. Cowley Manor is tucked away in a tiny village, away from the hustle and bustle. Combining a lovely old manor house building and stable block with modern, stylish, comfortable design and chic but unpretentious and warm atmosphere and a superb spa/pool area. There are large, lovely gardens also. The main building has a grand sandstone facade – and inside is a combination of original features and Swedish style modern design, with relaxing areas and a bar and separate restaurant etc. We stayed in a room titled ‘exceptional’, in the coach house, just in front of the main building. The bedroom had a large floor area, and was very comfortable, with a separate, private balcony which had loungers and chairs. The room included a king sized bed, plenty of pillows, large soft cotton towels, robes, a bath area in the room with separate shower/loo, tea/coffee, a kettle, real coffee maker, mini bar and fridge, large television, bose docking station, CD player, and like the rest of the hotel, the room was stylish, clean and well maintained. It is clear that the owners have made a considerable investment in the building and all of the facilities. Some ‘coach house’ type buildings in hotels pale in comparison to the main building – however, the out buildings accommodation at Crowley was part of the original set of buildings and so blends in very well. It is also just a few yards from the stunning spa and pool(s). Entering the spa, we were handed robes and towels and there is a very relaxed and warm atmosphere, with a sitting area (food and drinks can be ordered), great steam room, gym, sauna and two pools – an indoor 17 mtr pool, which has a slate lining and a properly heated outdoor pool. This area of the hotel is really impressive architecturally. The spa and pools are open nearly all day until late in the evening – and were never crowded. . There are treatments available. I have never been to a hotel with a better spa/pool area. I did read a review that suggested it was ‘dingy’ – I find this astonishing, as it is so far from the truth. The staff in the hotel were warm and accommodating – efficient but not intrusive. The owners seemed to have a very clear idea of what they want to achieve in terms of atmosphere and service. We didn’t eat in the restaurant, however, the bar area serves food all day and evening – the food was fresh, well prepared and stylish/unpretentious. Breakfast was very good – a buffet for cereals, fresh fruit etc and waiter service for cooked – which was very good indeed. At £155 a night including breakfast – the hotel was very good value. Congratulations to the staff and owners.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank BillB12342014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 25 March 2014

Cowley Manor was a pleasant find. We had two rooms, one for us and one for our teenagers; the two rooms were opposite each within a private corridor which had its own entrance door. We had an “exceptional” room with a Lake view and the teenagers had a “Good room” which was a twin with a front view. Their room had a nice modern art deco type bathroom. Our view was fantastic; you could remain on the balcony for your whole stay if you were so inclined and feel very relaxed.

As a family we appreciate historical buildings and their settings but we do like it when it is merged with modern facilities and rooms that are not full of chintz, which they seem to have achieved nicely here.

We did not use the spa treatments only the indoor and out door pool, the outdoor pool is heated so even in the cold weather this felt like a nice treat. There is also a sauna and a steam room.

The restaurant food was very nice, although the table next to us had a dinner rate and we did not, so with the four of us the dinner bill was quite expensive.

Our teenage son loved the warm welcome drink and the staff kindly gave him the recipe, (which incidentally we have tried twice and not managed to get right yet but we will keep trying!!). For us it was a flying visit but if we have the need to visit the area again we would return. As we left on the Sunday wedding preparations were underway, there is a lovely little church on the grounds, and I can only imagine that it is an amazing wedding venue.

The staff were very nice, although on arrival (as we were early) seemed a bit harassed/busy, but were most pleasant thereafter especially a lady that seemed to be the manager, but apologies I cannot remember her name.

All in all a lovely hotel.

Room Tip: Lake view with a balcony was lovely
  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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Thank KentMadmum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 March 2014

My daughter and son treated me to afternoon tea as an early Mothers Day present, a really lovely, relaxing and tasty experience. Staff so friendly and helpful, we have some food allergies and they catered round us, and didn't need reminding when we arrived. A charming receptionist gave us a short tour despite the hotel being busy with a wedding party. Nothing was too much trouble, we will return.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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3  Thank Jo J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 March 2014

Super super hotel. The staff were so friendly and the room (especially the bathroom) was awesome.
The swimming pools are lovely and the spa good too (personally I'm not a spa expert but my girlfriend said it was her best ever!)
My only small criticism is that the wifi was rather patchy in the hotel

Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
Thank Daniel68london
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 March 2014

We stayed here to celebrate a special birthday for my husband. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The staff were warm and friendly and we felt treated like royalty from the time we arrived. The parking area is quite small and we managed to squeeze into the last parking space available, but when we got to reception we were greeted by a friendly team of receptionists and given a warming lemon, ginger and honey drink with hot towels - a nice thought. The receptionist seemed to be new and a little unsure of the processes to book us in but the others helped her and we didn't mind a bit.

In general, we absolutely loved the room - we were in a 'better' room in the stable block, spread across 3 floors. The kingsize bed was wonderful and comfortable, all the linen very high quality (as you would expect at a place like CM), the bathroom facilities were great and I loved the Green & Spring toiletries, which are specifically designed in partnership with CM. The wet room shower, deep bath and his & hers sinks were great. I only have a couple of minor criticisms about the room - firstly, we were provided with a coffee machine for good quality coffee, which was great, but there was no milk provided. Secondly we weren't shown how to operate the light in the toilet (which wasn't immediately clear, the switch being on the other side of the room) and it took us a little while to work this out. Finally, the promised wi-fi didn't materialise in our room - in fact we had no mobile signal at all - we were advised that signal was better in the main house but even there it was a bit patchy. The extensive list of music and movies available was a lovely touch as well, though it was the last weekend of the 6 Nations so we were quite happy with the TV!

We didn't book any treatments but did take advantage of the steam room, sauna and both pools. The pools were both lovely, particularly the indoor pool - the slate pool tiles and the constant depth across the pool were great (particularly for someone used to swimming once a week in a local public pool!) The water was wonderfully clean and the temperature just right - we used these facilities on both days of our stay. We were very lucky with the weather and it was wonderful to be able to swim before breakfast in the heated outdoor pool too.

The restaurant had a lovely atmosphere and the staff were very friendly if a little clumsy! At first we were seated in the bar for a drink - although we had booked a table in the restaurant there seemed no urgency to seat us and after a while my husband had to ask one of the staff when we would be seated. Also while we were in the bar, the barman dropped another couple's cocktail which shattered all over the floor.

When we got to the restaurant we were brought a little amuse-bouche of a battered cod ball with tartare sauce - the waitress tipped my husband's onto the table accidentally when serving him and had to bring him another. The food was good - my husband had the duck to start with sweet elements of hazelnut and blackberry, which he loved. I had the monkfish, which was perfectly nice, though not amazing. For the main my husband had the beef fillet, which again he said was fabulous - I had the sea bass, perfectly cooked and deliciously sweet though I felt the dish was perhaps a little bland considering the price. We shared a dessert - the waitress was very pleasant and the wine list was good. Another of the waiters also dropped and broke a glass while we were eating - perhaps they need some training!

We both loved the breakfast, which we ate on the terrace overlooking the beautiful grounds - I had sweet waffles and my husband the cooked breakfast - both were delicious. However, my husband was brought a rack of toast with no plate to butter it on, and we were not provided with any sugar for our coffee and had to ask. All the staff were extremely pleasant and friendly however.

On the whole, our experience at CM was excellent. As with almost any stay elsewhere, there were a few very minor things which could have been improved but these did not spoil our enjoyment of the visit. I would recommend CM to any visitor looking for a bit of luxury and pampering - it certainly provided these for us!

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank clmg22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 February 2014

I had heard such great things about CM from a friend in the design business that is was a natural choice to try for a birthday long weekend. Prices are quite high for where it sits in the market but liked the photography and the juxtaposition of modern design in a period shell. Arrived to a rammed parking lot so wedged our car in and brought in the bags (no porter). First impression of reception is that is spartan and rather knackered. Bits missing out of the reception desk etc, etc. Uncomfortable furniture (Moroso I think) in slightly odd locations. Arrival drink is warm ginger, lemon, honey water with hot towel.Very nice. Receptionist was lovely, unfortunately it was her duty to drag our mountain of luggage up to our room in her high heels and skirt. Felt wrong.
Walking thorough the sitting room on the way to the stairs confronted by lots of toys scattered on the floor, lots of children and lots of stressed parents. Very child friendly but if you are looking for a romantic getaway there are two major caveats: avoid school holidays and avoid weddings. We had both for 2 days and neither for 2 days and the difference was unbelievable.
The room (a 'great' room in the main house) was alright. Spartan and a bit knackered. More uncomfortable Scandi style furniture (rock hard sofa and two minute cushions). I see the effect they were going for - contemporary European minimise with with a twist of Scandinavian colour and quirk, it's just not done that well and it is knackered. The problem with minimalism is that is shows every flaw. Like a Phillipe Stark hotel, they look funky by candlelight, tired by daylight. It wasn't a room we wanted to spend much time in. Tried watching the Olympics one day but the TV signal (free-view only) was rubbish and the seating was uncomfortable. The hotel wifi is pretty weak and inconsistent and phone signals patchy with no data so don't expect to be facetimeing and downloading much. I would have expected the room to have great lighting, scene setting controls, comfortable furniture, throws and cushions. It didn't. The king size bed has such a huge valley in the join at the centre that you really have to sleep on the edge of the bed and can't go near your partner. There was a little corner fireplace hidden behind the large uncomfortable sofa. Could not use or see it. We were woken at 7am every morning by the sound of children stomping and playing which continued all day. The room would shake. Ringing reception did not help.
Food and service were quite good but inconsistent. You generally have to go to the bar to get yourself a drink in the evening. The music is quite loud and dancey in the evenings. We were eventually driven out by one wedding guest watching a complete football match on his iphone at full volume and a child watching cartoons on his iPad at full volume all trying to compete with the dance music. It was like a awful beach experience with 3 radios going at once. The service in the dining room is excellent and the food was generally good. Avoid anything battered and deep fried - there was always one great appetiser (scallops) and the rest were pub quality (breaded 'prawns'). Breakfast is great. Don't expect the dining experience to be anything special. The tableware and flatware would not be out of place in a pub. You get your evening highball in a canteen water glass. No thought put into the little things. One bouquet of dead roses and hydrangeas on the mantelpiece, would not look out of place in Miss Havisham's drawing room. Nothing on the tables. The house was converted to a care home etc for decades so little period detail left save the exquisite panelled dining room which is let down by the interior design.
The grounds are lovely but hard to access. You can't walk around the building. The french doors from the house to the garden are an experience. Some are screwed shut. Some don't close properly. If you go out there is no way to close them so they just blow around until someone comes and locks them closed (and you out). At coffee one particularly windy morning the set in the centre of the sitting room exploded open with unbelievable force in to the room sending a table, coffee, water and hot wax flying across guests and terrifying the poor woman sitting in the window table. It was a miracle the windows didn't shatter. Apparently it happens often so avoid theses seats.
The 'spa' experience was a big draw for us but disappointing. The indoor pool was very stuffy and airless and the lounge chairs are rock hard with no pads or neck rests so you wont want to be there very long. It was almost impossible to find a chair because every one had piles of used towels, magazines, newspapers, and empty glasses scattered about so you could not tell what was being 'held' or just left in a mess. There is no food or beverage service in the pool.
Housekeeping was a little chaotic. Lots of burnt out bulbs, lampshades akimbo, stereo didn't work, had it replaced. No one showed us how to operate anything in the room so we never figured out the bathroom stereo. The first few hours we were there it seemed we spent the whole time on the phone trying to sort out basic housekeeping requirements. Nespresso machine in the room, great! But the capsules (only 5 of them) were crushed and unusable. The machine didn't fit on the tray it was placed upon. We kept it unplugged anyway because you there are no normal sockets in the vast bathroom for hairdryers etc - plugging anything in involved crawling around and moving furniture.
Having stayed in many similar country house hotels in the region we both felt we got about 50-60% of what we paid for.
It has the potential to be a 5 star experience and maybe it was at one time. The entire enterprise could use a serious refresh, much more attention to detail and rigorous management. If you do go, time it carefully.
I have stayed at other similar properties many times a struggle to think of a single complaint, at CM I had the inverse experience. OK but not worth it.

Room Tip: The rooms in the old stable blocks don't seem to have much privacy - they all look into communal...
  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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7  Thank GMaxuk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 February 2014

With so much competition, the only reason you go back to a place is because it’s really good. Cowley Manor is really good, that’s why you’ll find repeat guests and others who’ve booked after a personal recommendation.

A good looking building with some modern twists, extremely helpful and courteous staff and improved food means that this is THE choice in this part of The Cotswolds.

A limited mobile phone signal (depending on carrier), which you might find is a blessing. WiFi is still patchy and quite slow, but is being worked on.

You’ll not go too far wrong here. Enjoy.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Thank ConsumerJournalist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cowley Manor

Address: Near Cheltenham, Cowley GL53 9NL, England
Phone Number:
Region: United Kingdom > England > Cotswolds > Cowley
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Cowley
Price Range: £171 - £544 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Cowley Manor 4*
Number of rooms: 30
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Also Known As:
Cowley Manor Hotel Cowley
Manor Hotel Cowley
Cowley Manor Cotswolds

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