Accommodation-wise, our last trip to Stratford upon Avon was not a success. Our normal hotel, the Legacy Falcon, was full so we had to find an alternative and our replacement, The Best Western Grosvenor was not a good choice (see my earlier review if you want to know more). This year, the Falcon had to be ruled out n grounds of price (£175 per night. Eek!), so we were once again left looking for an alternative. This year's choice - the Alveston Manor -proved a much wiser decision.
Alveston Manor is very easy to find and simply involves making your way to Stratford and driving down Clopton Bridge (the old bridge that runs across the river close to the town centre). The Alveston Manor sits just before a roundabout at the end of the bridge. Essentially, if you can't find it, you probably shouldn't be driving!
There's no doubt that the hotel is impressive to look at and has a long and interesting history (helpfully recounted in a room guide). The main body of the hotel is still unmistakably Elizabethan architecture and, whilst the it has been updated to modern standards, there is still that sense of timelessness. Local lore says that the first ever performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream took place under a tree which still stands in the grounds today. The hotel has been sympathetically renovated and decorated to retain original features (the wood panelling in the bar) and reflect its history (pictures of various Tudor monarchs and Shakespearean actors/charades adorn the walls). So although there is never any doubt that you are staying in a chain hotel, at least they have tried to capture something of the local character.
Staff at the hotel were friendly and efficient and we were checked in and out in a matter of minutes and with minimum fuss. Elsewhere staff you encountered in the hotel generally greeted you with a friendly "hello", which is a small thing, but really makes you feel welcome.
A perennial problem for Stratford hotels is guest parking, which is usually at a premium. This is not a problem for the Alveston Manor. A small car park at the front of the building gets quickly filled up, but there is a large overflow car park at the back which we never had problems getting into. Although there is a charge of £5 per stay to park your car, this is perfectly reasonable and it was liberating to be able to go out at any time and not have to worry about what you would do with your car when you got back.
The room we had was really very good. It was actually a lot more spacious than I had expected and well furnished without feeling cramped. A long table ran down one side of the room giving lots of space to put things, whilst a more formal writing desk in the corner was available for any budding authors. There was a nice mix of comfortable seating (an armchair type seat with a small occasional table) and more formal dining room chairs. All in all, it was very comfortable indeed.
The bathroom was perhaps a little more functional in standard hotel decor of white tiles. Unfortunately, the bathroom had had little bit less TLC over the years and was showing its age a little with several of the tiles cracked and a rather primitive (though perfectly functional) tap system on the bath/shower.
If the bathroom was a little underwhelming, the room had yet to reveal two things which more than made up for it. First of all, the bed was incredibly comfortable. Normally when I stay in hotels, I struggle to sleep because the beds and/or pillows are not too hard or too soft. This one was fantastic. Both nights we were there, Mrs SWSt and I had a great night's sleep - just as good (possibly better!) as if we had been in our own bed at home.
The second revelation came when we discovered that the room was fitted with guest-controllable air-conditioning. Hotel rooms are normally hotter than the Sahara with the heating centrally controlled and another reason why I never sleep never well. The ability to control temperature to your own preference was brilliant - I just wish other hotels would take a leaf out of the Alveston Manor's book.
One of my concerns when we booked the hotel was that it was also a sports/spa complex and I was slightly worried that sporty types would make a lot of noise going about their sporty activities. In fact, the sports complex is in a separate building from the actual hotel, so this really wasn't an issue. Our stay was wonderfully peaceful with hardly any noise for the corridor outside or other parts of the hotel to disturb us.
We didn't particularly avail ourselves of any of the hotel's other facilities, choosing to dine elsewhere. However, the bar was a real disappointment. We popped in there after our theatre trip, hoping to have a few pints of real ale before bed and were sorely disappointed. The only beers available were the standard commercial stuff like Carlsberg or Tetley's, with nothing out of the ordinary. In fairness, the hotel's sister pub over the road does have an impressive collects of real ales, but our theatre performance finished too late to allow us to go there, so it was our hotel bar or nothing. In the face of the (lack of) choices available, we went for nothing.
Overall, we were very impressed with the Alveston Manor. Our booking (at the start of the holiday season) was about £95 per room, per night. This is pretty much in line with many of the other hotels in Stratford and for the accommodation we got, we felt it offered very good value for money. We would certainly not hesitate to stay there again. Our only real problem in future is going to be agreeing where to go. All things being equal, I still have a small preference for The Falcon; Mrs SWSt has now shifted her allegiance to the Alveston Manor. I'll keep you posted on who wins!
(C) Copyright SWSt 2013