The charming medieval town of Stratford-upon-Avon famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare is located in rural Warwickshire. The town is approximately 100 miles north west of London with rail services from Marylebone Station. If arriving by car, Stratford lies close to the motorway network being five miles from Junction 5 of the M40. For air travellers, Birmingham International Airport is the nearest at just 28 miles away.
Arrival and check-in:
Hotel Indigo is located in a historic half timbered building on Chapel Street in the heart of the town and benefits from its own car park which is a huge bonus as parking is difficult to find in the town centre. The hotel blends old and new beautifully with its contemporary reception area positioned to one end of a bright and airy atrium with attractive seating overlooking the courtyard garden.
We were greeted by a smartly dressed member of the front desk team sporting a tweed waistcoat who was able to check us into our room speedily even though we’d arrived 90 minutes ahead of the specified check-in time. Before taking the lift up to our room he enquired if it was our first visit to Stratford and as it was, produced a map on which he noted the town’s main attractions which was very helpful.
The hotel has a total of 93 rooms some of which are in the original part of the building retaining their Tudor period features whilst others are located in the newer wing and are contemporary styled. I’m certain that whichever part of the hotel your room is in, it will be lovely as we were allocated one of the tastefully furnished modern rooms which was beautiful.
Our stylish room overlooking the garden, had pale grey walls with a grey, blue and yellow checked headboard and matching cushions. The king sized bed was dressed with luxurious high thread Egyptian cotton linen and had the most comfortable goose down pillows to rest our heads on. Hanging on the walls were pictures of Shakespeare, giving a nod to the famous bard.
At the foot of the bed, the large wardrobe opened to reveal a hospitality tray stocked with tea, coffee, chocolate, shortbread and even popcorn whilst the fridge contained fresh milk, complimentary soft drinks and water.
The bathroom featured statement blue and white patterned tiling which worked well, a powerful monsoon shower head, thick towels and bathrobes together with complimentary fragrant Bramley toiletries to pamper ourselves with.
Dinner is served in the award winning Woodsman restaurant which specialises in locally sourced British beef, deer, wild boar and Hebridean lamb. We’d read that the restaurant was awarded Best New U.K. restaurant in the Good Food Guide 2020 so thought we’d be in for a treat.
The restaurant is divided into intimate areas and has a relaxed vibe with the waiting staff wearing tailored herringbone waistcoats teamed with jeans and brogues. From our table we were able to watch executive chef Mike Robinson and his team prepare dishes both on the sizzling charcoal grill and in the wood fired oven.
As it was a Sunday, mouth-watering roasts were on the menu and we can never pass up on a roast and what a feast it was. After our delicious starters, our mains arrived on a sharing platter with succulent beef, pork and huge Yorkshire puddings accompanied by a selection of fresh vegetables and a bowl of delicious gravy.
Breakfast is served in the Feasting Room with a vast selection of cold meats, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, in-house baked bread and pastries on offer. Hot dishes are served to the table and from the menu we selected full English and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs which were cooked to perfection. Large cups of cappuccino set us up for the day and we leisurely sipped these whilst catching up on the morning news.
The hotel has several lounge areas ranging from a cosy snug in the older part of the hotel to the stylish atrium overlooking the courtyard garden. The wood panelled Falcon tearoom is just the place for afternoon tea whilst the cocktail bar adjacent to the restaurant is perfectly placed for pre-dinner cocktails. On warm days lunch and drinks can be enjoyed out in the garden which was a lovely sun trap during our visit.
As can be expected, the hotel offers high speed Wi-Fi throughout the building. There’s a small car park to the rear (payable daily). Places cannot be reserved in advance but we didn’t have any problem parking when we arrived. A small well equipped gym is located near the reception area for the sole use of hotel guests.
Out and About:
Shakespeare’s New Place: No visit to Stratford-upon-Avon can be complete without exploring its Shakespeare heritage and there is no better place to start than at Shakespeare’s New Place as it is located opposite the hotel. This was the site of Shakespeare’s family home for 19 years. The house was demolished in 1759 and a garden has since been designed on the exact location where ‘New Place’ once stood to commemorate the importance of the site. When Shakespeare lived there, the house was one of the largest in the town and an indoor exhibition creates an impression of the scale of the original building. Shakespeare’s New Place
Shakespeare’s Birthplace: From there, it’s just a short walk along to Shakespeare’s Birthplace located in the Shakespeare Centre on Henley Street. This was where William Shakespeare was born and raised and where he spent the first five years of his marriage living with Anne Hathaway. The fascinating exhibition features a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio and a timeline of his life. This helps to set the scene, documenting his life and legacy before entering the house itself.
Inside the house, view a replica of his father’s glove making workshop where he made gloves for all occasions from everyday working gloves to elaborate pairs worn on special occasions. A further exhibition details that in 1568 his father became mayor of Stratford and because of his status William was then privileged to attend the local grammar school. The house remained in the family until the late 18th century and was purchased by the Trust in 1847. It has been well preserved and provides an insight into the Bard’s early life and is surrounded by a large landscaped garden. Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage: It is either a short drive or a pleasant 1.3 mile walk to the village of Shottery, home to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Dating back more than 500 years this was the former home of William Shakespeare’s bride to be. The cottage was extended over the years but much of the original structure survives to this day. The property was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892 and contains some of its original furnishings.
The quaint cottage is surrounded by a beautiful garden extending to nine acres with paths leading to a sculpture trail inspired by Shakespeare’s plays. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
As all three of these venues are part of the Shakespeare Birthplace trust a combined ticket is available offering substantial savings. Details can be found here: Shakespeare’s Story.
Shakespeare’s School Room and Guildhall lies close to the hotel on Church Street. Discover where Shakespeare was educated and sit at a desk in the very classroom where he was a pupil in the 1570’s. Visitors can participate in a Tudor schoolroom lesson led by a stern schoolmaster dressed in period robes and complete some written exercises using a quill pen. Shakespeare’s School Room and Guildhall
Riverside walks: Take a stroll by the riverside through the scenic Bancroft Gardens. Here you will find Bancroft canal basin which is where the Stratford-upon-Avon canal joins the River Avon. Wander over the bridge watching both canal and pleasure boats pass by and then take a boat trip yourselves.
River boat trips: Enjoy a 30 minute pleasure boat cruise along the River Avon admiring the views as you sail downstream passing the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre and the church where Shakespeare is buried before turning around and continuing upstream passing under the 15th century arched Clopton Bridge. Avon Boating.
Stratford Butterfly Farm: Just across the bridge lies Stratford Butterfly Farm which is a lovely place to visit feeling like a tropical paradise with its lush vegetation, waterfalls and koi carp filled pools. Hundreds of exotic butterflies flutter by in colours ranging from vivid blue to yellow and crimson. As well as butterflies there are mini-beasts, reptiles, snakes and amphibians to be seen. In the discovery zone visitors are able to observe the life cycle of a butterfly and to occasionally see a butterfly hatch from its pupa. The Butterfly Farm is an enchanting experience for both young and old. Stratford Butterfly Farm.
Shakespeare Distillery: Two miles outside of Stratford lies Shakespeare Distillery an artisan spirit producer of a range of premium gins and rums. Join one of their informative distillery tours which explain the distilling process beginning in the still room and continuing through to bottling and labelling. The tour ends with sampling a selection of gins and rums and then enjoying a full-size one of your choice. Drivers don’t miss out as they can take home a miniature bottle. The distillery also offers gin school and cocktail making classes.
British Motor Museum: Slightly further afield visit the British Motor Museum located just 20 minutes away in Gaydon. This vast museum is home to the world’s largest collection of historic British cars displaying more than 400 British classic cars celebrating the past, present and future of British motoring.
The collection tells the story of the motor car and over a hundred years of its industry in the West Midlands. Free guided tours are available at certain times of day and either joining one of these or wandering around on your own it’s a fascinating museum. British Motor Museum.
Hotel Indigo is a delightful place to stay in Stratford and although it’s right in the town centre it’s actually tucked away in a quiet backwater and is lovely and quiet. Having undergone recent major renovations the hotel has managed to combine its 16th century heritage with the needs of today’s traveller. The original part of the hotel and newer wing connect together by means of a stylish atrium corridor that harmonises the two together beautifully.
All members of the Indigo team that we came into contact with were impeccably well trained and helpful, always putting the needs of guests first to ensure a memorable stay. Dining in the Woodsman restaurant was also a highlight and although its main focus is on meat eaters, other diets are well catered for and everyone can be assured an exceptional dining experience.
Details: Hotel Indigo, Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HA.
During our stay we were guests of Hotel Indigo and as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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