The five best pubs in Cheltenham – The Festival-town’s finest free houses

You can’t go to the races without visiting Cheltenham’s huge selection of pubs and we’ve picked out five of our favorites for you to visit during your time in Cheltenham.

A day at the races and a trip to the pub go hand in hand – it’s just the done thing – though finding a proper pub in a town center can sometimes be harder than you think. When you’ve spent the afternoon drinking out of flimsy plastic cups at the racecourse, all you require is a decent pint, a sit-down, and maybe a bag of pork scratchings. We may be better known for providing Cheltenham betting tips, but here are some of Cheltenham’s finest pubs for you to take in when you come down for the Festival…

Sandford Park Ale House

At the very top of the High Street, you’ll come across Sandford Park Ale House; it has two floors, plenty of seating and a large garden, but the star attraction is the beer! It’s a pub owned by beer drinkers, for beer drinkers, and Cheltenham CAMRA members consider it their haven. They do serve other drinks, but with pumps lining the bar and the back wall, and bottled beer crammed into every fridge, the focus is made pretty clear. Get yourself an Orval, served in a chalice, and feel like a king as the racing action unfolds with the Supreme Novices Hurdle.

An image from the front of Sandford Park Ale House

The Jolly Brewmaster

You’ll be doubting the directions on your walk to The Jolly on Painswick Road; it’s in the middle of a residential area, and from the end of the street, you’d be forgiven for not thinking it was there. Trust us though; it’s worth the additional walking effort. A great lesser-known pub for ale and cider fans of all ages and the curved bar decorated with hops is a wonderful feature. Be warned, once you get there, you won’t want to leave – you’ll be fixated on the flowing drinks and the thrilling Day 1 racing action!

The Jolly Brewmaster on Painswick Road

The Beehive

The Beehive is a proper neighborhood pub in the Montpellier/Suffolks area, and it’s a definite favorite for locals. Serving real ales, wines and some interesting spirits – including a couple of Cheltenham gins – it also boasts a few draught ciders; a pint of Cornish Rattler anyone? If you’re hungry, get yourself a tasty Lovett Pie, which is handmade in Bath; the pulled pork, pickled onion and cheddar ‘Picnic Pie’ is genius! You can prop yourself at the bar until midnight, though on Fridays and Saturdays it’s open until 1am, then it really is time to stumble home.

The Beehive lit up at night

The Bath Tavern

At the town-end of Bath Road, you will find one of the smallest pubs in Cheltenham. The Bath Tavern is confidently comfy, and despite its size, it is always ready for a good old knees-up. It’s usually full of ‘the regulars’, but they love to welcome new faces in, especially if you want to chat horse racing over a few beverages! When it’s cold, log fires are lit, there’s often sport on the TV, and every now and then they offer free cheese tastings… Clearly a sign that this is a good watering hole to visit before you make your way to Cheltenham racecourse.

The Bath Tavern is one of the smallest pubs in Cheltenham

The Railway

Sneak off down a side road off of the Lower High Street, and you will get to The Railway. It’s hidden away from the bustle of the town center, so if you fancy going somewhere less busy after the intensity of the racecourse, then this is a good shout. The pub is also famed for its sausage and mash kitchen, which could be a savior at the end of a boozy day. Choose your sausages (there are over ten, including ones such as duck & cognac, pork, pear & stilton, and lamb, honey & mustard), then debate over the different mash options (roasted garlic? chilli & cheese?), and finally, pick a gravy… Then down your drink because those were some difficult decisions.

A picture of The Railway pub from the side

Did you read our Cheltenham Festival Survival Guide yet? Where we talk about the do’s and don’t and how to get the most out of the Cheltenham Festival