If you’re looking for short break inspiration then make sure that Stratford-upon-Avon is on your list. With faraway travels off many people’s radar this year, you really don’t need to go very far to have a perfect short escape.
Stratford-upon-Avon is just an hour away from Leicester; far enough to feel like you’ve travelled somewhere, but close enough to limit any hassle. The town is steeped in history – from being the birthplace of William Shakespeare to the wonderful traditional Tudor buildings that have been maintained as you explore the area. There are activities aplenty, from the Tudor World Museum to entertain and educate the kids, to boat hire on the river, plus, of course, there’s fantastic food and drink options throughout the whole town, making it a wonderful spot for a couple’s break.
The town itself is only small and very easy to navigate, whether you’re shopping in the many wonderful boutique and independent stores, sightseeing, or simply going on a self guided food and drink trail. Down by the river stands the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, of course closed at the moment, it’s an absolute must visit for future trips when they re-open. Alongside it lies the waterside with boat trips, a floating restaurant, ferris wheel and more. It’s a beautiful spot and if you’re lucky enough to be there on a Sunday don’t miss the weekly market with street food, crafts and gifts on sale from local traders.
Where to stay
We were invited to stay at Hotel Indigo and we couldn’t have picked anywhere more perfect. The historic building has a beautiful traditional Tudor frontage (see featured images) and is situated right in the heart of the town. The building itself was originally built as a townhouse in the 16th century but became an Inn not long after Shakespeare’s death and has remained so ever since. As the hotel has been extended there is a newer aspect to the building at the back offering the best of both worlds with the hotel’s interior. The rooms are furnished with quirky and vibrant decor, keeping the Shakespearean element in so many of the features. Of course in these times we have to mention Covid measures and the hotel has taken significant steps to make the hotel 100% Covid safe. Breakfast and tables in the bar must all be pre-booked, social distancing is in place throughout the hotel and it was a completely safe and pleasant experience throughout. The staff from check in and throughout the stay were excellent
The front part of the hotel is packed full of period features and the bar areas, including the Snug, are perfect for relaxing with a glass of wine or a cocktail. The bar menu is extensive with a fantastic range of cocktails and again the service was excellent.
Of course the tradition of hotel breakfast has changed somewhat over recent months but Hotel Indigo have worked to make your start to the day as good as can be. The self serve breakfast buffet has been replaced with a lovely continental selection which somebody will serve to you (yes, repeat visits are allowed). Choose from a range of cereals, pastries, smoked salmon, deli meats, cheese, granola and yoghurt before also ordering your choice of cooked breakfast from the menu. The quality of produce was evident throughout, with the full english fully locally sourced.
The Woodsman is an absolute star of Stratford Upon Avon’s dining scene. Located within Hotel Indigo, The Woodsman restaurant and bar are independently run and owned by restaurateur Mike Robinson. We dined in the restaurant on one of the evenings during our stay and the experience was nothing short of exceptional. Recently named Best New Restaurant in the UK by The Good Food Guide 2020, the ‘field to fork’ philosophy of the menu stands out as among the best I’ve been fortunate enough to try.
Traditional and rustic in interior style, a large wood-fired oven and charcoal grill form the focal point of the restaurant, with the menu featuring Haunch and Faggot of Wild Gloucestershire Fallow Deer, Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop, and other meats of the absolute highest quality. For non-meat eaters the menu has a nice offer of fish and vegetarian dishes, but for vegans there may be more of a struggle.
The menu is ever changing and the quality is maintained throughout with only the finest produce used, meat aged in their own butchery and incredible detail in every dish.
One item that seems to stay on the menu is the Wild Venison Scotch Egg starter, an absolute must try and arguably the best scotch egg I’ve ever had (and if you follow us on Instagram you’ll know I’ve tried a few!) Cooked to perfection with a soft yolk and served with muntjac lollipops, it’s an incredible dish.
We were fortunate with the main course to be able to try one of the daily specials and the largest steak I’ve ever laid my eyes on. The T-Bone steak was brought out to the table with details of how long it had been aged, and was then served with stuffed mushrooms, potatoes and an iceberg wedge. The meal was outstanding. Made only better by The Woodsman’s famous dirty mash – topped with truffle, onion and rich gravy. (If you’re wondering – yes, that beast of a steak was for both of us to share).
Some meals are those that you know you’ll never forget. This was one of them.
If visiting in the summer the restaurant also has use of the hotel’s wonderful walled garden and we can’t wait for a return visit to experience that.
At Hotel Indigo the cost of room is from £99/night or £109/night with breakfast. The average cost for a two course meal at The Woodsman is £35/person.
The whole experience at Hotel Indigo and The Woodsman couldn’t have been better. For just an hour’s drive it allowed 2 days of escapism and couldn’t come more highly recommended from us.
Find full information and book online please visit the Hotel Indigo website.
We were invited to stay at Hotel Indigo and received our stay and meal at The Woodman free of charge. However we were under no obligation to write a positive review. It’s just really that lovely!