I was thrilled when we were invited to experience an overnight stay at beautiful Billesley Manor recently. Not only because it is very close to one of our favourite areas of the country, the Cotswolds, but because it also meant to we got to visit another of the towns ending in cester, Alcester. You can read about that by clicking on the link, but for now what about the Billesley Hotel and Spa?
Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa sits in what was once a bustling village until the plague ripped through it in the fourteenth century. Thankfully there is no sign of that now but what remains is this beautiful old Manor House and the neighbouring church. A church where it is rumoured William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in 1582, though there is no definite proof but there is plenty to suggest it. Such as his granddaughter marrying in the same church, the question being why would she have done that if her grandparents had not done the same.
There is also a suggestion that Shakespeare wrote As You Like It in one of the drawing rooms, now a wonderfully relaxing space where you can play the board games that sit on the windowsill, or challenge a friend to a game of chess.
But enough about the history, what about now? Well this hotel has been thoughtfully modernised and has all the features you would expect of a luxury hotel. A welcoming reception team, lots of comfy seats to relax in with a drink from the bar, huge beds, luxury toiletries in dispensers rather than single use plastic bottles. And the deal breaker for me: USB cables by the bed. On both sides.
They also have tea and coffee making facilities that are not hidden in a cupboard, a fridge, and they are more than happy to provide a jug of cold milk if you cant stomach UHT tea first thing in the morning. Talking of which, breakfast is a triumph. Waiting staff show you to your table, and explain that it is a buffet style breakfast with cereals, pastries and yogurt on one table and a hot selection on another table. They bring you freshly brewed tea and coffee and are more than happy to keep supplying it. The standard of everything on offer was excellent (I think you can tell a lot about a hotel by its breakfast sausage).
The hotel lends itself beautifully to you wanting to kick back, pick up a book and just slump into a comfy chair with a G&T for a few hours. Though if you are feeling slightly more energetic there are stunning grounds to wander around, or of course you could head over to the spa and really kick back.
We didn’t have time to do that sadly which is a shame because all hotel guests are permitted to access the spa and to use the facilities (though you are encouraged to book if you want to experience the ESPA treatments). There’s a variety of different rooms to stay in, from cozy doubles to classic rooms in the barns, to four poster suites and the impressive Manor House suites there is something for every wallet, and there are also some incredible deals on relaxing spa retreat stays.
We did make sure we had time for dinner though. Served in the panelled Stuart Rooms, it is easy to imagine yourself back in the 1600s dining as Shakespeare and Anne may well have done. Bruce had the duck, which was cooked to perfection and my steak was fabulous. It was a good job we didn’t have far to go after we had finished eating as we were both very full! Again the staff were attentive and happy to offer tips on what to choose.
We loved staying here and it was clear from the conversations we overheard at breakfast that the other families staying were of a similar opinion. If you want to stay just outside Stratford upon Avon in a beautiful old building, in grounds that beg to be wandered then this has to be top of your list.
We were kindly invited to stay as guests of the hotel