My husband and I were lucky enough to be invited to Billesley Manor Hotel recently to relax and enjoy a spot of pampering! Billesley Manor is a quaint country house located only 3 miles away from the hustle and bustle of Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avon. The stunning 16th century property is set in 11 acres of manicured gardens and oozes history and character.

As you wander around the beautiful 100 year old Topiary Gardens you can just picture William Shakespeare, a frequent visitor to the hotel back in the day, getting inspired for his poetry and play writing. Rumour has it he actually wrote ‘As You Like It’ in Billesley Manor’s Library!

The picturesque 4 star country house manor, which is part of The Hotel Collection, has 72 bedrooms, an AA rosette restaurant, health club with swimming pool, beauty rooms and conference facilities.

So now to tell you about our wonderful visit…

On arrival we were greeted by a warm and helpful receptionist who kindly upgraded us to the Shakespeare Suite, a beautiful oak panelled bedroom located on the first floor. The vast room, which featured an old-style four poster bed, was filled with tasteful antique furniture and had incredible sloping floors.  A huge fireplace with an original priest hole took up much of the length of one of the walls. The bathroom was also absolutely enormous and featured an ornate fireplace.  Along with fluffy robes and slippers, there was a range of luxury toiletries from Gilchrist & Soames to use.

As it was a sunny spring afternoon we decided to sit outside on the terrace enjoying a chilled tipple. After the pressures of work it was lovely to relax and take in the views across the listed topiary gardens, tennis courts and water feature.  New born lambs were playing in the fields and we watched a heron land in the water. We saw a couple next to us sipping Champagne whilst enjoying Afternoon Tea – maybe on our next visit, it looked delicious! But we were saving our appetite for the evening…

We dined in the AA Rosette Stuart Restaurant that looks out across the gardens. As we absorbed our stunning surroundings, we perused an equally as stunning menu! It boasts so many local and seasonal ingredients that to make a decision was rather tricky but we managed it and enjoyed some warmed freshly baked bread while we awaited our culinary experience.

Next our exquisite starters appeared; I had goat’s cheese parfait which was presented in swirled cones and my husband enjoyed a delicious duck egg dish that had been slowly cooked for 63 minutes at 63 degrees! How innovative! My main course was a gorgeous, perfectly cooked sea trout which was served alongside some seasonal vegetables and a delectable sauce vierge.  My husband went for his usual favourite, pork belly with a complimentary garnish of black pudding and apple textures.

After all of that, we even managed to squeeze in a dessert, or as Billesley Manor call it, The Encore! With the flavours being so prominent in the dishes we went for a classic crème brûlée and we were certainly not disappointed!  My husband opted for the cheese course, and unusually even got to select which cheese he wanted from the ‘Cheese Menu’. All the dishes were a perfect match to the quality of this fine hotel.

After a recharging and most definitely comfortable night’s sleep we were awoken to the sound of swallows chirping outside as they nestled in the countryside. We started our day as we were to continue it, with a leisurely and fulfilling breakfast. There was so much choice from cereals and fruits to freshly baked pastries and croissants as well as a meat and cheese selection – we were truly spoilt for choice! Luckily we didn’t have to choose and managed to indulge ourselves in all our favourites including the traditional Full English Breakfast.

Whilst Billesley Manor is full of character in its structure and beautiful features across the estate, the most characteristic part of the manor are the team. They are so pro-active, friendly and attentive.

This charming country house manor house is the perfect haven for escaping and relaxing in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside. It also makes an excellent base if you want to combine a break with visiting Stratford-upon-Avon and the wider area of Shakespeare’s England. Room rates at the hotel start from £120. For more information see http://shakespeares-england.co.uk/billesley-manor-hotel

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