Hotel of the week: The Greenway, Cotswolds

Where is it? In Shurdington, which is basically an undistinguished sprawl of garden centres and car dealerships along the road running south out of Cheltenham. But turn past the Gothic lodge, and wind up the lengthy, leafy drive, and you're in a different world. Address: The Greenway, Shurdington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL51 5UG (tel: 01242 862352; fax: 01242 862780; email: relax@greenway-hotel.demon.co.uk).

Where is it? In Shurdington, which is basically an undistinguished sprawl of garden centres and car dealerships along the road running south out of Cheltenham. But turn past the Gothic lodge, and wind up the lengthy, leafy drive, and you're in a different world. Address: The Greenway, Shurdington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL51 5UG (tel: 01242 862352; fax: 01242 862780; email: relax@greenway-hotel.demon.co.uk).

What's it like? Gracious 17th-century ivy-clad manor house, all twinkling windowpanes and stone mullions, set in extensive gardens (including croquet lawn) and separated from surrounding countryside by a ha-ha.

Ambience? Very welcoming: splendid reception rooms are filled with antiques and china, and boast stone floors, log fires, wood panelling, and chandeliers. Upstairs it's cosy, but less chintzy than many hotels of this type. The effect is luxurious but pared down, and still gemütlich enough for a winter's break.

Rooms? Nineteen in total, of which eight are in the Coach House annex. Prices start at £79 for a single and go up to £290 for the vast Junior Suite with a proper, sturdy four-poster; it has a huge bathroom and great views of the surrounding countryside. Complimentary fruit bowl and decanter of sherry. There are special breaks (two nights' stay, including early morning tea, English breakfast, £35 allowance at dinner and VAT) at £215 per night for a double room.

Service? A very English welcome, but everything turns Francophile in the serious, hushed restaurant. Charming young staff perform with a flourish, but have occasional whispered arguments in French while standing in corners.

Food and drink? This is the main event. Dinner is £35 (inc VAT) for three complex, intense, well-executed courses. Starters might be cauliflower soup with smoked bacon, wild mushrooms and foie gras, or ravioli of crab with tarragon, baby leeks & seafood froth. Typical main dishes include pavé of Scotch beef with parsnip dauphinoise, glazed shallots, haricot beans and roast field mushrooms, or fillet of turbot, crushed new potatoes, girolles and a light truffle cream. The parsnip crisps adorning our dishes had wilted a bit, but everything underneath was succulent, powerful, and oh, so rich. And it would be a pity to miss out on puddings of the calibre of iced parfait of Greenway honey and praline with caramelised banana or apple tart tatin with cinnamon ice cream. If you really can't make your mind up, there's a tasting menu of lots of little helpings (£44 per person), with accompanying wines for each course (£22 pp). On top of all that, they keep bringing sinful little nibbles like cheese straws and eggcups full of truffly consommé. The wine list has much to offer around the £20 mark and goes on into the stratosphere.

Clientele? Chic, American ladies and their consorts at dinner. At breakfast, a younger, heartier, more English type, and lots of couples.

Things to do? The pre-Roman road from which the hotel takes its name runs alongside it and leads to Long Barrow, the remains of a 5,000-year-old fort. You'll need to walk off all that food. Alternatively, Regency Cheltenham is 10 minutes away, and picturesque old Cotswold towns like Painswick and Stow-on-the-Wold are also within easy driving distance.

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