Shakespeare's birthplace is the perfect setting for a spa break
Think of Stratford-on-Avon and you immediately think of its famous bard, but I was aiming to visit for a relaxing spa weekend with a good friend. The Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel and Spa in Stratford-on-Avon is a 4-star variety offering a comfortable, traditional stay with a swimming pool, steam room, sauna and treatment rooms (Vital Health and Wellbeing Club). For a start, it’s only a short walk to the town centre (handy for some shopping) yet is set in its own lovely grounds. Popular for weddings and special occasions, when we visited the sun was shining, it was Mother’s Day and Stratford was full to bursting with tourists.
Part of the Macdonald Hotel group, which includes the grand Randolph Hotel in Oxford, there are 45 in all, spread throughout the country from city centre to country. Alveston Manor, with its wonderful Tudor frontage and leaded light windows sits perfectly as it does, close to the river and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The exterior may look Tudor but the inside is very modern, although it does have low-ceilinged beams and an open fireplace in the lounge where we sat with after-dinner drinks. The landscaped, private gardens are ideal for sitting out with a drink in warmer weather or if not, there are patio heaters with parasols to make the experience more bearable!
When hotels state they are ‘minutes away from the city centre’ you can usually expect a trudge of half an hour or more but Alveston Manor really is just minutes away and we enjoyed a wander round the shops in Stratford on Avon and a snack by the river before heading back to enjoy the spa.
We stayed in a Classic Double on the ground floor, which was nicely furnished and had all the mod cons you would expect of a 4-star hotel, such as TV with freeview, tea/coffee making facilities, toiletries, ironing board and iron, hairdryer, trouser press and free wi-fi. It was also immaculate with lovely soft beds and heavy drapes and a spacious ensuite with power shower.
The swimming pool is large, with recliners around the edge for relaxing and there’s a sauna and steam room to enjoy. There’s also a fitness studio compete with all the usual exercise equipment should you be feeling energetic.
The treatment room area is the ultimate in relaxation; serenely lit by low-level candles with a pervading aroma of essential oils and low-key music. We opted for a 55-minute body massage - ‘Alleviate stress, ease aching muscles and revive the senses with this powerful, customised massage. Dynamic blends of Essential Oils are prescribed to target individual needs and reduce specific stress and muscle tension.’ It was expertly delivered with oils chosen by me. They use luxury brand Elemis products for their treatments and provide you with a list at the end of your session so you can purchase the products if desired. I felt incredibly relaxed after my treatment – in fact, I wondered why I don’t so this more often.
Our evening meal was in the Manor Restaurant, complete with old style ambience and low beams, attentive staff and fine food. We chose ham hock terrine and squid as starters, hake with chorizo and beans, and pork loin with red cabbage and dauphinois potatoes, followed by chocolate torte with frosted raspberries and a cheese board, washed down with a glass of wine. The portions were small (by my standards) but it did mean we could enjoy a three-course meal without having to loosen our belts…
In the morning we indulged in the Full English which was hot, delicious, delivered quickly and enjoyed in an unhurried, Sunday-morning style with plenty of tea!
One thing to note is that the hotel charge you for parking (£5) probably to deter tourists, but I think it would be better served by being included in your package price. That said, this is a tasteful hotel in a fabulous town and would make the ideal base for touring the area or just enjoying the delights of Shakespeare’s birthplace.
Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel
Tel: 0344 879 9138
Why not treat yourself?
The Indulgent Spa Break for Two includes dinner, bed, breakfast plus a 55-minute spa treatment. Starting at £239 per couple www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/offers/the-indulgent-spa-break/