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Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

18/01/2023 by .
Billesley Manor Hotel

Michael Edwards says Shakespeare visited in 1599. What would he make of Billesley Manor Hotel now?

Legend has it that Shakespeare visited Billesley Manor in 1599. What would he have done at Billesley Manor in the days before it became a hotel? Before there was a spa with treatment rooms, indoor pool, gym and exercise/yoga studio? Before there were elaborate topiary gardens to stroll around. The answer, if history is to be believed, is that after Shakespeare’s visit, he was inspired to write As You Like It: the sunny feel-good romcom.

Today, Billesley Manor Hotel pays tribute to Shakespeare’s creativity with the As You Like It lounge. Inspiring interior design, Mary Poppins style, has books appearing to fly off the shelves before adhering to the ceiling. More conventionally, the walls feature prints of scenes from productions of As You Like It.

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Though, a bold straight drive, heading confidently to the elegant building, hides historical woes. A map provides an insight into the village of Billesley. After the Black Death wiped out the population, the wooden houses decayed over the ensuing centuries. The stone-built 11th-century church remained, still open to visitors, where some say that Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway.

As the 17th century dawned, Shakespeare’s world was changing. James 1 succeeded Elizabeth 1. And whilst Shakespeare was writing the final scenes of Othello, the old wooden Billesley Manor House was pulled down and replaced with a stone-built house that would provide the heart of today’s elegant facade.


Just five miles north-west of Stratford-upon-Avon, the house really is in Shakespeare territory. On their way into Stratford, guests pass Mary Arden’s farm where Shakespeare’s father grew up and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage too.

Shakespeare would be both impressed and bewildered by Billesley Manor Hotel’s decor. The splendour of the hotel’s four-poster bed bridal suite contrasts sharply with his parent’s cramped, dark, and dingy bedroom on display at Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Dark wood panels, dating from the 17th century, and heraldic crests would impress The Bard. And surely, he would be flattered by the display of gins bottled by the nearby Shakespeare Distillery and would have enjoyed a tour.

Billesley Manor Hotel

Wood panels flowing into the Stuart Restaurant would be a familiar grandiose setting for high-flying Shakespeare. Even though chicken, duck and lamb would have been frequent visitors on a Jacobean dinner table, there is a lighter touch to the contemporary menu. Vegetarian options may have bewildered Shakespeare. What would he have made of scorched pumpkin and truffle emulsion for a starter? Or truffle and butternut squash risotto for the main event? And it is doubtful that Macbeth served a wild mushroom pithivier, with tarragon cream and a panache of vegetables, at the banquet interrupted by Banquo’s ghost.

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Shakespeare might also have needed a pensive soliloquy to come to terms with the artwork. Yes, there are the stern, sombre portraits of long-gone ancestors that you would expect. They are splashed with bright primary colour splodges as if a paint-mixing machine has thrown a tantrum.

Having grown up with a pottery bowl as a bathroom, Shakespeare might pen a sonnet in praise of bright and spacious bathrooms featuring both rainfall shower and large, deep baths.

A trip into Stratford and a visit to Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and the Guild Hall gives an insight into the circumstances and world that helped shape Shakespeare’s talent. Playing the role of a Jacobean schoolmaster, responsible for one class of 50 to 60 boys aged between 7 – 14, an actor talks us through a school day which began at 6 am and finished at 5 pm, for six days a week.

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Importantly for Shakespeare’s development, alongside a syllabus of studying the bible and the classics, during his seven school years, a dozen roving troupes of players visited the Guild Hall to perform plays.

Though the question remains, what would Shakespeare have made of Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa? Would he have relaxed over afternoon tea? Or would today’s 71-room luxury hotel, sat on eleven serene acres, have inspired another romcom?

Tell Me More About Billesley Manor Hotel And Spa

Billesley Manor Hotel,  Billesley, Alcester,Warwickshire B49 6NF

T: 01789 279955 E:

Rates at Billesley Manor Hotel start from £139 per night for Bed and Breakfast based on two people sharing.


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