The Arden Hotel
Where: Stratford-Upon-Avon, England
Long story short: About as close to the stage door as you can go without actually joining the cast.
Short story long: I am One Of Those People who love William Shakespeare. Love him. Can’t get enough of him. Seen the plays, got the films, got a teatowel (I really have). I am One Of Those People who has a handy Shakespeare quote for every (well, a couple) occasion. In short, a trip to Stratford renders me practically Japanese (is that racist?). “That’s where he was BORN!” I purr, stroking the bars of the gate outside his house, despite the fact that that is literally more or less all anyone knows about Shakespeare and even that’s probably not even true.
Anyway, when I realised that the Arden is not only “very close to” the RSC theatre but I could have almost leaned out of my window and touched David Tennant (if he’d been there) on his Yorick, I squeaked and gibbered in the Stratford streets.
The very first thing you notice on entrance to this lovely little (45-bedroom) hotel is the overpowering scent. I loved it, it somehow smelt of lilies and asparagus all at once and made me simultaneously hungry and in need of a bubble bath. Luckily my bathroom was large and luxurious enough for me to do this almost as soon as I arrived, with the classy Orla Kiely toiletries. My bed was a veritable Bed of Ware (told you) and I could have fitted me and the cast of Love’s Labour’s Lost (which was showing at the time of my visit), so long as they were around five foot tall, which luckily, I am. The coffee maker, a Nespresso (thank God hotels are now doing this) was functional and much-needed the following morning after a slightly flaily night’s sleep.
The sleep was sort of disturbed by a gentle (but annoying) boom-boom coming through the air-conditioning vent. Unsure whether it was coming from someone else’s room or somewhere public, I sauntered down to reception to tentatively enquire. I was told, very quickly, that whatever it was it would be sorted. I tried to backtrack, afeared I might upset a Laertes type next door and awake to find a poisoned sword in my side, but she wouldn’t have it and with a “it’s done, (it was coming from the café downstairs) a minute later it was gone.
The sleep was further disturbed by the amazing play which had preceded it and which was resounding around my brain, so not really the hotel’s fault, though I entirely blame the (light and airy) hotel bistro for all the bread it made me eat at dinner. And the Prosecco that came with it. Twice.
One minor irritation (though it pains me to say) was the door. Three times I tried to get back in my room and three times (nothing to do with the Prosecco) I failed and had to ask for help from reception, which they cheerfully gave. Apparently the locks had been changed recently and were a bit stiff so there was a knack to it. Tiresome but not a deal-breaker.
I had people to see and places to be in the morning so I opted for a dishevelled in-room fried breakfast, which arrived on time and with a compliment on my perfume from the good wench (it’s Shakespeare so it’s ok) who delivered it. My requested pot of mustard was the size of a saucer and made me giggle so much I forgot to try it but the coffee was good and strong and the toast buttery and plentiful.
In short, I WANTED TO STAY THERE FOREVER AND EVER AND CRIED A BIT WHEN I LEFT.
Champagne tastes: Feature Room from £365.00-£415.00 per room per night inclusive of bed and breakfast.
Shandy pockets: Classic from £150.00-£200.00 per room per night inclusive of bed and breakfast.
Review by Hazel Davis
The Arden Hotel: