Below is a brief guide to a selection of well known and less well known Cheltenham pubs. A good route for a pub crawl is to start in The Fiery Angel, The Swan or St Paul’s Tavern after the last race before working your way into the Town Centre and up to Montpellier, before finishing in Tivoli or the Suffolks. You can then do the reverse in the morning and repeat the pattern until Friday!
Racecourse side of town
Fiery Angel on Hewlett Road – in the same ownership as The Beehive reviewed below and a similar place ie a well run modern pub with character and atmosphere with a good selection of beers. Well known for its Open Mic night so expect renditions of Cheltenham (Downtown). On the racecourse side so busy with racegoers before and after racing. They do a good breakfast and a free minibus up to the course. A good first stop after the walk back from Prestbury Park.
[Fiery Angel on Facebook]
The Swan, High Street – great pub and friendly atmosphere which has a strong following from locals. Good beer and great service. They make an effort and look after customers well. Heaters and plenty of room outside for smokers or those seeking fresh air.
Après and The Brewery – This Scandinavian style large bar opened in time for Festival 09 and this year is part of the Guinness Village at the Brewery where there will be a live Irish Band; The Roving Crows, a ska/jazz/skiffle band; Thrill Collins and Guinness bars and street entertainment. Lots of TV screens here for watching the racing if you can’t make it to the course and replays in the evening. Some good drinks deals but stick to Guinness (there will be promos) and avoid the Peroni unless you’ve backed at least 2 winners! The Brewery restaurants will be serving breakfasts.
St Paul’s Tavern, St. Paul’s Road – The recently refurbed ‘Tav’ won’t get many mentions elsewhere but is a real find. It’s a really great student/local type pub with great food and excellent prices. If you want somewhere friendly and a bit quieter than town centre pubs this could be the place.
[St Paul’s Tavern on Facebook]
Montys Bar, St. Georges Road – Upmarket and sophisticated basement cocktail bar (part of The George Hotel) that does great cocktails around a tenner each. Good place to celebrate a win with a quick cocktail but it can become cramped as it gets busy.
[Montys Bar website]
Revolution, Clarence Parade – aka Vodka Revs. Large venue with great cocktails, drinks and food range at reasonable prices. Good atmosphere, good music (cranked up as it gets later) and you might even get a seat. My favourite Cheltenham bar. Likely to be an eclectic mix of young fashionably dressed hotties and suited and booted punters. My bank manager has told me not to go this year to avoid the shoulder massage girls.
[Revolution Cheltenham website]
The Bank House, Clarence Steet – aka new Weatherspoons, aka posh Weatherspoons, aka ‘where Que Pasa was’. A new venue for Festival 2010 having opened in October. Only been in once and I read the Racing Post from back to front before I was served. Has gone down well with locals though and Guinness here is about 2/3rds the price of the racecourse. Might be worth a try before the carpets get sticky. A better option than ‘Old Weatherspoons’.
Yates Wine Lodge, Crescent Terrace – Yates err…Wine Lodge? Sounds like a chilled place with 6 different varieties of Sauvignon Blanc. It isn’t. However, the word is that it will be undergoing a refurb the week before race week to become a flagship Yates Wine Lodge. Will this make any difference? Update (09/03/10) Apparently it has made a difference! £300k spent and looks good by all accounts. Re-opens this Friday.
Tailors, Cambray Place – great sports pub with nice open area out front with tables and benches. Easy to spot as it’s a big building covered in Ivy. Plenty of large TV screens both upstairs and in basement bar which will house a live band that shakes the foundations. Good selection of beers and friendly bar staff. Last year they showed re-runs of the races. Also, not a bad place to start the day as they do a hearty breakfast.
[View Tailors on Facebook]
Montpellier Wine Bar – known globally as ‘the Wine Bar’ it’s not to everyone’s taste as viewed as a bit snobby by some. But that’s not the case in Festival week. Great atmosphere and fun to drink outside on the pavement and get involved in some racing banter as punters walk by. I’ve met journos, newspaper photographers, the World Spoof Champion! and a few actors/actresses in here. There are likely to be some mature ladies looking for monied racegoers and new husbands – you have been warned!
[Wine Bar website]
O’Neills, Montpellier Walk – Go here for the best pint of Guinness in town. Great atmosphere, good range of drinks, racing themed, live music and it’s loud. You can eat here if you get back from the course quickly. Has to be the place to go on St Patrick’s Day (Wednesday) where there should be a great Irish Craic fuelled by singing, dancing and Guinness. Expect some promos from the Guinness girls.
The Queens Hotel – Overrated and extremely crowded. Unless you are staying here or have booked a chair in the bar to sleep in (I kid you not!) I wouldn’t bother. Much better to skip the Queens and go to the adjacent Blanc Brasserie cocktail bar which adjoins the hotel. A good place to eat too.
The Jolly Brewmaster, Painswick Road – local type of pub with excellent selection of real ales and several draft ciders. Plenty of room in the garden for smokers. Quite difficult to find (and therefore not as busy as town centre pubs) as in middle of a residential street. Worth seeking out for the good quality drinks and friendly atmosphere.
[Jolly Brewmaster website]
Lansdown Inn – very much a sports pub with even more TV panels than last Festival so great for watching the racing if you can’t make it to the course. Younger punters go here. Quite busy despite not being in the town centre. Good prices. Not a bad place to get a quick dinner after the races alhough it’s the other side of town. The restaurant upstairs is usually quieter than town centre restaurants in Festival week.
The Retreat, Suffolk Parade – Like the Wine Bar lots of suited and booted moneyed punters here eyeing up the horsey hotties (generally ex Cheltenham Ladies College gels) in tweed. Small garden outside for smokers. Smart, trendy, not too busy and everything is red.
The Beehive – the atmosphere really buzzes here. A good modern ‘local’ with a great mixed crowd. Garden outside for smokers. Great choice of real ale, lagers and cider. Good place for chatting to other racegoers and Cheltenham residents. as it’s friendly. Recommended.
[Beehive on Facebook]
What’s on in Cheltenham during Festival week?
For information on what events are happening in and around Cheltenham during Festival week please visit What’s on Glos?