It’s that time of the year again when we welcome back one of the most anticipated events in the sporting calendar – The Cheltenham Festival. As far as racing goes, it’s a goodie which sees thousands of punters block out their diaries from Tuesday 14th – Friday 17th March and flock to the home of national jump racing here in Cheltenham for some turf pounding action. Dressed in the finest of tweeds, armed with hip flasks encompassing our favourite tipples and safeguarded tips from those ‘in the know’ tightly in hand, all eyes are on the finish line in hope of winning some cash that will leave the white faced bookies the only ones beaten.
Even though the racing itself is a matter of course for entertainment, let’s not kid ourselves that there’s just as much action in the run up to the first race, which also continues long after the last, and in racing terms, ‘when the going’s good’, the good get going! As the white tents go up in their masses and the kegs of Guinness are delivered in the truckloads to ensure the Irish are kept ‘watered’, we’ve gone behind-the-scenes to draw all the best action off the gallops. Cheltenham town itself, may seem like the easy option just a few furlongs away from the racecourse, but if you’re looking for a safe bet, we recommend placing it and yourself at The Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power.
Like Cheltenham, it’s the home of national jump racing and you only have to look at the legends and winners that take pride of place along the walls to know who’s local this is. Located in the heart of the community, it boasts everything you desire from a humble country pub. Open fires, cosy wooden dining tables and a good sized bar handicapped with a decent leverage of tipples, there’s also two television screens positioned either end showing all the daily action live from the track.
With the odds so far looking favourable, when it comes to race week it’s the spirited atmosphere that keeps us firmly on the bit. As far as the much sought after party goes, it’s safe to say Hugh Kelly and his team have it covered with plenty of good liquor and lively entertainment to see you merry through the celebrations. The marquee out back seats up to a hundred people for dinner as the restaurant takes centre stage for the live bands handpicked from the local talent to keep our winning spirits lifted throughout the week.
Nevertheless, as much as we all love the raucousness of race week the one thing we know is to never go fourth on an empty stomach. Fortunately, the menu at The Hollow Bottom covers everything you would expect from a cosy country pub with a few of ‘chef’s creations’ added in for good measure. You have staple classics like ham, egg and chips – an instant winner, homemade burger – which will always keep the handicap even after a day’s racing and famously their steak – sourced from the butcher down the road in Mickleton.
Each dish is immensely satisfying in it’s own right, from goujons to roasts, handmade Mickleton sausages with creamy mash to a good wholesome pie. even the chips come as a cheesey option if you’re looking for the ultimate guilty pleasure. Don’t forget to finish off with blackberry and apple crumble, a dessert so delicious and perfectly proportioned, even the bookies will be in favour.
Some would call The Hollow Bottom a hidden treasure nestled in the heart of the picture postcard landscape The Cotswolds. However, once discovered , it will soon become home for those fours days in March that see hundreds flock from far and wide. With only a handful of cosy rooms available, they are booked out way in advance, but here, everyone’s welcome to dine and giddy up in the celebrations. So if you need a ‘plan b’, Hugh and his attentive team of staff run The Hollowbottom’s very own mini bus that will drop you home when you reluctantly have to leave at the end of the night. So, with less than a week ago, let’s put the odds in our favour and say bottom’s up to The Hollowbottom, it’s going to be a definite ‘jolly’.
The Hollow Bottom