October 20, 2020

THAIPUPPET

travel

The Inspector reviews Billesley Manor Hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon

An Inspector calls… at Billesley Manor Hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon and says the Bard would have liked the cosy dining room – but he doubts the £5.6m refurb included his bedroom

  • Shakespeare is said to have written As You Like It in what is now the hotel’s As You Like It Lounge 
  • The Inspector says the restaurant’s dinner service was ‘excellent’, but he was not impressed by breakfast
  • He was also disappointed with his bedroom, which had ‘peeling wallpaper and grubby armchairs’  

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Billesley Manor, near Stratford-upon-Avon, had a good lockdown, with £5.6million being lavished on it as part of an extensive refurbishment.

‘Was it a complete overhaul?’ I ask at reception, after being handed a key to room 24 on the ground floor, plus a five page Covid-19 Precautions document.

‘Yes, the whole hotel. The timing was good for us.’ But I don’t believe room 24 was given much of a nip and tuck. 

Billesley Manor, near Stratford-upon-Avon, which has had £5.6million lavished on it as part of an extensive refurbishment

Billesley Manor, near Stratford-upon-Avon, which has had £5.6million lavished on it as part of an extensive refurbishment

The Inspector says that Billesley is 'a magnificent Elizabethan manor with wonderful gardens, including topiary of the highest order laid out like a chess board, and an 11th-century church'. Pictured is the lounge and reception area

The Inspector says that Billesley is ‘a magnificent Elizabethan manor with wonderful gardens, including topiary of the highest order laid out like a chess board, and an 11th-century church’. Pictured is the lounge and reception area

How else to account for peeling, dark mauve wallpaper, grubby arms on the two mauve armchairs and blotches on the tables?

And how could the framed ‘artwork’, featuring the words ‘ShakeSpear’ and ‘Tragicall Historie of Hamlet’, have avoided the skip?

My heart sinks further at the sight of anti-theft hangers. The towel rail is cold and the light on the magnifying mirror is bust. 

One of the Inspector's gripes is that there's a 'corporate whiff about it all, complete with an infuriating central booking system that clocks off at 6pm'

One of the Inspector’s gripes is that there’s a ‘corporate whiff about it all, complete with an infuriating central booking system that clocks off at 6pm’

The bar, lounge and reception area of the hotel, which is run by the expanding Bespoke Hotel chain

The bar, lounge and reception area of the hotel, which is run by the expanding Bespoke Hotel chain

It’s such a pity because this is a magnificent Elizabethan manor with wonderful gardens, including topiary of the highest order laid out like a chess board, and an 11th-century church.

It’s just that there’s a corporate whiff about it all, complete with an infuriating central booking system (it’s part of the expanding Bespoke Hotel chain) that clocks off at 6pm, just when you might want to talk to a human being.

On the way to the bar and restaurant I look in at the library, renamed the As You Like It Lounge, featuring a ceiling with books stuck to it. The Bard is said to have written his comedy here.

Certainly he would have felt at home in the wood-panelled, cosy dining room, its inglenook fireplace the biggest I’ve ever seen. What’s more, the chef’s on top form and the service is excellent.

The As You Like It Lounge, featuring a ceiling with books stuck to it. The Bard is said to have written his comedy here

The As You Like It Lounge, featuring a ceiling with books stuck to it. The Bard is said to have written his comedy here

Shakespeare would have felt at home in the wood-panelled, cosy dining room (pictured), declares the Inspector

Shakespeare would have felt at home in the wood-panelled, cosy dining room (pictured), declares the Inspector 

One of the refurbished bedrooms at Billesley Manor. The Inspector strongly suspects that his, room 24, had not received a nip and tuck

One of the refurbished bedrooms at Billesley Manor. The Inspector strongly suspects that his, room 24, had not received a nip and tuck

I’m on my own in a corner. At a table two metres away is an amorous couple sitting side by side, her hand stroking his knee and moving to his inner thigh. When the kissing starts I avert my gaze.

The public areas are so much more pleasant than room 24, but I sleep soundly. 

Breakfast is nothing like the night before; my scrambled eggs are watery and the bacon overly flaxen.

‘Are you sure room 24 was included in the refurbishment?’ I ask a different receptionist at check out. She chooses not to answer. ‘Well, I hope it wasn’t,’ I tell her, as politely as possible.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Billesley Manor Hotel, Alcester, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire B49 6NF, Call 01789 279 955 or visit billesleymanor.com. Doubles from £99 B&B. 

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