I always like to do a spot of research prior to visiting a hotel however nothing could prepare us for the grandeur of Billesley Manor Hotel. Easily found, however beautifully hidden, it was a most pleasant surprise when our sat nav delivered us to this breathtaking 16th century Elizabethan manor. You’ll find numerous pictures of the hotel online however none will do it justice and a visit must be one for your ‘To Do’ list.
Parking spaces were plentiful and parking for those with disabilities and for unloading were directly outside the main entrance. There were a couple of shallow steps to the main door and no ramp, however an alternative entrance may have been available. We were greeted at reception where we had the usual information card to complete before being directed to our room. It was a pleasant surprise to have my correct dinner reservation time confirmed on arrival. We were provided with a map of the ground floor (which proved to be invaluable) and a brief history of the hotel.
We very quickly assumed the roles of VIPs once we’d opened the door to room 4 (Honeymoon Suite). Known as the Shakespeare Room we instantly felt as though we had entered a different time zone, the Tudor period was instantly apparent and I wanted to phone for room service and ask them to bring me a period costume so that I could savour my short stay in this fine suite. I lay on the four poster bed, draped myself over the chaise lounge and finally came to rest on the large sofa. There was so much to take in that I hadn’t noticed the desperation on my husband’s face as he tried in vain to locate a bathroom. Maybe this was the surprise that had been mentioned to us! Determined not to make fools of ourselves I joined in with the hunt for the latrine. The dark interior woodwork made this more of a challenge and we began to open every obvious door and pat every reachable surface until finally we fell into the vast bathroom. With its own fireplace, armchair, his and her sinks, spacious bath and toilet (lost and lonely in the corner) this room deserved a name of its own. A plentiful supply of fluffy white towels and quality toiletries made for the perfect en-suite. After further exploration I discovered bathrobes and slippers, a selection of tea and coffee, magazines and a complimentary bottle of champagne with chocolates. Heaven, if only for one night.
Before kicking off our shoes we took our map in hand and located the Club Bar, Stuart Restaurant, the Rose Garden and The Spa & Health Club. On arrival at the Spa Reception we were instantly welcomed and a member of the team proudly informed us of the facilities on offer, he also ensured that we were aware of the limited availability for treatments in the beauty rooms over the weekend. I hadn’t booked us in for any pampering however I’m well aware that booking in advance is always advised to avoid disappointment. It was good to know that there were a couple of spare slots available if we decided to treat ourselves. It’s also worth noting that peak prices are charged from 2pm Friday to 11am Sunday (inclusive). A price list was available in our room and I’d seen it online too.
We wound our way back to our room after taking a few wrong turns whilst at the same time marvelling at the numerous corridors and staircases. Visitors with limited mobility may wish to request rooms near to Reception or on the ground floor if these are available. The hotel web site states that ‘Billesley Manor Hotel is a listed building and unfortunately the majority of rooms are accessible via steps only as there is no lift’. We decided to eat later and changed the time of our dinner reservation, the reception team were happy to accommodate us even though there was a little ‘juggling’ to do. Before preparing for dinner I spent some time reading letters and cards left by the many guests who have stayed in the Shakespeare Room. These can be found in a hidden compartment in the room. My husband like many before him spent some time looking in our room for the priest hole and secret passageway but was unsuccessful. The notes proved that many guests have enjoyed a very memorable night or two at Billesley Manor and visitors often return to celebrate special occasions.
Our evening meal was enjoyed in the splendid 2 AA Rosette awarded Stuart Restaurant which has also been praised by Egon Ronay. Surrounded by beautiful floor-to-ceiling wood panelling we savoured the relaxed ambience created by the staff. It is always pleasing to dine in a busy restaurant and although the three courses were served over a period of two hours we preferred this to a hurried service. The menu was varied and our food was excellent. It was a welcome change to be able to purchase a bottle of wine from the list for around £20. Smart casual dress was requested in the restaurant.
The four poster was a 4’6” bed with luxurious bedding. We woke refreshed and ready for our breakfast which could be taken 7.30am – 10.30am at weekends and Bank Holidays. The breakfast tables were again adorned with crisp white tablecloths and an array of hot and cold food and juices were laid out in an adjacent room. After a very leisurely meal we reluctantly gathered our belongings and checked out. There was no card fee when paying for extras by credit card. The Receptionist was pleased to hear that we had been delighted with our stay. We had been treated exceptionally well at this historical retreat in the medieval village of Billesley. The festive season brochure is already enticing us to return before the end of the year. I wholeheartedly agree ‘What makes the Puma Hotels’ Collection different is that they are – well, different”.
Billesley Manor Hotel
Nr Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
• Read more about Billesley village