Stephen Webb gives golf a miss in favour of a massage on a relaxing visit to Tewkesbury Park Hotel

"Darn it, we should have brought the binoculars."

We were sitting on a couch in our room (the King Richard III suite, no less) at the Tewkesbury Park Hotel and gazing out at the countryside sprawled before us. Even on an afternoon dulled and dampened by showers, the view was still impressive.

Directly ahead of us, about 10 miles away, was Gloucester, with the tower of its grand cathedral reaching for the sky. If we turned out heads a little to the left, there were the Cotswolds; to our right lay the Malvern Hills, looking black and foreboding in the springtime murk.

And if we peered just below us, we could see a group of men engrossed in their game of golf. Tewkesbury Park is a golfer's paradise and even on a drizzly Saturday afternoon there were plenty of players wandering the hotel's immaculately kept course.

I'm not a golfer, but I do enjoy an amble in the country (it was Mark Twain who described the game of golf as a good walk spoiled) but sadly the weather put paid to any plans we had for a stroll around the hotel's considerable grounds. But that didn't matter - for a while we just sat and looked out of the window, at the hills, at the patchwork of fields, at the men in silly trousers trying to hit little balls with big sticks.

"Shall we nip down to the bar for a drink?" I asked my wife, eventually.

"Oh all right then," she replied.

That's what's great about a place like Tewkesbury Park - come rain or shine, you could be making use of the hotel's sports facilities (which offer much, much more than golf) or relaxing in the delightful lounge, sipping beer or spritzers while reading newspapers.

It also gave us a chance to research the hotel's history. The present building is believed to have been constructed in the late 18th century, but there has been a house on the site since at the early 14th century.

Tewkesbury Park's past is rich and colourful, and is worth delving into. Violet Salmon would certainly agree with that. Violet inherited the house in 1933 and lived there until her death 40 years later. She strongly believed that her ancestral home was haunted by a poltergeist, which began when she was a child and heard crashes and noises in the house. Doors were seen to open unaided and a mysterious organ could be heard playing, which understandably gave residents, staff and visitors quite a scare.

While the hotel undoubtedly oozes atmosphere, mercifully our stay was poltergeist free - although I gave my wife a start as she lounged on the bed and heard strange voices emanating from the bathroom, before realising it was the football results that I had turned on on the telly in the bathroom before I showered.

The hotel is itself surrounded by history. It overlooks the site of the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury (all nine of the suites at the hotel, like ours, are named after key characters in the battle), the glorious Tewkesbury Abbey is a short distance away, and the town of Tewkesbury itself revels in its heritage.

The hotel is also proud of its past - but also wants to make sure its guests enjoy modern comforts, which is why it recently underwent a multi-million pound renovation and is now a perfect marriage of old and new.

After two pints of very tasty Butty Bach, and research done, I was off to see Amanda. She greeted me with a friendly smile and led me along several corridors to a small room - the location for my pre-dinner massage. I spent a relaxing, stress-stripping hour in Amanda's capable hands - literally, as she kneaded and probed my tired muscles.

Dinner was also a relaxed affair in the Orangery restaurant. We enjoyed three courses from the excellent a la carte menu - our dishes were superbly prepared and presented, with ingredients sourced as locally as possible, and it all tasted delicious.

The Orangery was also where we enjoyed breakfast the next morning. Again there was a great choice, whether you wanted to blow out on a full English (guilty, m'lud) or sample something lighter and healthier.

And talking of good health, the hotel's leisure facilities are first rate. I mentioned the golf - 18 holes taking up a big slice of the grounds' 163 acres. There are also squash and tennis courts and the leisure club's pool, sauna, steam room and gym were all part of the refurbishment.

Facilities like this are important - but people are more important. The service we experienced from the moment we stepped through the door at Tewkesbury Park was fabulous; staff were welcoming and friendly. And everyone was smiling. And while I could have lived with a wobbly toilet seat in our room, my wife couldn't - within five minutes of calling down to reception it was fixed by the young man who arrived with a screwdriver, and a smile.

And if you do want to wander out into the rain and mud, the hotel has thoughtfully set out brightly coloured wellington boots of all sizes in its lobby for you to borrow.

Tewkesbury Park is an excellent location for a weekend away, with so much to do at the hotel itself as well as in the local vicinity. You won't even need to pack your wellies - but do take some binoculars.

  • Tewkesbury Park Hotel, Lincoln Green Lane, Tewkesbury, GL20 7DN. Tel. 01684 272300

Two nights' bed and breakfast for people in a double/twin room starts at around £134. If you want to push the boat out, that prices rises to £362 for a historic suite. Check the website for information and special offers.

And for our best friends...

OK, we've established that guests are well pampered at Tewkesbury Park - and dogs don't do so badly either.

Indeed, dogs are actively encouraged to join their owners at the hotel, and we certainly saw a few well-behaved canines sprawling around the legs or chair and tables in the bar/lounge.

With this in mind the hotel has created a Canine Retreat Experience. For £199, this gets you:

  • A welcome pack in a dog-friendly room with doggie treats, a luxury Hunt & Wilson dog bed, suggested walks and tailored information

  • Traditional afternoon tea

  • Three-course dinner for two in the Piano Lounge, along with a “Dog’s Dinner” prepared by chef for your dog

  • £25 spa gift voucher (per room)

  • Overnight accommodation with full use of all the leisure facilities

  • Full English breakfast and dogs "will receive a sausage or two"

All dog-friendly rooms have patio doors, opening directly onto the hotel’s grounds, with dog bins placed directly outside the room.

Letting off steam

And then there is the Full Steam Ahead Experience. In April Broadway Station in the Cotswolds welcomed the return of steam, with trains running to Cheltenham Racecourse. And Tewkesbury Park was quick to jump on board to offer a special package.

For £380 you get:

  • Two nights’ accommodation in a Touch of Class room

  • Daily Cotswolds breakfast

  • A three-course dinner

  • Afternoon tea

  • Rover tickets (return from Cheltenham Race Course to Broadway Station)

The price is per room for the two nights, based on double occupancy.