Last Updated on July 17, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
A new place opens alongside Shakespeare’s New Place!
Themed destination hotels have come a long way. On a business trip, I once refused to spend the night in a Wild West-themed bedroom complete with covered wagon, only to find myself upgraded to “Ali Baba’s Cave” and sleeping in Scheherazade’s bower! At the newly opened Hotel Indigo in the heart of William Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avon, however, you’ll enter a stylish world where clever architects and gifted interior designers have created a boutique city hotel offering a definite sense of place in a venue which beautifully reflects the locality and complements its surroundings.
Although an international chain, no two Hotel Indigo properties are the same. Always located in culturally thriving locations, you are guaranteed the facilities and service levels you would expect from a four-star hotel, but each property has been individually styled to connect to the spirit of its locality.
Hotel Indigo Stratford brings together three distinct spaces: a genuine 500-year old building; the Georgian town-house next door and a well-planned contemporary space, to create a hotel with heritage whilst guaranteeing the best of modern comfort. The original aged architecture is enhanced and complemented by the use of a vibrant colour palette and modern fabrics and fittings.
Guests can choose from ninety-three bedrooms, all designed to reflect the historic town outside whether in the elegant contemporary wing; the plush, cosy rooms in the Georgian townhouse (including a garden room) or in the original 16th century Tudor wing complete with views of Shakespeare’s New Place, his home in later life. With Hypnos beds, spa-inspired bathrooms, Nespresso coffee machines, a 40-inch TV and free wi-fi, guests are promised a luxurious and comfortable night’s sleep (especially if they’ve tried out some of the smart machines in the spacious gym).
The property is grouped around a large interior courtyard garden which, on a sunny, summer day offers a little piece of paradise. The garden is an unusual feature for a city-centre hotel and it’s one that is used to great effect here. With a nod to Elizabethan knot gardens (as found across the street at New Place), the beds are packed with colourful flowers and scented herbs – the waft of newly clipped spearmint is a feast for the senses! In summer the courtyard tables are laid for lunch and dinner extending the hotel’s Woodsman Restaurant into the outdoors.
The restaurant is destined to become a destination in its own right as it’s led by Executive Chef Mike Robinson, a champion of British produce and sustainable wild food, and co-owner of the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms in London. The restaurant focuses on seasonal ingredients and locally-sourced produce. This is a claim you’ll find on many menus, but at the Woodsman, the proof is literally “hung” before your eyes in smart glass refrigerated cabinets.
Prime venison carcasses from locally managed estates and old breed beef, lamb and pork from local farms are brought to the restaurant where they are butchered and aged in the Woodsman’s butchery. With fish sourced from leading Cornish fisheries, the very best Evesham vegetables and wild herbs from the kitchen garden to compliment the dishes, choosing from the menu creates something of a desirable dilemma!
With a night at the nearby theatre yet to come I opted for the lightest dishes: beautifully presented marinated Isle of Wight tomatoes, burrata, garden herbs and sourdough crumb; followed by a whole Brixham plaice with mussels and seaweed sauce. Fantastic!
Living vicariously, I was able to enjoy my fellow diner’s amazing potato and egg yolk ravioli, with truffle and Parmesan cream and his pavé of 40-day aged Hereford rump with braised faggot accompanied by the Woodsman’s soon to be legendary dirty mash (50% mashed potato, 50% butter, breadcrumbs, venison chunks and gravy)!
The focal point of the restaurant is the large wood-fired oven and charcoal grill. With seats ranged around it, diners are encouraged to engage with chefs while they cook. In fact, all the serving team were knowledgeable, helpful and engaging, eager to hear views on how the food met expectations.
When a hotel positions itself as offering a great food experience I’m always curious to see how breakfast, so often the poor relation, measures up. The answer here was extremely well. “Ham & Eggs” featured smoked fallow deer ham and the richest of yellow-yolked eggs from a local Cotswold’s’ farm. Eggs Benedict will never be the same for me again!
Manx kippers are offered alongside, soft and delicate, cured chalk stream trout. The heavy oak breakfast table heaved with all your breakfast heart’s desires, from cured fish, smoked salmon bagels and fresh, fresh pastries, through to homemade granola, bircher muesli, yoghurts, cheese and seeds. A breakfast worth making time to enjoy.
Breakfast is served in the Feasting Room, complete with tapestry curtains and grand oak table, one of the many multi-purpose spaces in the hotel. Tucked around corners you’ll find snugs, private dining rooms, a cocktail bar and a wood-panelled lounge serving a perfect Afternoon Tea. Comfortable areas where you can relax and enjoy the carefully curated selection of contemporary artwork, murals and 3D artefacts inspired by Shakespeare.
With the Hotel Indigo positioned right five minutes’ walk from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatres, across the road from the site of Shakespeare’s home, the historic Guildhall Chapel where his daughter was married AND his schoolroom, this is a new place which, once visited, is likely to become a familiar place for many.
Jenny was a guest of the Hotel Indigo Stratford upon Avon located at 4 Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6HA
She dined at The Woodsman Restaurant located at 4 Chapel Street.
For information on what to do and see in Stratford-upon-Avon visit Shakespeare’s England and do read about our previous trips to Stratford to visit Mary Arden’s House and to learn more about what to do on a short break to Stratford.