Welcombe - Rear of the Hotel & GardensTUCKED away down a long private drive, a stones-throw from the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon the Menzies Welcombe Hotel lives up to its name as soon as you arrive.

The building itself is stunning. Imposing in a grand and impressive way with a gorgeous entrance and a welcoming face to greet you at the reception once you get inside.

It’s a hotel with many strings to its bow. It has 78 en-suite bedrooms, a stunning spa, elegant gardens and a golf course.

Judging by the attire of many of the people in the reception area I’m guessing the golf course is its biggest draw, but that wasn’t what my wife and I came here for – we came to relax and unwind in a hotel known for its luxurious accommodation close to a town we’re very fond of. We weren’t disappointed.

It is as massive as it is magnificent.

Its grandeur seems to be evident at every turn and, making our way to our room was a wonderful journey up massive staircases and through wood-lined rooms.

The room itself was delightful. A very large room, with a four-poster bed, huge smart-TV, an Apple computer, iPod dock, coffee machine and telephone among its facilities.room 134 (s)

A huge bathroom was accessed through a dressing area, which featured large wardrobes and the bathroom itself had twin basins and a generously-sized bath and shower.

It was clean and comfortable with three huge windows letting in plenty of light and set at a perfect temperature, despite it being rather chilly outside.

Wandering back to the bar for some pre-dinner drinks, we had time to drink in the changing surroundings as we made our way to the restaurant for dinner, stopping at the bar for some drinks.

The lounge area was bustling. It’s a series of rooms with giant windows, period features and an extremely high ceiling with ornate chandeliers, decorations and paintings dotted around. There’s a lovely comfy and warm feel to the public areas, and staff are friendly and always around to help.

I’d read great things about the quality of the food at the Welcombe and we weren’t to be disappointed. I had mackerel, the wife chose a steak. Each meal was presented beautifully in the chef’s unique style.

For dessert, we opted to ignore our swollen stomachs and set about demolishing a delicious cheese board. A bottle of house red to wash it down hung around just long enough to accompany the last morsel.

We chose to relax in the lounge with an Irish Coffee and soak up the atmosphere.

It was quieter by now, and there was a gorgeous smell of the open fire, mixed in with the wood panelling and the antique furniture. It’s the kind of room you never want to leave, but we had a four-poster bed waiting with a huge TV and a Bond film was due to be screened so we called it a day.

We slept well and breakfast was another treat. Cold and hot buffets all served up until 10.30am. It has to be said, the highlight of the meal, if not the highlight of the stay, was the black pudding. Take that as a tip from me. I meant to ask where it was sourced from but I forgot. I regret that now.

We decided to treat ourselves to massages at the spa and it was worth every penny. The spa is stunning and the staff friendly and polite.

It’s a fairly modern and very attractive setup and seems a world away from the old-fashioned atmosphere of the hotel, but the two sit well together, it’s not an uncomfortable fit.

Before we set off to explore the local area I took a walk round the hotel’s grounds, which are almost as stunning as the building itself.

It has mature trees, large lawns, ponds, a stream, plenty of wildlife and the sun was shining on it all. Very calming.

Much has been written about Stratford as a destination and you are literally a few minutes away from it at the Welcombe. It’d be wrong of you not to call in for a visit. And that’s what we chose to do next.

What’s also well documented is the town’s connection to William Shakespeare. It was his place of birth and you’ll find plenty of reminders of that, not least the stunning Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

There’s an enthralling mix of buildings and architecture in Stratford, with some of the oldest Tudor buildings dotted about and housing everything from bakeries to a Wetherspoon pub.

While the shopping streets are a must-see, nobody should miss a stroll along the side of the River Avon or, better still, take a tip from me and cough up the £20 to hire your own motorboat for half an hour.

Weather permitting, Stratford from a boat is a real treat. You can gently chug past the theatre, the Holy Trinity church, the massive recreation ground or even wander off into the peace of the nearby countryside.

If self-drive motorboats aren’t your thing (there are cheaper rowing boats available) then you could opt for a river cruise and sit back in an all-weather barge watching the world go by.

While you’d be foolish to go to Stratford and not indulge yourself in some of its culture, there is plenty to see if you’re not a Shakespeare fan.

We only had a short time but one leaflet that caught our eye back at the hotel was a butterfly farm right by the river, near the centre of the town.

It was cheap to get in and set around a labyrinth of pathways in huge greenhouses. Why it came as a surprise, I’m not sure, but butterflies literally flap past you all the time while you’re in the buildings. It’s enthralling.

Maintained at a tropical temperature, with exotic plants, ponds, birds and decorations, the attraction is fascinating. Definitely worth seeing if you’re in the area, and especially if you have a young family.

In fact, there’s so much to do in Straford-upon-Avon it warrants much more than an overnight visit. Once you get to know it a bit, you’ll discover more and more of it.

That said, it does make a nice place for a quick getaway. I’m fortunate I live a few hours away so I’ll certainly be back for a return visit. There’s plenty of nice places to stay if you hunt around but the pick of the bunch has to be the stunning Menzies Welcombe Hotel. Treat yourself to a stay there, you won’t regret it.

FACT FILE

Set within a private estate of 157 acres, the four star Menzies Welcombe Hotel is acknowledged as one of the leading luxury country house hotels in the Heart of England.

Dating back to 1866, the Jacobean-style house offers 78 stylish en-suite bedrooms and a two-star AA rosette rated restaurant providing superb cuisine from snacks and afternoon teas to fine dining.

With eleven conference and banqueting suites and an 18 hole championship golf course, the hotel is an impressive and ideal venue for residential and day meetings as well as team building, incentive and private hospitality events.

The luxury Spa is perfect to relax in and boasts a level deck swimming pool, external vitality pool, heated loungers, foot spas, thermal experience rooms, a selection of treatment rooms, gymnasium, aerobics studio and all weather tennis courts.

Prices vary at the hotel with Standard bedrooms from £121.00 – £285.00

Executive bedrooms £140.00 – £305.00

Suites from £170.00 – £335.00

Four poster bedrooms from £210.00 – £405.00

Rates are Bed and Breakfast, and double occupancy.

For more information visit www.menzieshotels.co.uk/hotels/midlands/stratford-upon-avon-welcombe-hotel-spa-and-golf-club/ or call 01789 295252

Or email welcombe.reservations@menzieshotels.co.uk

For more information on the area visit www.shakespeares-england.co.uk

 

 

About Gareth Butterfield

Motoring and travel journalist Gareth Butterfield has a passion for writing reviews. Whether it be a biscuit or a Bugatti, 34-year-old Gareth will happily test it out and write about it. His job as a reporter for a large regional newspaper group has brought him plenty of opportunities to hone his skills and to produce articles for many titles and websites, mainly covering the Midlands. Over the years, Gareth has driven some of the most advanced and impressive cars in the world. As well as a few of the really rubbish ones.