Entertainment A review of 'time tunnel' Hotel Indigo in Stratford-upon-Avon
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Even if you’ve never been to Stratford-upon-Avon, the chances are you know the sights: William Shakespeare’s birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. All of which leaves a dilemma: how do you visit a historic town without feeling as if you’re on a school trip? How do you uncover its quirky, more contemporary charms too?
Hotel Indigo tackles these very questions with a series of fun clues and tips introducing guests to the local neighbourhood. And what a neighbourhood it is. Magnificent black-and-white half-timbered Tudor buildings stretch like a grand-piano keyboard the length of historic Chapel Street, and none is more impressive than the hotel itself.
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Formerly one of Stratford’s oldest pubs, the 16th Century Falcon Inn, the 93-room boutique hotel opened last year after a sensitive multi-million-pound refurbishment, including the timbered exterior and mosaic of leaded windows being lovingly restored by McCurdy & Co (the team behind London’s Globe Theatre).
Inside is a time tunnel of period features. Step through its beamed Tudor entrance on to an original 500-year-old flagstone floor, and pass a cocktail bar and cosy sofa-strewn snug, walls lined with wooden panels salvaged from Shakespeare’s final home (the New Place) across the road.
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The original Tudor building (with small but characterful bedrooms above) leads into the belly of the hotel: a fine 18th Century Georgian addition, featuring the award-winning Woodsman restaurant and a bar with glass sides opening on to a huge terraced garden with a grill overseen by Michelin-starred chef Mike Robinson. There are also two decadent private dining rooms (all original beams, wall-mounted antlers and statement chandeliers), where guests are served seasonal dishes paired with wines.
If you’re in need of a different sort of refreshment, head – as we did – to Shakespeare Distillery, and sample its award-winning gin. Because as they say, all’s Will that ends well.
The USP: A stunning 500-year-old listed building on Shakespeare’s Historic Spine, Hotel Indigo is a short walk from key sights including Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage reopen Aug 1. The RSC Theatre is closed, though the cafe is open for takeaway.
The rooms: Three hotels in one: choose from Tudor, Georgian or modern bedrooms, all stuffed with Nespresso machines and comfy beds big enough to stage a production of Hamlet.
The food: Specialising in nose-to-tail cuisine (my husband loved the deer pavé with smoked marrowbone) but plenty of fish (grilled halibut with yellow chanterelles was delicious) and veggie options, The Woodsman won Best New UK Restaurant in the 2020 Good Food Guide. Open Wednesday to Sunday – book in advance.
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