We take our children to stay at a landmark hotel in the centre of Stratford
What is it
The Grosvenor Hotel is a landmark hotel in Stratford town centre with 76 rooms. It used to be known as the Villare Hotel but now has its original name back.
Where is it?
It’s in the centre of Stratford, a few minutes’ walk from the main attractions.
Our ground floor room had a large bed and a sofa bed, tv, desk and en-suite. It was very hot but a fan was set up ready.
Our room was a good size and simply decorated.
It is family friendly?
There were quite a few families staying here when we visited. There is nothing specific designed for children but the rooms are a reasonable size and it is walking distance into Stratford.
Food and drink
Breakfast was a simple choice of cereals, toast, fruit and hot options like egg, bacon, sausages and tomato. Our children enjoyed having branded cereals they could choose from.
Breakfast at the Grosvenor Hotel
We also had afternoon tea here which included a selection of sandwiches – egg, cheese, coronation chicken and tuna, plus chocolate brownies, lemon cake, strawberries and scones with cream and jam.
Afternoon tea at the Grosvenor Hotel
There is a lounge and bar area which serves discounted drinks during Happy Hour between 9pm and 11pm.
*The hotel’s position is good, it’s a nice walk along the canal to the very centre. Don’t miss the entrance to the canal, which is across the road from the hotel.
*The staff did their best but I felt like more were needed, they were run ragged on reception and at breakfast. The young man who served us afternoon tea did an excellent job and seemed happier than some of the other employees.
The hotel bar
*There is a back entrance from the car park so you don’t need to keep going up and down the front steps.
An outdoor area at the back of the hotel
*As it is a grade two-listed building there is no lift so let the hotel know if you need a downstairs room.
It’s a short walk into Stratford town centre if you cross the road, turn right and take the canal path.
There is loads to do in Stratford – Shakespeare-related attractions such as his birthplace and school, shops, boating on the River Avon, restaurants and cafes and of course theatres. See our top picks here.
Address: Grosvenor Hotel,12-14 Warwick Road, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 6YW.
Parking: There is a car park and it costs £9 per night to park your car. The car park did get full when we visited so arrive early to park and then leave your car to walk into Stratford.
This is the school where William Shakespeare was taught in the 1570s, where he wrote his first works and saw inspiring actors perform plays.
Shakespeare was able to attend this local grammar school as his father was Mayor of Stratford.
The attraction is guide-led and their passion and enthusiasm for the building shines through.
The best bit is where you get to sit in the schoolroom with an actor playing the part of Shakespeare’s teacher Master Thomas Jenkins. We even had a Latin lesson. It is very interactive with adults and children getting involved in the fun. The 20-minute lesson was a real highlight of our visit, especially when our daughter got to play the part of Julius Caesar.
A lesson at Shakespeare’s school
The visit here starts with a guide explaining about the history of the building, visitors watch a short video and then learn about a painting discovered in the Guildhall.
Later, you can dress up in Tudor clothes and learn to write with a quill and ink in a classroom still used by King Edward VI School in Stratford.
Writing with a quill
Time taken: One to two hours.
Address: Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6HB.
New Place, built in the 1480s, was William Shakespeare’s home from 1597 until he died there in 1616.
At the time it was also known as the Great House as it was the largest in Stratford and the only one with a courtyard.
Sadly, the medieval house was demolished in 1759, today you will find a museum there and an Elizabethan garden.
The gardens at Shakespeare’s New Place
The museum has a nice introductory animated video about Shakespeare and his return to Stratford which was interesting.
However the gardens are definitely the best part of New Place, they are beautiful with space to run around and lots of statues and information boards for children to learn about Shakespeare and his plays.
Time taken: Around 45 minutes with children
Address: Shakespeare’s New Place, 22 Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6EP.
We try out a city centre hotel in Stratford close to its top family attractions
Hotel Indigo Stratford upon Avon.
Where is it
It is in a great location in the centre of Stratford, opposite two tourist attractions – Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Shakespeare’s New Place.
What is it
It’s a boutique hotel with 93 rooms in a stunning building made up of a Georgian townhouse, a 16th century building and a modern wing.
Is it family friendly?
Our children really enjoyed our stay but we didn’t see any others during the trip – this classy hotel seems more aimed at couples, friends and older families.
Inside the hotel
However, staff couldn’t have been nicer.
Our suite was in the Tudor section of the hotel and was a heady mix of modern comforts and 16th century character.
The main bedroom in our suite
The fun layout was made up of two rooms with a Jack and Jill bathroom in between and a wide, furnished corridor which also links the two.
The main bedroom had a big comfy bed and the second room had a sofa bed which the children loved.
The second room
The decor was modern and quirky. There are plenty of nods to Shakespeare with paintings of characters from his plays on the walls. Our children enjoyed discovering which plays the characters were from.
Further rooms are in the Georgian townhouse section and the contemporary wing. There are rooms suitable for families in all three areas of the hotel depending on if you want traditional Tudor or a more modern-style room.
Food and drink
Breakfast was served in the ‘Feasting Room’ and included a good continental spread of cereals, pastries, toast, hams, cheeses and extras like carrot muffins.
Breakfast at Hotel Indigo
Hot food to order such as a cooked breakfast, French toast with fruit and honey or egg, hash brown and spinach on a brioche bun, was delicious.
You can book a table to eat dinner in the upscale, on-site restaurant The Woodsman, which serves a changing menu made up of farm-to-table dishes like deer, boar, beef and lamb.
The chefs cook in an open kitchen, using a wood fired oven and charcoal grill.
It is quality over quantity – there were five main course options when we ate there including cod and a vegetarian mushroom option. My pork was melt-in-the-mouth delicious with a side dish of crunchy potatoes.
This is not the restaurant for you if you are after very simple food or pub favourites, but we really enjoyed the tasty fare and the desserts were equally delicious and well presented.
There was no printed children’s menu, but they offered to make a smaller version of any of the main meals or serve sausage and mash, chicken or fish goujons and chips.
Chicken goujons for the children
*The snacks in the hotel room like popcorn and crisps, are complimentary.
*The fun layout of our room.
*The great central location – we could just leave our car here and explore the town, without having to worry about finding somewhere to park in Stratford.
There is a gym/fitness room, bar, nice little seating areas dotted around and also a pretty little garden with tables to sit at.
Opposite is Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall. This is where William Shakespeare went to school and has guides showing you around the different sections who are passionate about the site and its history.
Also opposite is Shakespeare’s New Place – the site and gardens that housed his home for 19 years.
Plus, there are other interesting places to see nearby, boat trips on the River Avon, shows at the Royal Shakespeare Society and dozens of places to eat and drink on the doorstep.
Read our full, detailed round-up of the best places to visit in Stratford.
The hotel entrance at the back of the building
Address: Hotel Indigo, Chapel Street, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HA.
Parking: There is a small car park which costs £10 per car per night. It can not be booked in advance and is first come, first served.
We stay at the magnificent Mallory Court Hotel in Leamington Spa
Could there be a warmer welcome than the one we received at the glorious Mallory Court Country Hotel and Spa in Warwickshire.
This stunning venue is everything a hotel should be – a luxurious home from home, exquisite food, wonderful staff and beautiful gardens – take a look at our exclusive video tour below.
We were thoroughly spoilt here and loved every second.
Mallory Court Country House Hotel and Spa.
Where is it?
Between Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.
What is it?
This beautiful country house hotel and award-winning restaurant is set in 10 acres of gorgeous gardens.
Mallory Court Hotel
It also has a spa, function suite and civil license. Plus, some of the rooms are dog-friendly.
It’s privately owned by the Eden Hotel Collection and is one of the most prestigious hotels in the county.
Is it family friendly?
Yes, our two loved it here and made the most of the grounds, exploring every lovely section.
The hotel’s main market is for adults who enjoy fine-dining and luxury but there is still a very relaxed vibe.
Our suite was fabulous for them – they had their own room, sofas and bathroom. They were even given a mini-welcome pack on their beds including a mini-bathrobe, slippers and a soft toy.
The ability to swim and play tennis or croquet, plus use the gardens to burn off energy is another plus.
There are other family rooms in the hotel plus standard rooms can take an extra foldaway bed or cot. Children are £25 per night including breakfast. Cots are £15.
There are 43 luxurious bedrooms.
We stayed in the Blenheim Suite, a very spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom area with its own private corridor. In both rooms there are desks/dressing tables, televisions, coffee machines, lots of storage and plenty of places to sit and relax.
One of the bedrooms in our suite
It really was so easy to unwind here, there is everything you could need including toiletries, drinks and snacks.
Relaxing in their bedroom in the Blenheim Suite
The main bathroom even has two baths as well as a shower.
Food and drink
There are two options for dinner – we ate in The Dining Room. This restaurant offers fine dining at its best and has three AA rosettes.
The dining room
We enjoyed a five-course tasting menu, which was absolutely delicious including a choice of two main courses of lamb or plaice.
They use organically grown, seasonal produce from the hotel’s kitchen gardens to keep the menus fresh.
For children, they can make separate dishes such as sausages, chicken or pasta. Their children’s desserts included a heavenly sticky toffee pudding.
There is another restaurant called the Brasserie in the spa building where they do a £12.50 three-course dinner for children.
The breakfast is of a high quality – there is continental or cooked – both are served to the table by the attentive staff. They didn’t even act surprised when my daughter asked for three different types of cereal at once.
*The swimming pool is lovely and warm and a nice size to enjoy a family swim. It’s located in the spa in the grounds.
The swimming pool in the spa area
*The grounds are stunning – there is even a huge croquet pitch and equipment to play as well as a tennis court.
In the grounds
*Enjoying a drink on the terrace in the sunshine before going inside to eat.
*The welcoming staff throughout the hotel – on reception, at dinner and at breakfast they were so lovely and interested in how the children were enjoying the stay.
*Swimming costs extra, it is not included and is pricey at £15 per adult and £7.50 per child for one hour. Children under four can’t use the pool and family access is at set hours and needs to be booked.
*Car parking is free and there are plenty of spaces.
*Dogs are welcome at the hotel but check in advance to see if there is a dog friendly room available. We saw several dogs during our stay enjoying the grounds!
All you need to know about popular Warwick Castle – the perfect family attraction
What is it?
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle, originally built by William the Conqueror as a wooden fort in 1068, and rebuilt in stone in the 12th century.
This historical tourist experience is hugely popular and attracts visitors from all over the world – we heard plenty of American accents on our visit.
Inside the castle
There is lots of to see and do plus there are live shows and experiences during the year including large arena jousting performances and the UK’s biggest birds of prey show, to help bring the castle alive for visitors.
Where is it?
It is unsurprisingly in the town of Warwick in Warwickshire on the River Avon, less than two miles from junction 15 of the M40.
*A fantastic show, the Falconer’s Quest – an outdoor bird show, made into a story.
There are a few rows of benches, but hundreds of other people sat around on the grass and on picnic blankets nearby to watch and had just as good an experience.
*The Horrible Histories Maze, where children can get a little book stamped at various stages.
*Archery and jousting lessons with enthusiastic staff dressed in medieval outfits.
Archery lessons at Warwick Castle
*Interactive storytime in the Princess Castle.
*For younger children, there are attractions based around the Julia Donaldson character Zog, including a great outdoor play area.
Zog play area
Warwick Castle Top Tips
*The Castle Dungeon is a 50-minute walk with live actors and special effects but is scary and so for over-tens only. You have to pay extra for this attraction, it isn’t included in the entry price.
*Get there early – we arrived about 9.30am for a 10am opening which meant we were at the front of the car park – although it was still a bit of a trek – and one of the first through the doors.
*Pay for your car park at the start – about 50 yards before the entrance on the right – there can be queues if you leave it to the end and it’s a set price (£6) anyway.
*If you want to extend your stay, you can sleep over at Warwick Castle in the Knight’s Village. There are 24 standard Woodland Lodges which sleep up to five and four Knight’s Lodges which are bigger and sleep up to seven people.
*There are tours running every half an hour covering different areas of the castle and its history. We joined a 30-minute tour which explained the 1,000 year story of the castle with an enthusiastic guide. It was well explained to suit children and gives you a good grounding for your day at the castle.
*You can scale the towers and ramparts but be aware this is a one-way trip and there are a lot of spiral stairs to climb that will tire out little legs (and big ones). But there’s a great view from the top.
*We used a Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass which gives you entry to 10 top attractions across Warwickshire including Warwick Castle, Avon Boating and Stratford Butterfly Farm.
View from the top
There are plenty of food and drink options but it isn’t cheap. There was a pizza van making fresh pizzas (£11.90 for a basic Margherita), along with a fish and chip stall, ice cream vans and drinks outlets.
Lots of people brought their own picnics and there are plenty of lovely places to eat on the lawns and loads of benches to sit at.