Like putting on your lipstick and donning a pair of heels, the town of Cheltenham dramatically changes its image from day to night during Cheltenham Gold Cup week. Whilst this usually sedate town empties during the day, the tide of racegoers floods back in late afternoon, to celebrate or commiserate their day at Prestbury Park. To help you decide where to go, I’ve used my local knowledge to put together my list of best bars Cheltenham Race Week.
I love the buzz of Cheltenham during race week. Irish accents and all patterns of tweed mix with the locals. Bars and restaurants really make the most of this week in March, as punters get their fill and spill out onto the pavements. If you can’t quite decide where to try, this is my Top 7 list of the best evenings out in Cheltenham Race Week.
Where to find the best bars Cheltenham Race Week
The Clarence Social, Regent Street
The Clarence Social is in the centre of town. It kicks off Race Week with a Cheltenham Festival Charity Preview Night on Monday 13th. This will be hosted by ‘At The Races’ Mike Cattermole, and will include a full preview of the week ahead, a charity auction and a glimpse of the Gold Cup itself. Tickets must be booked in advance of the night.
From Tuesday to Friday, there will be two dinner sittings on The Clarence Social’s mezzanine level. While their Croft & Jones Trading Company speakeasy bar will be open in the evening for drinks. You’ll feel like you’ve headed back to the prohibition era, but take note this is a tiny bar with no standing room. They have a great gin menu and choice of spirits and cocktails.
The Bottle of Sauce, Ambrose Street
This relatively new watering hole is a cool neighbourhood bar. And they’re really getting into the spirit of their first ever Race Week. Every night from Tuesday to Friday, there’ll be a pop up Guinness bar in the courtyard, to save queueing at the bar.
On Thursday, The Bottle of Sauce will be running a Paddy’s Day warm-up party with live DJs from 6pm till late. On Friday, there will be a Gold Cup Blow Out featuring back-to-back DJs playing funk, soul, disco and house from 5pm til late. Burgers and pizzas are served until10pm.
No.131, The Promenade
Opposite the Queens Hotel and Imperial Gardens, you’ll find the beautiful regency building of No.131. Walk around the side to find the entrance of their buzzy bar Crazy 8s.
Every night from 6pm, the Lucky Onion Collective DJ will be throwing some tunes. Outside on the terrace, tap your toes to Stompin’ Dave. Plates of locally sourced food are on offer until 9.30pm (or 10.30pm on Gold Cup Friday). Wash it all down with their specially created Lucky Six cocktails.
Queens Hotel, The Promenade
This grand dame of Cheltenham is one of the town’s most iconic landmarks. It’s not necessarily the place that locals would think to go, but you could bump into owners, trainers or a celebrity or two.
The Queens’ very appropriately named Gold Cup bar is open from 10am until late every day. Or for those who like their fizz, the Champagne Bar opens from 6pm. The head chef has crated a special a la carte menu for raceweek in the Napier Restaurant. There will be live music and a DJ every day of the festival.
Cosy Club, The Brewery
The Cosy Club is the most recent addition to the Cheltenham bar and restaurant scene. It comes alive at night with its eclectic 1930s décor, music, chandeliers and mix of vintage sofas and chairs.
If you want a protein fest to set yourself up for a night on the town, try the Brigadier Burger with two burgers, pulled pork and chorizo in a bun. Vegetarian and lighter options are available too. The best bit though is the cocktails (two for £9.95 Sunday to Friday 4pm to 8pm). I’m rather partial to a 1920s Strawberry and Basil Gimlet or Cosy Hemingway.
The Tavern, Royal Well Place
The Tavern is serving its Michelin Bib Gourmand food from 8am to midnight throughout Race Week. I can’t speak highly enough of their deliciously, juicy burgers.
Their resident vinyl DJ will be serving up hip hop every night from 8pm. You can dance the night away with some unique cocktails and boozy slushies. If you like a bit of a kick, I’d recommend the Escobar – a tequila cocktail with a whole red chilli.
Sup & Chow, Bath Road
If you want to avoid the craziness of the town centre, head up to the top of Bath Road to a local pub with a community atmosphere – The Sup & Chow. Bath Road is a good place to find the best bars Cheltenham Race Week, as there are a few to choose from in a concentrated area. There are also some great Indian restaurants if you fancy a curry after a long day of racing.
At the Sup & Chow, satisfy your hunger with a burger or authentic Italian pizza for dinner. Celebrate or not with a glass of bubbles, stout or espresso martini. There will be live music every night.
Do you have any tips for the best bars Cheltenham Race Week? I’d love to hear them.