My husband and I rarely travel, but we do have to regularly find our way from Chelmsford, Essex, to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in order to visit my family.
Since I am a not-particularly-mobile Epileptic individual who often needs the aid of a stick, we struggled to find a suitable place to stay that allows for my restrictions and meets both our needs. Either there was no decent parking, or we were given an upstairs room, or we were given a ground floor room but had to walk down steep, narrow stairs to reach the breakfast room in the basement, or – even worse – all of the above.
This is how HOPE ORCHARD came to our attention. We have been staying there exclusively for five years now, and the owners have given me kind permission to write a blog review for them.
Meet Liz and Graham Packer; a delightful couple who put the customer above all else and who love to converse with and get to know their guests. They are personable, friendly people and nothing is too much if it meets the needs of their guests. I once travelled to Hope Orchard alone by coach, and Graham was kind enough to drive me to the central bus station rather than let me struggle with my stick and my luggage to wait in the freezing cold for a bus into Cheltenham on the day I checked out.
As you can see, the reception area is easily accessible. There are a couple of steps down to the front door, but these can be circumvented by going across the gravel in order to avoid them. This is the first place you stop, to announce your arrival and receive your room key. This is also the breakfast room, which is nicely laid out, welcoming in appearance and atmosphere – and always smells divine. Liz is a wonderful cook.
Very importantly, special food needs are catered for – you simply let them know ahead of time when you book. Dairy free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian – all needs are catered to at no extra cost. You can even have a second helping of traditional English if you want to (although they also serve the gut-busting “full monty” along with a selection of specials and cereals). Various different juices, tea and coffee are also freely available.
There are five double rooms and three twins. Each room contains a digital television, a mini-fridge, a microwave, tea and coffee making facilities, mugs, glasses, cutlery and crockery. There is also the benefit of free internet – which is often the simplest way of contacting a friend or relative when you have a disability!
There are also bedside lamps, extra pillows in the spacious wardrobes, a radio alarm clock and a telephone with a direct line to the main house should you need anything.
Each room is en-suite, and not so large that anybody with mobility, digestive or bladder issues can’t reach the bathroom easily – it’s just a quick hop out of bed or off the chair at the computer desk. If you require an extra duvet or extra pillows, all you need do is ask.
Hope Orchard is conveniently situated on a bus route that runs between Cheltenham and Gloucester. The bus runs every ten to twenty minutes and you pay for a day ticket that allows you to travel between the town and city as often as you like during the day.
If you’re an aeroplane enthusiast, then Hope Orchard is also an ideal spot for you! Staverton Airport is nearby and you very often see private planes flying over.
I keep wanting to paint this phone box blue! It directs you to a mobile phone if Liz and Graham are out when you arrive, because they hide your room key in a safe in the phone box and they tell you the combination to recieve the key – and if you’re a new guest they come to say hello to you later.
Hope Orchard is completely pet friendly; Liz and Graham are owned by two cats and Toby – pictured here. Toby is a totally not terrifying brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier who adores cuddles – the only dangerous thing about Toby is his tongue! In this photograph he is apparently impersonating the Eleventh Doctor with that bow tie! On the grounds there is a paddock in which you can walk your dog. Oh, the cats are Jasper (red collar) and Louis (blue collar). Both are black beauties who enjoy a fuss.
For a disabled traveller Hope Orchard is accessible, welcoming and friendly; situated on a main bus route in a quiet, pleasant environment with a wonderful, friendly couple (and their pets!) as hosts.
If you are completely reliant on a wheelchair this guest house isn’t for you, but otherwise it’s a wonderful, safe, comforting haven for those who need to think about their mobility issues.
Hope Orchard is a four-star establishment, but if I had my way they would have five stars. It’s a wonderful place to stay.