Review: Stratford upon Avon
Stratford upon Avon, United Kingdom
Superb Stratford, and the Alveston Manor Hotel
170 people found this review helpful
Pam said to me ‘What about a short break to Stratford?’ ‘Which one? They’re still constructing the Olympic park at one, and the other’s full of people who love Shakespeare.’ ‘It’s not important to appreciate The Bard,’ came the riposte, ‘because the scenery is fantastic, we don’t have to drive far, and we’ve never been there before. We’re going.’ Alveston Manor Hotel was booked for our two night stay, and also tickets for The Swan Theatre’s production of Cardenio. Yes, I know, I’ve never heard of it either, but it’s Shakespeare’s ‘lost’ play. More of that later. We looked at the hotel’s web site for directions, which to us were perfectly clear, from the M40 take the road to Stratford, go across Clopton Bridge, and there it is on the left, but Andy the head concierge told us that he sometimes has to walk to the guest’s car and bring them in. Such devotion. For some strange reason we had been upgraded, don’t ask how, we never complain, and enjoyed a huge room with a bed that could have accommodated all the Cardenio cast. Nothing was too much trouble, and we went for an afternoon walkies.
Stratford on Avon is one of those towns that has the important places within an easy travelling distance, so we walked across the River Avon pedestrian bridge (look out for the cyclists) and saw the barges in the basin. Some of these are almost static, selling baguettes and rolls, a floating art gallery, and even one selling just ice cream. The theatre complex is also on the river, so we collected our tickets and then took the lift to the top floor of the square observation tower. The lady attendant provided us with a map so we could identify the buildings we were searching for, and when I became confused she kindly took pity and showed me where I was missing. Okay, it stopped her from becoming too bored. We listened to a saxophonist in the park, and wondered that he had managed to get to book two without hitting too many wrong notes. Ice cream in one hand, sitting on a bench with Pam close to me, listening to Gershwin, sun shining, start of a great mini-break, perfection. There was a boat trip available that seemed very reasonably priced, but the skipper was such a miserable man that we preferred to stay on land. Don’t let our experience put you off, as I am sure that all the others have different personalities to Stratford on Avon’s own Captain Hook. We were down early for the hotel’s pre-theatre dinner, good choices from the menu, and Cardenio was so interesting that we both stayed awake, despite it lasting more than three hours, including interval.
The Swan Theatre is a reproduction of the original, with an open stage and seats that all could see perfectly clearly from. The fight scenes were particularly impressive, with one of the actors attempting to land in the lap of a man in the front row. The patron cowered with suitable fear, and so would I have. Nice touch at the end where some of the cast stayed back for half an hour for a question and answer session. Very comfy night’s stay, with superb breakfast. Good to experience it being served to order, instead of the almost obligatory buffet in other allegedly better quality hotels. We took the open top sight-seeing bus, lasting over an hour, taking in all the relevant buildings, and then into the country to Ann Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s House. Good value at less than £10 each, hop-on hop-off with a ticket lasting 24 hours. Lots of different Stratford shops, with the inevitable multiples, but it seemed to us that there was a real preponderance of food outlets and jewellers. We had previously downloaded a Café Rouge voucher, but there was so much choice that you could have a great selection. So, to summarise, we were very impressed with the area, the attractions were attractive, you could go any time of year still finding something to do, and you don’t have to want to see Shakespeare to appreciate what is on offer. We would certainly recommend the 114-bedroom Alveston Manor Hotel, lovely well-maintained grounds, and good customer relations. We enjoyed the butterfly farm, open top bus, cream tea overlooking the river by the Swans Nest, and were pleasantly surprised with Cardenio. What didn’t we like? Not much, really, except for the boat skipper.
170 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.