Just like neighbouring Cheltenham, the Gloucestershire city of Gloucester is a great base from which to explore some of England's best bits, including the delightful Cotswolds, historic Oxford, Shakespeare's Stratford and capital city London - thanks to good transport links.
And just like cosmopolitan Cheltenham, with its cool café culture and Regency handsomeness, Gloucester has a lot to offer visitors who prefer a more sedate stay. It's a charming place to spend a weekend, and Gloucester hotels do a fine line in British hospitality.
Located in the south west of England, the city of Gloucester is compact enough to manage the main attractions on foot. Start at The Cross, where four ancient Roman roads meet (Westgate, Eastgate, Southgate and Northgate), and work your way along each to find something new. You'll find Gloucester Cathedral, the docks, museums, art galleries, a pretty-as-a-picture nature reserve, plus plenty of contrasting ancient and modern facets of this interesting former Roman settlement on the River Severn.
It's worth booking hotels in Gloucester that are as close to the city centre as possible. There are some wonderful manor-house hotels on the outskirts of town, where luxury is on tap, plus a number of good-value chain hotels close to out-of-town business and leisure parks. But, if you plan to see the sights and don't want to trek into the centre, choosing a central hotel will be your best option. Look out for hotels from some of the well-known chains such as Holiday Inn, Ibis, Thistle, Mercure, Holiday Inn Express, Best Western, Premier Inn and Travelodge.
The city centre is roughly mapped out by a ring road, and staying within this loop will enable you to check out Gloucester's attractions without getting in the car or hopping on public transport. The railway station can be found on the ring road, which makes a city break without wheels even more convenient.
The docks are found within this central area too, and water-side hotels are a pleasant alternative to road-side hotels in the city. The number of hotels in Gloucester is far from infinite, but you'll find a charming bunch to choose from, including converted inns, independent boutique hotels, plus the big, reliable city-centre chain hotels, that offer everything you need for a good night's sleep.
Top five attractions
Marvel at the architecture, read about the history, join in the events, or simply watch as young Harry Potter fans clock some of Hogwarts School.
Shop, see the sights or take a leisure cruise along the Sharpness Canal: the docks are a symbol of regeneration in Gloucester and visiting in summer is particularly enjoyable.
Gloucester Waterways Museum
Take a trip back in time at this museum in a converted warehouse, at the heart of the city's docks. Children can dress up and learn about canal locks.
The House of the Tailor of Gloucester
Think of legendary children's author Beatrix Potter and you probably think of the Lake District. But Gloucester is where she stayed with her cousin and penned her “favourite book”, The Tailor of Gloucester. See the shop that inspired the tale.
Alney Island Nature Reserve
Just minutes from the city centre are the pleasing green flood meadows of Alney Island, which is a vital habitat for British wildlife in the area. It's an ideal location to be lost in nature during your city break.
International Rhythm and Blues Festival; July: The city plays host to cool sounds and groovy musicians during this annual event, with performances held at venues around Gloucester.
Gloucester Carnival; July: Family events bring the city alive during summer, with performances and parades to be seen across Gloucester.
Gloucester Quays Victorian Market; November-December: Follow the sounds of the brass band to the historic docks and sniff out Christmas gifts and delicious treats at the stalls. Victorian characters help to recreate an atmosphere of the past.