Newest Review: ... from a 16th century inn). Full of wooden beams, black and white timber it is charming, whilst still managing to be comfortable. On the... more
Falcon Regal Hotel (Stratford Upon Avon)
Member Name: SWSt
Falcon Regal Hotel (Stratford Upon Avon)
Advantages: Beautiful old building with modern comforts built in
Disadvantages: Small car park
Staying in Stratford Upon Avon can be an expensive business. As a major tourist destination, hotel prices are often expensive, particularly if you want to stay right in the centre of the town. Pay cheaper prices and you're either going to get poorer accommodation or be a fair distance from the town itself. At least, that's what I always thought, until I stayed at the Legacy Falcon.
The hotel itself is almost slap bang in the middle of Stratford. Although set back on one of the side streets, it is less than five minutes' walk from the town centre or the newly refurbished RSC Theatre. This makes it very easy to find, as visitors can simply follow the signs for Stratford town centre and then take a right turn off the main street. We certainly had no problems finding it and the building, with its black and white timbered exterior is so striking looking that you will recognise it as soon as you see it.
The main issue we had was finding the car park which is tucked off down a side street and the entrance not immediately obvious. It's also situated on a one-way street so if you miss it first time around (as we did), you have to make your way back round to it, rather than simply being able to turn around. The entrance to the car park is also slightly confusing as there is a large sign as you go in telling you that you have to pay (quite a significant amount) to park there. In fact, this just applies to non-residents; residents of the hotel can park for free.
Entering the hotel for the first time was not quite what we expected. The old nature of the building exterior leads you to expect a dark, timbered interior. Nothing could be further from the truth. The lobby area is bright and airy - the sort of thing you would expect in a much more modern hotel. This makes it very welcoming and a pleasant place to wait whilst you check in.
In fact, there are two parts to the hotel: one is the old 16th century building (the lovely black and white timbered bit they show in all the photographs!) and a more modern annex (which is where reception is located). We have actually now stayed in both parts and each has their advantages and disadvantages. The older part is wonderfully atmospheric (as you would expect from a 16th century inn). Full of wooden beams, black and white timber it is charming, whilst still managing to be comfortable. On the downside, the rooms are smaller and a little more basic, as there are limits to what can be done with them. The more modern rooms are a lot more spacious and airy, but are also a lot more generic and feel like any hotel room anywhere in the world.
Check-in at the hotel is available from 2pm, which suited us fine as we didn't want to arrive too early (check-out time is 11am, which is also reasonable). The check-in process was very quick and efficient. All we had to do was allow the hotel to take an imprint of a credit card (to cover any additional charges accrued during the stay), enter our car registration in a terminal (to be eligible for free parking) and that was it. The receptionist on duty was very friendly and helpful (something which proved to be true throughout our stay) and provided us with excellent directions to our room, so we had no difficulty in finding it.
The layout of the hotel downstairs is as delightfully quaint. The whole place (particularly the older sections) is a rabbit warren of corridors all running off each other. Whilst this can be a little confusing when trying to find your way back to your room (particularly if you have been partaking of some of the excellent local beers!), it is also part of the hotel's charm. You'll soon find lots of different shortcuts to where you need to be that don't involve trudging up and down long corridors.
The downstairs area is given over to the dining and bar area and is set out in a very appealing way. Presumably due to the way the building has evolved over the years, there are several little self-contained public rooms going off the main corridors where you can retire with a drink. This makes for a very relaxing environment, as you can choose where you want to be and tuck yourself away in a corner if you would like a bit of peace and quiet, or go to one of the busier areas if you would like company. As well as the usual bog standard stuff, the hotel bar (which stays open late for residents) stocks a number of different real ales, which are well worth sampling. Free Wi-Fi is provided in the public areas and although I only tried it briefly, I had no difficulty getting connected.
I can't comment on the food, as we didn't eat in the hotel. However, when passing the dining room, it looked and smelled very good. Prices for food varied. The price of sandwiches was actually quite reasonable for the amount you got, but main meals were a little more expensive, although not excessively so. Certain dishes are even available 24 hours a day so if you arrive at a strange time, you can still get something to eat.
The room we were allocated on our first stay was very good. As we were in the original part of the building, our room was all decked out in low beams and black and white timbers and was genuinely charming. It was reasonably light (despite only having small windows), although as noted above, it was slightly smaller than you might normally expect from a hotel room, although it didn't feel cluttered.
Furniture was relatively sparse. A bed, wardrobe and two bedside cabinets together with a writing desk and office style chair were the only real pieces of furniture. The major drawback to this room was that there was no space for any easy style chairs. This did mean that if you wanted to sit down to read or watch TV, you had to use the bed. This was not a problem for us, as we were out most of the time and mainly used the room for sleeping in, but it may be a consideration if you intend spending longer periods in your room.
If you are in the more modern part of the hotel, you will find that these issues evaporate, as the rooms are bigger and so have more furniture in them. On balance (having stayed in both parts), we love the atmosphere of the older section, but have to confess that the greater comfort offered by the more modern rooms has an even greater appeal!
I was half expecting the room we had to be slightly noisy at night, as it was on a corner overlooking the main road. As the old part of the hotel is a listed building, double glazing is not fitted in all the rooms, and I was initially a little concerned about this. In fact, after about 10.30pm, there were very few noises coming from outside, as Stratford is a relatively quiet place at night (at least outside of the main tourist season!) and we were not disturbed at all. The biggest disturbance came when the recycled glass was collected, which made a real racket fairly early in the morning!
The biggest issue we found related to the car park, which was rather small. The hotel has about 80 rooms, yet the car park has space for less than 50 cars. This situation is further exacerbated by the fact that non-guests of the hotel can park there on a pay and display basis, which potentially further limits the spaces available. This wasn't an issue when we checked in on the Friday afternoon and we were able to get a space relatively easily. However, on returning the hotel on Saturday evening, there were no spaces to be found.
Thankfully, the hotel staff are obviously used to dealing with this and were very accommodating and helpful. On reporting the problem to reception, they immediately phoned the manager who directed us to a place where parking where not really permitted (within the hotel confines) or, on another occasions to some staff-only spaces and assured us we would be OK there (which we were). It's this extra little level of service which marks the hotel out as something special.
Of course, the other big drawback to staying at this hotel was the cost. A four star hotel in a busy tourist town like Stratford Upon Avon does not come cheap and even a basic double room with no meals included costs at least £90-100 per night. This rate also does vary quite considerably, depending on when you go, so you might be looking at even more! That said, for what you get, the prices are a lot more reasonable than many of the other hotels in Stratford. Thanks to its central location and picturesque outlook, the hotel is also very popular, so rooms can be hard to come by during the tourist season - definitely one you need to book in advance!
Situated in one of the most picturesque black and white buildings in Stratford Upon Avon, the Legacy Falcon hotel is a great place to stay. The old 16th century building remains intact and provides a charming, different atmosphere, whilst the hotel itself has been well adapted to ensure that visitors can stay in an old building whilst enjoying modern comforts!
Legacy Falcon Hotel
Stratford Upon Avon
CV 37 6HA
© Copyright SWSt 2011
Summary: It's unlikely we would stay anywhere else