Whether you’re an avid fan of the Bard or looking for a dreamy escape in the rolling Cotswold hills, Shakespeare‘s England has it all. From the playwright’s birthplace to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, there’s a wealth of history to discover, plus galleries, museums and theatres. After all that excitement, you’ll need somewhere to rest your sleepy head, so here are the top places to stay for a boutique weekend getaway.
In Shakespeare’s home town, Stratford-upon-Avon, is an unassuming yet charming all-brick façade, hiding this delightfully stylish hotel. The building, founded in 1798, has been through a dizzying array of costume changes, appearing as a doctor’s surgery, a gent’s club and a registry office. It now houses 46 hotel rooms and suites dressed in dark greys, navies and greens. Each is individually styled, but all come with signature roll-top tubs, fine Egyptian linens and drench showers.
The social life at the hotel is centred around the bistro, which serves traditional French or contemporary British dishes in a modern, casual setting. Come at the end of the week for a traditional Sunday lunch. There’s also a comfortable bar-lounge, where you’ll find mixologist-fashioned cocktails and an impressive selection of wines (ask the sommelier for tips if you don’t know your nose from your legs).
Finally, if you’ve got a bug for the Bard, you’ll love the location, which is a seven-minute stroll from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre or around minutes to his grave at Holy Trinity Church.
Scattered throughout Hotel Indigo is a delightful selection of Shakespeare-related curios. Some are easy to spot – you probably won’t miss the in-room portraits of ol’ Will wearing specs – but others are less conspicuous, such as the boxing fight-night poster in the gym reading Montague vs Capulet.
That fun, funky attitude runs through all 93 rooms at the boutique hotel, which are split between the original 16th-century building (the Georgian townhouse) and the modern wing. Each comes with a playful blend of contemporary fixtures and traditional design, plus Hypnos beds, Nespresso coffee machines and spa-style bathrooms.
You’ll eat food so good it deserves a love sonnet down at The Woodsman, the in-house gastro pub which serves field-to-fork dishes with a nose-to-tail philosophy. That means wild deer caught by a pro hunter, fish from Cornwall and veggies from Evesham – all delivered seasonally and sustainably.
Head to the leafy village of Shottery, just a mile from Stratford-upon-Avon, to stay in the 21-room boutique Burnside Hotel. Built in the 19th century, it was once a striking manor; fully restored, it now offers an intimate, luxurious stay perfect for a romantic getaway or quiet break. Rooms are traditional, interspersed with modern prints, such as floral scatter cushions and a cow-hide bench.
You can find the obligatory Shakespeare portrait in the reception, this time a colourful triptych. Go past that to find the conservatory dining area, which is adjoined to the in-house restaurant. If you fancy an emblematic British treat, come for an afternoon tea filled with sandwiches, savouries, scones and sweets. For something a bit stronger, though, head to Saddles Bar – a mini pub with three riding saddle-style stools.
When you’re itching to explore, a five-minute walk will take you to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, or you could jump in the hotel-provided Mercedes for a short shuttle to Shakespeare’s hometown.
While this old coaching inn has bags of history and charm, it also features good ol’-fashioned British wit and eccentricity thanks to Emma Holman-West’s inspired interior design – she’s also the owner of the grand Alscot Estate, where the hotel is situated, which has almost 1,619ha (4,000 acres) of spectacular Warwickshire countryside.
From the gentlemen’s club-style bar, complete with brown leather armchairs and roaring fires, to the eight stunning bedrooms, each element of The Bell is carefully considered, with charming details, bold colour palettes and statement finishes.
In summer, the terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy a local ale from the estate itself and soak up the views of the sprawling riverside meadow and Stour Valley beyond. The dining experience won’t disappoint either, with the pub winning an AA Rosette Award for Culinary Excellence – expect everything from classics such as steak burger with grilled bacon and cheddar to the more exotic, such as beetroot and mint falafel.
For something really special, try one of Dormy House’s Top Notch rooms that exude character, with dreamy features including exposed beams and four-poster beds; or for a real blow-out treat, opt for one of the two Hot Tub Suites, one of which is in a pretty cottage with its own courtyard.
Even if you book one of the more modest rooms, you can still treat yourself in the quite frankly spectacular spa created by award-winning London Spa designers Sparcstudio and Howard Spa Consulting. Spend an entire day indulging yourself with the top-to-toe treatments; then after a day of total relaxation, prepare to enjoy a gastronomic experience in either the Garden Room restaurant – a great spot for summer dining with its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out towards the garden – or the more casual Potting Shed, both offering locally farmed and foraged fare to tempt the taste buds.
The Townhouse is run by the same group that runs the George Townhouse in Shipston-on-Stour, and you can expect similar attention to detail when it comes to design. Each of the 11 rooms have a fresh, contemporary feel, yet a heightened sense of theatricality, with bold feature wallpapers from the likes of Cole & Son in on-trend patterns – you’ll also notice framed Shakespeare quotes dotted about the place. If you’re staying over the weekend, you can indulge in the Lobster & Fizz Friday and Sunday Roast dining options.
For ideas on places to visit during your stay, visit Shakespeare’s England.
Sam Murray contributed additional reporting to this article.
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