Discovering a Bard-worthy gem in Stratford-upon-Avon.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Stratford, you’ll know that its vast beauty and history attract bountiful numbers of visitors. Now we’ve found a serene bolthole from which to enjoy all the town has to offer.
Shakespeare country has more than Stratford itself to offer. If you’re heading here from the north and west, you have the quaint main street of Henley-in-Arden to explore, and the opportunity of a treat from the legendary Henley Ice Cream. Next up is pretty Wootten Wawen, with the shopping and dining of the Yew Tree Craft Centre. There are some beautiful walks here too: amongst the bluebells in the right season, and year round to the interesting aqueduct where the canal crosses the road. Don’t forget your blackberrying bag for the autumn canal walk.
As you get nearer to Stratford, you start to see the brown road signs for the Shakespeare attractions: the Armoury, Mary Arden’s Farm and Anne Hathaway’s cottage all await your attention. In the town itself, you have all kinds of options from ghost walks to theatre trips, visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace and some interesting museums.
We were booked in for a night at the Townhouse, one of a small group of selected hotels owned by Brakspear Inns. With twelve rooms, the Townhouse has lots of history in its own right: four hundred years in fact, a Grade II listing, and a location right at the heart of the town. Five minutes will see you at Shakespeare’s birthplace, and a couple in the other direction could have you at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, or simply enjoying walking alongside the river.
Our room was on the top floor of the building, with views across to some beautiful black and white quintessentially English architecture. It had all the things you would expect to find in a boutique hotel stay: a bed so comfortable that you will want to take it home with you, a roll-top clawfoot bath and a drench shower, Temple Spa toiletries and a Nespresso machine, home made shortbread and a decanter of port to enjoy. Fast wifi too, so you can share your Shakespearean adventures.
With calm relaxing décor throughout, the Townhouse is a place to recharge, before heading back out to enjoy all Stratford has to offer. Don’t think that’s all about Shakespeare, by the way. The town has plenty beyond the Bard, whether you seek unusual shops, one-off museums or simply beautiful architecture on which to feast your eyes. It’s a most walkable town too, full of interesting things to see, so go and work up an appetite before dinner.
Should you have a theatre date booked in Stratford, you’ll be pleased to note that the Townhouse has pre-theatre selections available for both lunch and dinner. And with such a short walk to the theatre from its comfortable restaurant, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the experience to its fullest.
From a well-balanced dinner menu that evening, we were spoilt for choice. With one of our party having some food allergies, we were delighted to see that choice being equally well represented on an allergen-friendly menu. Hat tip to Brakspear for addressing the needs of all their guests with such care and attention. From our table next to the kitchen, we could just overhear our order being clarified, a great reassurance of attention to detail and safe dining.
For starters we both enjoyed scallops. The gluten and dairy free version came with bacon jam and pea puree, while the main menu version had chorizo and a sweetcorn puree.
For mains, one of us had a steak with peppercorn sauce and possibly the finest chips ever experienced: thrice cooked, golden and being met with a stern “no” when the other diner tried to steal one. The allergen-friendly main of Gressingham duck, olive oil mash, roasted peach and asparagus had a most delicious sauce. We enjoyed sides of salad and an exquisitely beautiful caponata. We couldn’t both manage dessert, but a crème brulee with more of the house shortbread was suitably unctuous.
After a sleep in a bed that felt made of clouds, we bounded downstairs, eager and greedy for breakfast. The buffet table included the expected cereals, fruits and juices, but attention to detail was evidenced in things such as the most beautiful breads provided for toast. From a menu of interesting options, such as a waffle with maple syrup and bacon, eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine, the Full English was so satisfying that hunger was offset for hours.
Perfect scrambled eggs, Cumberland sausage, smoked bacon and plenty more, including some guilty-pleasure fried bread were delicious. Again, allergen friendly options were carefully noted on the menu; the restaurant is accredited by Coeliac UK, so you can be assured a good understanding in the kitchen. The staff kindly enabled an off-piste selection from that menu, providing avocado on toast with a side of flavourful bacon.
It’s a perfect stay, great for recharging your batteries, and enjoying all Stratford has to offer. You can find the Townhouse here. We stayed as the guests of Brakspear Inns And you can find out more about things to do in Shakespeare country here:here