Like myself, the first contact most people would have had with the world of William Shakespeare was from their schooldays. I was studying English literature at secondary school and we `had’ to do a play! Not knowing much about the world of drama, theatre or poetry, it was not something I was particularly looking forward to.
The play we were going to study was a tragedy, titled Romeo and Juliet about two young lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families! It did not sound like I was going to enjoy this play.
To help me get to grips with the dialogue, I also watched the 1968 film adaptation by director Franco Zefferelli starring the stunning Olivia Hussey as Juliet and Leonard Whiting as her co-star crossed lover. I absolutely loved the play and from that day forward was hooked, visiting the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on several occasions over my adult years to soak up more of the Bard`s greatest works.
I was back in Stratford Upon Avon staying at Arden House, which is a new and unique addition to the Eden Hotel Collection, a small chain of eight distinctive hotels. Situated in a residential area, overlooking a small park, the house is a short walk from the RSC’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare`s birthplace, Schoolrooms and Guildhall, New Place, Hall`s Croft, the beautiful river Avon and central shopping district.
Arden House is not your typical Hotel! It is an original and individual twist on the B&B Luxury Guesthouse concept. When I arrived, I was not met by a receptionist but a “house host” named Laurie, who greeted my wife and I warmly. Laurie showed us the wood-floored garden room and welcoming lounge area, complete with a self-serve drinks trolley and a good range of quality books, magazines and newspapers.
As Arden House is situated in a pleasant, quiet area of Stratford away from the busy High street, we were guaranteed a good night’s sleep. I was already beginning to feel home from home!
“Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet
Our “house host” Laurie also told us we were free to help ourselves to anything from “The Pantry” sideboard when we felt peckish, at any time day or night! It was going to be very difficult to resist, as it was topped up with crisps, popcorn, biscuits and lots of other tempting munchies as well as hot and soft drinks.
The smart 10-room town House is the `little sister` to the much larger Arden Hotel, a short walk from the house, which is where we went to enjoy our evening meal. The house was originally two semis – detached Victorian houses which have been converted and refurbished to provide an elegant, inviting and relaxed haven to relax in after visiting the Shakespearean sights, boating on the river or a little retail therapy in the towns many good, quality shops and restaurants.
Our room, overlooking the small car park at the rear of the property, was comfortable and relaxing with stylish furniture many quality fixtures and fittings. There were several `street scene` prints hanging on the walls, a huge comfortable `king size` bed covered with richly embroidered soft cushions and several plump pillows. The headboard was richly patterned adding a touch of class and flair to the ambience of the room.
Ceiling to floor embellished curtains framed the large sash windows and there was a small desk, fixed wardrobe, satellite television, a large mirror on the wall and a small easy chair. A much-appreciated gesture were the bottles of spring water, fruit and `take away` gift of a small bottle of `Stratford Gin`.
The shower bathroom was huge with light-marble tiled shower and bath, with fluffy white towels, ESPA toiletries and dressing gowns. It was like staying in a small luxury home in the country!
I had arrived in time for the `complimentary` afternoon tea, which was superb. Served daily between 3-4pm. I sat and enjoyed an assembly of mouth -watering sandwiches, cakes and treats. Vegetable Tartlet, Rolled ham Sandwich, Open Egg Spread sandwich, Fish on bagel Bread roll, Scone & Clotted Cream, Chocolate Brownie and Battenberg. Our choice of tea was served in the finest Wedgewood China cups, saucers and plates.
Although on this occasion, I did not partake, all guests are invited to sip a gin and tonic at 5.00pm or Gin O’clock! When we arrived back at the house after eating at the Arden Hotel, we were invited to enjoy a night cap before retiring. We sat and enjoyed a glass of Armagnac, whilst playing Ludo in the comfortable lounge area.
There is no restaurant at Arden House, but they do provide an excellent breakfast service. There was a large “family home style” dining table which was full of guests on the morning I was visiting. The breakfast was notable and the waiting `hosts` were professional but not intrusive. I enjoyed the full English which was superbly cooked and presented.
The Arden House breakfast Menu included many options including the “Classic Eggs Benedict”, Severn & Wye smoked salmon on a crumpet with sour cream, avocado and keta caviar; omelettes with a variety of fillings; and specials such as the excellent wild mushroom and wilted spinach on brioche topped with a free range poached egg and hollandaise. Savoury and Sweet waffles were also an option. An excellent breakfast choice with as much tea, coffee and toast as you could eat and drink! The menu made careful reference to food allergens. I had not seen Lupin written as an allergy before!
If you are visiting Stratford Upon Avon and are looking for comfortable, peaceful, luxury `home from home` environment in which to relax, I would highly recommend Arden House.
Arden – the name of the magical forest in Shakespeare’s As You Like It
Arden House is a unique place to stay, providing an alternative to the ‘traditional’ hotel environment, it offers a stylish, inviting and relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy peaceful and comfortable accommodation with luxury extras!
Address: 58-59 Rother St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6LT
The hotel’s car park is located to the rear of the hotel, which is accessed from Rother Street. Please note that the car park cannot be accessed from Scholars Lane. For guests using a Sat-Nav please use the postcode CV37 6LT. The car park is small, but if places are not available you will be redirected to The Arden Hotel car park, a few minutes away, after dropping off your luggage.
t: 01789 298682
f: 01789 206989
Disclosure: My stay was courtesy of Eden Hotel Collection.