For a author, Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa, discovered simply exterior Stratford-upon-Avon, is the proper place to search out your muse. First, there’s the evocative 125-year-old topiary backyard, the place you may waft round and be impressed by the enormous yew timber clipped into chess items, (they had been usual after Lewis Carroll’s chess set in Alice in Wonderland).
Then there’s the creaking floorboards and oak panelling present in most of the rooms –restored architectural particulars from what was initially a former 16th-century Elizabethan house. What’s extra, William Shakespeare, certainly one of our biggest writers, allegedly penned a few of As You Like It within the lodge’s library. Inspiration certainly.
Whereas the lodge properly captures the spirit of its 125-year historical past, it has additionally mixed it with loads of important, modern touches to maintain any modern-day scribe completely satisfied. Final 12 months, it accomplished a £5.6million refurbishment venture, overseen by inside designers DesignLSM.
Whereas there are a number of suites within the unique 16th century a part of the home, which boast four-poster beds, grand fireplaces and mullion home windows – ask for certainly one of these if you need extra of a standard really feel – a lot of the bedrooms are vivid, cheery and really feel ‘of the second’. Crisp linens, outsized felt-covered headboards and velvet chairs add parts of cosy-luxe. References to Billesley’s Shakespearean roots are dotted all through however are delicate and trendy – reminiscent of framed feather quills and line sketches referencing Tudor timbers on the partitions.
Within the Stuart Restaurant, in the meantime, playful art work, by Pratiksha Tayal, has giant splashes of vibrant color purposefully ‘defacing’ conventional portraits. These add a unusual, irreverent contact and are a becoming enhancement to the British menu of recent classics. Highlights embody whipped goats cheese or smoked mackerel to begin; mains of stone bass with ‘textures’ of cauliflower or Gloucester pork stomach. For one thing extra relaxed, the bar menu is bursting with crowd-pleasers, reminiscent of burgers, sharing boards and a imply chilli tagliatelle.
Begin your night off with drinks within the Grand Corridor, with its distinctive minstrel’s gallery (later added within the Victorian occasions) and imposing hearth. It has additionally been given a make-over, with cosy teal and rose-pink velvet chairs and marble tables, to remodel it right into a glamorous bar space.
DesignLSM’s signature elegant type can also be felt within the spa. The brand new spa lounge, as an example, has a cool Mediterranean really feel with wicker lampshades, a wall of fairly chook prints and accents of dove gray and burnt orange.
To completely change off, the Decleor Aromatherapy Facial is simply the ticket – providing you with an hour of blissful headspace and revived pores and skin, in addition. Company may also use the indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and yoga studio turning their keep right into a mini spa retreat.
For the final word solution to rejoice the lodge’s historical past, Billesley Manor is about to introduc a brand new Tudor Afternoon Tea (launched to mark Shakespeare’s birthday on 23 April). Taken within the oak panelled bar space or within the library – with its ceiling of floating books – it is going to be accompanied by a troupe of Shakespearean performers and lute gamers.
To additional take you again in time, e book an evening’s keep within the Shakespeare Suite (Room 4), which has wealthy carved wall panelling and an elaborate four-poster mattress. It additionally has an unique hidden ‘crawl area’ above the oak-panelled hearth. This small central slit, via which anybody hiding might observe what’s going on within the bed room, was historically described as a ‘priest gap’, though it was extra prone to have been used to retailer valuables.
Discovered near Stratford-upon-Avon, Billesley Manor Resort & Spa is good for exploring the historic city or to observe the RSC convey Shakespeare’s works to life. Nearer to house, and set within the 11 acres of grounds, is a tiny, 11th-century All Saints church. That is the place Shakespeare allegedly married Anne Hathaway, and the place his granddaughter additionally later wed. Ask for the important thing at reception to have a peek inside. It’s a glimpse into the previous.