There is more to Stratford than the Bard!

My tempest rose but it was much ado about nothing! Well we are in Stratford after all!

Glynis with the Shakespeare moving statueThe Holiday Inn to be precise.  We visited Stratford on Avon to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and was so pleased we chose the Holiday Inn to have our weekend break. The Holiday Inn has Location, Location,Location!! It is situated ideally in a perfect spot for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the shops, the river access, and the races, yes the Stratford race course is approximately 20 minutes walk away or a 5 minute taxi ride. To access the theatre area it is a short walk across the grassed area in front of the hotel and around the riverside area.  The shopping area is across the road from the riverside, so very easily accessed. The Stratford on Avon station, if coming by train is a 5 minute taxi ride, to the hotel so again an excellent location.

We were greeted at the Holiday Inn by efficient, pleasant staff.  Our room was very comfortable and welcoming, the hotel does have good disabled access and disabled rooms.  One feature I found as an extra, to room service was the use of a vibrating pillow for disabled people in case of fire or any emergency, this is something I haven't come across before and I do feel is a must for all hotels and another plus for the Holiday Inn.  The bar and lounge areas are large and comfortable, and seemed to be an excellent meeting area for race goers.  The car park is largely for guests but the general public can use it at a daily rate, the cost for guests is five pounds per night, which is excellent value, in the centre of Stratford.  The restaurant has a good ambiance and the food was excellent, but the lack of staff was more than evident.  We had to queue 10 minutes at breakfast to be seated.  But as someone said on the way out it is worth waiting for when you get there! – it was. The hotel has a gym and swimming pool,the gym is well equipped but not many people where using it but the swimming pool is small and felt over crowded because of its popularity.

Glynis messing about on the river!The hotel advertises that it has a river side position, it has, but it is the Holiday Inn's river – let me explain, the beautiful grounds have comfortable seating and decking area going dowm to the river, well the River Avon is a little further away, but the clever architect dug a canal so that the river flows into to an off shoot to create a riverside that can accommodate a cruise boat that takes trips up and down the River Avon, from the garden of the hotel.  The cruise takes 45 minutes sightseeing for the cost of  £5.50 per person, definitely worth the trip.

The main attraction to Stratford on Avon is of course the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre which present the best of Shakespeare's plays.  The author of the most quoted lines in the English language, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford and five houses linked to his life form the centrepiece of any visit. Shakespeare's house is in the centre of Stratford and cost £14  for adults and £13 for concession, Shakespeare's wife Anne Hathaway's cottage is just outside Stratford at Shottery.

A walk along the river bank brings you to two very famous land marks in Stratford.  Just past the theatre is the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare and his wife are buried. Then on the way back to the centre there is the world famous Black Swan pub which was christened by the Canadians as the Mucky Duck! A very interesting pub that does good food and fine ales – and of course you never now who you might be sitting next to – could be a famous Shakespearean Actor or Actress, Dame Judi Dench could be a regular!

Cox's Boat Yard - Old Mill with Holiday Inn in the back groundThe River Avon is a big draw to people from all around the country, try a cruise on the river or hire a motor or rowing boat "messing about on the river" is very popular on the Avon, but beware of the swans!  The Paralympic rower James Roe came from the rowing club based at Stratford and won a gold medal to bring home to Stratford.

The "red bus" is a good idea for getting around but in Stratford it is a slow "people watching and sightseeing bus".  Stratford has a quaint old centre with amazing buildings so see them slowly on the open top bus and enjoy the people watching at the same time, the cost of the trip is £9.50, but going through the rather busy roads of Stratford is a slow process. The market place is a place to make for and enjoy the crafts and antiques at your leisure.

Next year is the 449th Anniversary of Shakespeare's birthday on the 20th and 21st of April 2013, when the town takes on a very, very Shakespearean celebration, with actors dressing up as Shakespeare and bands and performances taking part.  If you want atmosphere and history, well, there is certainly more than Shakespeare to draw you to Stratford, and for unrivaled location, location, location visit the Holiday Inn. We will return.

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Glynis Sullivan

Traveller and writer for Silver Travel Advisor

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