Mercure Gloucester, Bowden Hall Hotel review: an impressive Georgian country house
Set in 12 acres of its own parkland, the hotel’s location is hard to beat
For an overnight break or as a base to explore the Cotswolds, West Country or Wales, the Mercure Gloucester, Bowden Hall Hotel is hard to beat. A four-star, Georgian country house, it’s an impressive, imposing building set in some 12 acres of its own parkland.
On the outside, it’s all very traditional, on the inside, the traditional and the comfortable come with some flair and flourish, with the occasional, appealing and witty artwork to be discovered.
The team are helpful and cheerful, and the hotel is also dog-friendly should your lockdown have resulted in a four-legged addition.
Why come here?
As mentioned above, as a base to explore some of the UK’s prettiest scenery and interesting towns, the location is hard to beat. It sits on the east side of the Cotswolds, some 30 minutes from Bourton-on-the-Water or, indeed, Cheltenham racecourse, while Cardiff and Bristol are around an hour away. At the risk of sounding capital-centric, it’s also two hours from London, making it a feasible, quiet and comfortable spot for a quick overnight break or as an off-site meeting venue.
As hotels go, it’s unlikely to win any design awards any time soon but it functions with comfort, and a very warm welcome. The gin and tonics are also served Spanish style in large goblets, so that’s a definite win…
Eating and drinking
The food and where it can be served is, arguably, Bowden Hall’s biggest USPs. While global in outlook (and in terms of crowd-pleasing), there’s a strong sense of the local and seasonal. Meat comes from local butchers and, where possible, farms. Fish is fresh – the advantage of geography – and modern dining requirements are also well covered, from the vegan to the gluten-free and simple and healthy.
There’s a brasserie (also the breakfast room), a lounge menu and afternoon tea options, room service and, as of 2021, three “VIPods” which proved invaluable when it came to social distancing. Heated and powered, the pods offer a more private experience – away from prying ears or other people’s infectious viruses, of course – and are available for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. They’re fun, and surprisingly warm and well-sealed, with views up to the hotel’s impressive façade and across the lake. It’s a novel approach to the private dining room, and one that has continued to improve and evolve over the last few months, as seasonal challenges appeared.
What to do
You can walk the grounds – and possibly feed the neighbouring horses depending on time of day – but, mostly, you’ll probably use the hotel as a base to explore the region. As mentioned above, the Cotswolds are up there, the West Country and Wales are over there and there’s much local history to enjoy as well. All in all, a very pleasant stay in a very pleasant part of the country. Starting rate is from £62 per night per room.
Mercure Gloucester, Bowden Hall Hotel, Bondend Road, Upton Saint Leonards, Gloucester GL4 8ED; mercuregloucester.co.uk