Check into the Arden Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, and you couldn’t get closer to the historical Shakespearean action that this town has thrived upon for centuries if you tried. If you have one of the riverside rooms and a good aim, you could probably fly a paper airplane from the window into the grounds of the Royal Shakespeare Theater complex opposite. It’s that close.
Part of the Eden Hotel Collection and sister to Ciao Bambino favorite Bovey Castle down in Devon, England, the Arden is an upscale boutique hotel not only in look but also in feel. As soon as you step into the reception area, it’s made clear that the staff will go all out to make your stay a special one.
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As already noted, the hotel is next door to the RSC theaters, which not only has a rolling program of plays but also offers a variety of behind-the-scenes tours and The Play’s The Thing, an exhibition designed to get kids excited about the Bard. Most of the major Shakespeare attractions —Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Hall’s Croft, Shakespeare’s New Place, Tudor World and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guild Hall — are within walking distance too. This hotel really is in the heart of the medieval town, which is crammed with shops, tearooms and restaurants.
Talking of eating places, you won’t go wrong just sticking with the hotel catering. Served in the beautifully appointed Waterside Brasserie, the breakfast is just what you need to set yourselves up for a day of sightseeing, with the traditional English breakfast dishes offered alongside more on-trend favorites such as smashed avo’ on toast. The lunch and afternoon tea options looked equally as varied and delicious. After gorging on the welcome treats in the rooms, however, we saved ourselves for dinner and tucked into a fantastic three-course meal. Those two AA rosettes, an impressive accolade for chefs in the UK, are well deserved. There is a lot of choice on the children’s menu too, and everything we ordered was beautifully presented.
With a view onto the River Avon, our interconnecting bedrooms were beautifully decorated in an understated luxurious style and much more spacious than your typical city-break hotel rooms. The bathrooms featured deep tubs, fluffy towels and robes, and the bedrooms had exceedingly comfy beds and ample storage space. Although it was cold and rainy outside, they were always really cozy.
The hotel’s intimate lounges and bar areas are all thoughtfully designed in a classic contemporary style and very inviting. We visited in fall, but the terrace and adjoining formal knot garden overlooking the River Avon looked to be lovely places to enjoy a pre-theater drink or meal in the summer months.
The hotel has a stack of DVDs for all ages that you can order up to watch in your room, plus PlayStations that you can borrow and a variety of board games. There is so much to do in and around the property, however, that you will probably be out exploring for most of your stay. There is a car park too, a bonus in a town center. If you have a car, you can venture further outside of the town to explore the pretty Cotswold villages dotted around the area and the nearby historic towns of Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa.
Editor’s Note: Anna received a media package to review The Arden Hotel for families. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by The Arden Hotel and Anna Tobin.
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