Friday, 09 October 2015

Stratford

When it comes to a Shakespearean getaway, Stratford is your oyster.

Written by Wendy Gomersall
Did you know that William Shakespeare was a toy boy? He was only 18 years old when he married 26-year-old Anne Hathaway in 1582 and, scandalously at the time, she was pregnant with his child. Arguably the world’s greatest poet and playwright, the Bard wrote nearly one million words and visitors from all over the world travel to his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon, to see the houses of his birthplace, and to visit his grave.

Next year, it will be 400 years since his death in April 1616, so what better time to plan a minibreak in Warwickshire? Stay at the splendid 113-room AA 4-star Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel, in the heart of Stratford. The hotel resembles a traditional Tudor manor house with original 16thcentury features, including beams. After sightseeing, the hotel’s Vital Health & Wellbeing Club awaits, with a Technogym, 18-metre heated swimming pool, sauna and steam room.

For a special treat, lie back for 90 minutes of pampering with the glorious Macdonald Elemis Signature Treatment (from £85). It includes body exfoliation with warm oils, as does the wonderful Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow massage (from £40). Or you can try the skin-reviving Visible Brilliance Facial, which includes a micro-circulatory massage (from £63).

Alveston’s Manor Restaurant serves a classic British menu with a modern twist, while the Blue Lounge serves tasty snacks as well as drinks and tea and coffee.

travel-590-2The 18-metre pool at Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel

The hotel is just a short walk from a selection of shops and local attractions, including the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre. I walked to Shakespeare’s grave in the grounds of the Holy Trinity Church, on the banks of the River Avon, which isn’t far.

Most of the Shakespeare houses are in the town centre. Tickets are available to all the significant sites – Mary Arden’s Farm, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens, Halls Croft, New Place & Nash’s House – all of which boast costumed guides, informative displays and even performances of Shakespeare’s words to enjoy.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens, a short drive from the hotel, is a delight and is extremely well kept. The attraction’s guide was informative and can answer all your questions about Shakespeare and his wife.

New Place has been closed for improvements and research, but is due to reopen in April next year, with some interesting news about what archaeologists have found. Finally, of course you must see some Shakespeare while you are there. Next year’s RSC productions include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (17 February to 16 July) and Hamlet (12 March to 13 August). Tickets: 0844-800 1110, www.rsc.org.uk

Getting there
Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel offers a one-night Revitalise Spa Break, from £139 per person, including breakfast, dinner, use of spa and a 60-minute treatment (Modern Skin Facial, Body & Face Sensation, Deep Tissue Muscle Massage, Deluxe Manicure or Deluxe Pedicure): 0344-879 9138, www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/alveston
 
For more details on Shakespeare: 01789-204016, www.shakespeare.org.uk

Contact Wendy at wendy.gomersall@lady.co.uk 
Prices are correct at the time of going to press.



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