I have just returned from a one night weekend stay with friends at this hotel. We enjoyed our stay, I think we had good value for money with our package, but there were a number of frustrations with the hotel which, to me, indicated a lack of strong management.
On arrival around 10.30am on Saturday morning, my first impression of the hotel was very good: a well signed entrance, the drive surrounded by fields, then the first view of the beautiful old manor house, with a topiary garden, tennis courts, a smart front lawn with plenty of outside tables to enjoy the sunshine, then I parked and went in to be greeted by friendly staff. I wasn't given a great deal of information about the hotel, where to find things, but wandered around and discovered what I needed to know. Inside, most of the public areas of the main hotel building are very old and quite warren-like with narrow twisting corridors and steps here and there. It is beautiful inside with oak panelled rooms, beautiful ornate fireplaces, tapestries on the walls and lots of historical character.
My friends arrived and, not knowing the area, we decided to have lunch at the hotel. We sat outside in the sunshine and the staff from the bar were very nice and helpful, bringing us a jug of iced water, as well as our drinks from the bar. However, the food was average and expensive: basic sandwiches with crisps on the side for £8; I had the meal of the day, which was smoked mackerel and potato salad which turned out to be a starter size portion, which was £12. Later, we returned to sit outside and ordered a bottle of prosecco. This was £30 for the bottle, which I think unjustifiably steep, and despite there being two staff in the bar, neither offered to open the bottle nor carry it outside to our table for me.
There had been a wedding on the previous day/ evening, so on Saturday morning the staff were seemingly getting straight from the night before. However, when I wandered into the topiary garden on Saturday afternoon, there were still glasses and plates from the previous evening which had not been cleared up. The next morning, I again wandered into the topiary garden and the same dirty things were still there.
My friends and I had booked a package which included use of the spa and treatments. My half hour massage was fantastic and the pedicure nice, too. The spa included a gym, pool, sauna and steam room. We enjoyed these facilities, but the pool area was less than tranquil with kids allowed in the pool in both morning and afternoon sessions. This made the pool a great facility for local members and visiting families, but might not appeal to some adults. A further irritation: on Saturday, I asked the spa staff what time it was open on Sunday morning as we planned to use the pool and gym before breakfast; I was told it opened at 8.00am. At shortly after 8.00am, I found the spa shut and the cleaning staff waiting outside to get in. About 8.15am, I went to reception and I was told the hotel could not open the spa due to 'health and safety' until the spa staff arrived and the hotel seemed to be unaware that the spa staff had not arrived. Then, someone from the hotel came and unlocked the spa, so we could get in.
Our package also included dinner. The restaurant is attractively old and old fashioned in style. The staff were nice but seemed to lack a strong maitre'd. We were brought an 'amuse bouche' which was something fruity in a shot glass but the waitress did not know what was in it and had to go away and find out when asked. Our package included 3 courses from a table d'hôte menu, which looked perfectly nice. Some in our group stuck to this; others selected items from the carte. My friend found a tangle of hairs in her pork cheek starter (hopefully animal, but not definitely so and not pleasant); she didn't make a fuss, but did tell the waiter, who rightly looked shocked but took away the plate without further comment from him or the kitchen. A scallop starter was very good, sea trout from the carte was very nice, although this and a few other dishes had been garnished with dill whose overpowering flavour dominated and some disliked it. A slow cooked lamb dish from the carte was a large portion and very flavoursome. Afterwards, one friend had cheese, which was fantastic and a really generous portion, too. Puddings were a little less successful: rhubarb and custard cheesecake was ok, although not at all like cheesecake; a 'strudel' of pecan and banana served with peanut butter ice cream was a heavy, pastry concoction that was not at all like strudel and did not work, whilst the peanut butter ice cream was bland and a missed opportunity.
We had three rooms between five of us, as they could not offer us a triple room. One friend was quite happy to have a room to herself, but it was a bit of a shame that this room was some way from the others and also that it was above a function room in which there was a party and live band on Saturday night. I don't believe the hotel was full and even if it was, this room would have been better given to someone staying over from this party. My room was a good size, it looked nice, as did the bathroom, which worked fine; but unfortunately the hair dryer did not work at all and the bed I slept on (we had two single beds pushed next to each other) was almost broken and therefore sagged really badly and I had to sleep on the edge of the mattress where it was at its firmest.
Overall, I liked the hotel and would consider returning if I had a similar package and could ensure I
had a decent bed to sleep on! The historic building and beautiful setting were the biggest draw. It is also just 4 miles from Stratford upon Avon, so you could base yourself at this pretty, country hotel and take in the local sights.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The 16th Century, four-star Billesley Manor Hotel has 72 bedrooms and sits in 11 acres of beautiful countryside just outside the medieval town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, discover the myths and magic of Warwick Castle, then enjoy a quiet moment in the hotel’s library, where legend claims that Shakespeare penned As You Like It.A beautiful country retreat with a Health & Leisure Club that features an indoor pool and outdoor tennis court. The hotel also has a listed 100-year-old topiary garden and fountain. The 2 AA Rosette Stuart Restaurant serves modern British food made from seasonal, local produce. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Barcelo Stratford Upon Avon
- Stratford Upon Avon Barcelo
- Billesley Manor Hotel Stratford-Upon-Avon, England