“ Address: Wilmcote / Stratford-Upon-Avon CV37 9XJ / Warwickshire „
When my fiancé and I recently spent a week in Stratford-upon-Avon, we needed somewhere to stay. We wanted to be quite near to all the attractions Shakespeare's birthplace has to offer, but I wanted a hotel that was a nice place to spend some time, not some impersonal Travelodge or Premier Inn. While those are great for one or two nights, we wanted to stay four nights so decided on something a bit more individual. We couldn't afford something too expensive though and we wanted breakfast included, as my fiancé eats loads!
We searched on booking.com and found a great deal - a lovely inn in Wilmcote for four nights for a total of £233.36. This included a room for the two of us with a four-poster bed, plus full English breakfast each morning. At £58.34 a night, this sounded a good deal. We checked where Wilmcote was and discovered it was about three miles from Stratford, so it would be easy to go in and out of the town as we wished. We booked the Mary Arden Inn and arrived there on the Monday.
We had to check in between 3:30pm and 9pm on the Monday and check out before 11am on the Friday. We arrived about 3:15pm, but the staff was happy enough to check us in a bit early and the process was fast enough and friendly. The man on reception helped us with our luggage and showed us to our room on the first floor.
The Inn has eleven en-suite bedrooms and they all have a Shakespearean theme. Each room includes a TV, iron and ironing board, CD stereo system, tea and coffee making facilities and a copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare! They have a honeymoon suite with a four-poster bed and a lounge, plus two bedrooms with four-poster beds like ours had. Each room is named after a Shakespeare play and we had the King Lear room, which included a framed picture of the play on the wall near the bed.
The room was tastefully decorated and spacious enough for the two of us. It was a good mix of all the modern facilities like a TV and DVD player with old looking furniture, a writing desk and a huge wardrobe. We stayed the five days there and found it very comfortable and a good place to relax after a day sight-seeing and shopping.
The four-poster bed was lovely, really big and had lots of cushions on top, as well as having blankets on instead of a duvet. The only problem I had was that they included both feather pillows and non-feather ones and as I am asthmatic, I had to remove the feather ones before going to sleep.
There was a pretty view out of the window, but no net curtains which meant when we were changing, we had to have the heavy curtains shut, which made the room dark. Our room was also situated directly above the seating outside the pub, so when people were smoking there, the smoke drifted up to our window.
The lighting was good with handy bedside lights. I also appreciated the full-length mirror on the wall outside the bathroom and the hairdryer that was in the room too.
The bathroom was spacious and well decorated with a shower, bath, sink and toilet. Each day when our room was cleaned, the soap, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles were replaced. This was rather wasteful, as they had usually only been used a small amount and I would have preferred the option of being more environmentally friendly and keeping the same toiletries until they had been finished.
The amount of tea, coffee, milk and sugar provided was enough for our needs and we had new biscuits provided every day too. (Is it just me that takes all these things home after a hotel stay?) One slightly annoying thing was that we had to unplug the kettle if we both needed to recharge our phones, as there didn't seem to be too many power points in the room.
Breakfast was served for an hour in the mornings, between 8:30am and 9:30am during the week. We usually ate around 8:30am, but it might be a bit of an early start if you like your lie-ins on holiday. Both of us are early risers, so it was timed about right for us. There was a full English breakfast served, which my fiancé ate - eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pudding, etc. I usually ate toast with butter and jam and had a yoghurt (which were all vegetarian). There was also cereal, fruit and three different fruit juices provided, as well as tea and coffee. I had fried eggs on toast one morning and as I am pregnant, I asked if the chef could ensure they were well cooked, which was done and afterwards, the chef came out to check they were to my liking.
The staff were all friendly, helpful and obliging throughout our stay, especially the man we assume was the manager, as he seemed to do a bit of everything and appeared to be always there working. There seemed to be quite a small team as I think we only saw five members of staff besides the cleaners.
The Inn has a restaurant and bar and is quite a thriving pub for the locals. The food is home-made and uses locally sourced produce, which is always an attraction for me and my fiancé. It wasn't too expensive, so we ate there one night. I had a vegetarian lasagne with chips and a salad (£8.95) while my partner had Cajun chicken with chips (£10.95). The food was okay, but nothing special. I found a bit of crunchy soil in my salad, while my partner found the chips a bit tasteless. It is probably best to eat out in Stratford, which has loads of great eating places for all price ranges.
Wilmcote is a beautiful location and it has a lovely quiet village appeal. The Mary Arden Inn is just over the road from Mary Arden's Farm, one of the five Shakespearean attractions and where William's mother lived, so if you stay at the Inn, you can nip across the road to have a look round the farm, which we did one day. (It's well worth a visit.)
The Mary Arden Inn is somewhere we would stay again, if we return to the area, as overall it was very good. There were a few little niggles, but the bedroom was comfortable and had good facilities, so we felt it was really worth the money.
The Mary Arden Inn has a good website with lots of information and photographs. Dooyoo won't let me put the link here, but you'll find it easy enough by googling 'Mary Arden Inn, Wilmcote'.