My Holiday in Stratford Upon Avon
Normally, I am one for jetting out of the country for a break and the thought of a UK based holiday used to make me wrinkle my nose and say, “Really?” I am also not normally one to admit when I have been proven wrong so it almost pains me to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed my first UK break in the Charlecote Pheasant Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon.
When we arrived at the hotel after a painfully long three hour drive through some of the heaviest rain we’ve had for years. Admittedly I did none of the driving, but still, when we finally reached the hotel, I was aching for a decent room, a hot cup of tea and a sit down. I was not disappointed. We were welcomed in reception by a smiling member of staff, the first one of many we were to meet.
Admittedly, our room was a Premier Room, so I had expected a certain amount of luxury, but when we got in I was pleasantly surprised by the size and quality. The room had a large four poster bed, a beautiful en-suite bathroom, comfortable seating opposite a lovely fireplace and, according to the other half, a very nice wide screen television. Personally, I was more impressed with the view from the room than the TV, as we looked out onto some beautiful grounds (we spotted deer on one occasion) but apparently the TV was very good too. Men.
After unpacking and our cup of tea, we went to dinner at six o’clock, the first of three dinner sittings available, and enjoyed a lovely three course meal. There were two menus available, one standard menu and the “a la carte” menu, both of which changed daily for more options should you need them. There was a small surcharge for the dishes on this menu, but with the £25 in house spend we received, this was not a problem. The restaurant staff were brilliant, very friendly and welcoming, in particular the restaurant manager, and their service was quick and efficient. This service continued through to the breakfast the next morning, where we were seated and served with tea and toast very quickly before they took our breakfast order. After one full English and one salmon and scrambled eggs, we were both ready for our first day in Stratford-upon-Avon, and we were not disappointed.
Stratford-upon-Avon is known for Shakespeare and obviously we wanted to visit the local attraction associated with the bard, but our first stop was to the Mad Museum, which advertised itself as a “wonderful and exciting collection of machines incorporating gears, chains, pulleys and whirligig paraphernalia.” Initially this meant very little to me, but the price was reasonable and we decided to go in and have a look. It was fascinating – the other half wandered around staring at machines and pressing buttons making tiny marbles whizz around metal tracks, while I accidently set off a motion activated accordion. The place was thoroughly entertaining and we wandered around for a good few hours until the accordion really started to wind me up and we decided to take to the streets and do some shopping.
The shopping in Stratford-upon-Avon is very good; you have the basics like Marks and Spencer and Debenhams, but you also have the independent stores and boutiques that in themselves are interesting to wander around and perfect for picking up one off Christmas presents and stocking fillers. All the shopping will generate an appetite of course, and fortunately there were plenty of cafes offering coffees, cakes and cream teas. Ignore the standard coffee shops, visit the Patisserie Valerie or the like; the staff were friendly, the food was lovely and the atmosphere much more welcoming.
And what are you in Stratford for if not to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace – a fascinating wander around and a must see for die-hard Shakespeare fans. The gift shop wasn’t hideously overpriced like so many are either, and I picked up a few keepsakes and presents (who doesn’t need a biro quill?).
If that much history isn’t enough for you, on day two of our stay we ventured to Warwick Castle, a must if you’re able. The drive wasn’t too long, only about twenty minutes or so from where we were staying (if you direct your partner correctly!) and it is easy to find. We were somewhat surprised to find out how expensive both the parking and the tickets were, but it had to be done, though one might recommend checking online to see if there are any discounted tickets to be found!
Warwick Castle is a beautiful place to visit nonetheless, though not for the faint hearted – the towers are very tall and the stairs are quite steep. Once you reach the top you can see around Warwick for miles – utterly stunning and well worth the climb. As you go back down into the castle you are treated to some history and you are even able to try some of the history on – the helmets, incidentally, were not designed for those wearing glasses.
Once historied out, we ventured into the town itself, which on reflection was not on a par with the shopping available in Stratford-upon-Avon, but it was still interesting to wander the shops and see what was on offer. I would suggest visiting in peak season as the town is more likely to be busy; when we visited it was the middle of November and nothing really seemed to be open.
Our third day took us to Evesham, about a forty minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon. Unfortunately for us, we visited right after the heavy rains had flooded the river’s banks, but we still enjoyed a long walk along the riverside, trudging through a bit of mud here and there as necessary. Again it didn’t quite match Stratford-upon-Avon for the shopping, but it was a lovely day out besides.
Once again we retired to the hotel, and enjoyed our final dinner – during which I was trying to bully my partner into a few more days’ stay, but to no avail. Our last night was lovely, even if it did involve packing the suitcase (all by myself I might add) as we had to vacate the room by ten o’clock the following morning.
If you want to visit Stratford-upon-Avon, The Charlecote Pheasant Hotel is the place to stay while you do so – and even if you don’t want to visit Stratford-upon-Avon, go to the hotel anyway; fantastic staff, food and atmosphere. Ten out of ten!
We would like to thank Miss Medhurst for taking the time to write this blog post.
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