Believed to be where William Shakespeare wrote ‘As You Like It’, Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa is proud of its rich history, located in 11 acres of rural countryside, just three miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. The 16th century hotel has also recently undergone a £5.6 million refurbishment, injecting new life into its 71 guest rooms, communal areas, bar, restaurant, and newly renovated spa and wedding venue.
Just outside the medieval town of Stratford-upon-Avon, Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa is set right in the heart of Shakespearean England, near Stratford-upon-Avon. As such, there’s plenty of Shakespeare-focussed history to take in. While if you’re less keen on a literary tour centred around the famous bard, the town has a good selection of additional things to do and see. During the warmer months, boat trips on the River Avon are a must (or you can hire your own), while the Stratford Butterfly Farm is particularly impressive.
As for the Shakespeare-related highlights, visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, the Holy Trinity Church to see the writer’s final resting place, his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage (although opening hours are seasonal), The Royal Shakespeare Company when it reopens, and the All Saints church, where Shakespeare allegedly married Anne Hathaway, right next to the Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa.
As for the 71 bedrooms, Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa offers a number of different styles. Our Junior Suite was spacious and well equipped with modern amenities, a huge bed, and decorated with a moody dark blue and modern white colour scheme stylishly contrasting the remaining Tudor accents. A loose Forest of Arden theme also permeates the room, with framed feathers and plenty of floral print accents. A comfortable chez lounge and two velour armchairs adorned with a loud floral print also brought a splash of colour, as an ideal space to sit and admire the garden view from the large traditional windows, overlooking the 125-year-old topiary garden, tennis courts, fountain (which is, thankfully, turned off overnight), and the hotel’s picturesque grounds.
Like the bedroom, the private bathroom was also exceptionally clean with the ice-white scheme complemented by flattering lighting, a white marble vanity unit, and a full sized bath with two powerful showers (one rainfall). Elsewhere, robes were available for use in the spa, while the room was also equipped with relatively decent coffee and teas, a modern television, a well-sized wardrobe, bedside plug sockets with USB ports, and an easy to use safety deposit box. The WIFI is also free and very fast.
The style, staff and stuff
The stylish décor of the renovated rooms also runs throughout the rest of the Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa. In addition to the comfortable reception area with its jewel-tone armchairs and fireplace, the main public areas include the Great Hall Lounge and Bar and The Library. The bar space is comfortable but also feels particularly glamorous with its double-height ceilings open to a galleried balcony, oak panelling, stone fireplace and oil paintings. Elsewhere, The Library – where Shakespeare is said to have written ‘As You Like It’ – is a quiet space with tables perfect for reading, catching up on work, or playing chess, all overlooking the garden. The room also has a striking art installation, featuring books cascading out of the shelves and climbing up and across the ceiling.
Billesley Manor is also home to a small spa complete with a large, heated indoor pool surrounded by lounge chairs, a steam room, and a sauna. A well-equipped fitness centre is also on site, offering yoga and fitness classes, while a range of beauty therapies are also offered.
Staff throughout the hotel are discrete, accessible and friendly.
Food and drink
As for the food and drink offering, Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa is particularly proud of its on-site restaurant. With rich oak panelling contrasted by contemporary art hangings, the room feels like the most traditional in the entire hotel. Here, a seasonal fine dining menu is served, with a decent number of dishes ranging from safe (for less adventurous guests) to the more exciting end of the scale.
Highlights from our stay included a pretty smoked chicken dish with black garlic, radishes and pickled mushrooms to slice through some of the dish’s richness. Well-cooked dominoes of pork belly featured on a standout main, alongside compressed apple dice, wilted spinach, and rich nuggets of black pudding. Elsewhere, lamb cutlets were cooked medium (as insisted upon by the chef), and although a little overcooked to my liking, the accompanying stack of pressed and confit potato slices was the jewel in the dish’s crown, working remarkably well with the lamb. To finish, sticky toffee pudding was a good, refined take on a comforting classic.
Breakfast is also served in the restaurant dining room, with a buffet option offering cooked breakfast and continental options with pastries, fresh fruit, cheese, and charcuterie. Plus cereal, yoghurt, and fruit juice. Hot drinks are also served at the table.
For a pre- or post-dinner drink, the bar offers a good selection of spirits as well as well-made cocktails. A good selection of signature cocktails are championed, while off menu options include well-made classics such as a great perfect Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
When visiting Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa, it’s worth requesting a room in the older part of the hotel, ideally overlooking the garden. Moreover, if planning on visiting Statford-upon-Avon it’s worth noting that, besides the Shakespeare attractions, many of the town’s shops and some attractions are closed during the beginning of the week. If planning to eat out in Stratford-upon-Avon, The Woodsman serves particularly impressive food with a focus on sustainable wild food.
Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa rates start from £160 per night B&B based on two people sharing, subject to availability. For more information about Billesley Manor Hotel and to book a stay, please visit www.bespokehotels.com, www.billesleymanor.com, or call 01789 279955.
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