Inside: Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa, Stratford Upon Avon


ForbesLifestyleTravelInside: Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa, Stratford Upon AvonLewis NunnContributorOpinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.Forbes’ contributor for luxury travel and cruises.FollowingClick to save this article.You’ll be asked to sign into your Forbes account.Got itJan 22, 2024,06:27pm EST

Nestled in the homeland of William Shakespeare, Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa is a 16th-century quintessentially British country house hotel just five miles north of Stratford upon Avon.

Set on a sprawling 11-acre estate with an ornate topiary garden in the style of a chessboard, it is the famous site where Shakespeare allegedly penned As You Like It in 1599, and legend has it, he spent many a night here with his lover Anne Hathaway, too.


From the time of the Norman Conquest, the manor house at Billesley belonged to the family of Sir William Trussell, a parliamentarian who deposed King Edward II in 1327.

Later in 1588, Thomas Trussell, head of the family, was sentenced to death for a highway robbery in Kent. Fortunately, he escaped execution, but his estate was forfeited to Queen Elizabeth I, so the manor house became the property of the Crown until it ended up in the hands of Sir Robert Lee, Lord Mayor of London.


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In 1689, Billesley was then sold to Bernard Whalley, Esquire of Warwickshire, before it was taken ownership by Thomas Sherlock in 1721, who became the Bishop of Salisbury.

By 1906, when the manor was sold to Algernon Henry Charles Hanbury-Tracy, son of 4th Baron Sudeley, it needed major repairs. So Billesley underwent a huge renovation under the fashionable architect Detmar Jellings Blow, with a new east wing, oak paneling, and the topiary garden of yew that we can see today.


Decorated with original Tudor paneling, Manor House Four Poster Suites overlook the main lawn and fountain, spacious and classical, where dark oak meets bright splashes of orange, adorned with plush mustard velvet armchairs, a writing desk with a makeup vanity mirror, an open roaring fireplace, a four-poster bed dominating the room with a Hypnos Landsdowne cashmere mattress and pillow menu, and an old-age iron door latch connecting you to a low-ceiling bathroom with a rain shower, deep soaking tub, and waffle cotton bathrobes and slippers.

You’ll also find a double wardrobe, a mini-fridge, and Molton Brown luxury bathroom products.

The Spa

Billesley Spa is partnered with luxury skincare brand ESPA, offering natural facelifts using cutting-edge pre and probiotic technology, intense exfoliating salt & oil scrubs to revive the skin’s natural softness, and deep cleansing facials using Tri-ActiveTM formulas to purify and reawaken your skin while aromatherapeutic oils relax your mind.

Or indulge in a 70-minute hot stone massage to unravel persistent muscular tightness and discomfort.

You can also make use of the sauna, steam room, well-equipped gym, yoga studio, tennis courts, and a 12-metre indoor pool surrounded by comfy grey cushioned loungers.

The Stuart Restaurant

Gleaming rich oak-paneled walls, period open fireplaces, and unusual caricature paintings, such as a young Queen Elizabeth I blowing bubblegum, mark the surroundings of The Stuart Restaurant, bursting with Elizabethan charm. In a nod to the famous Stratford upon Avon playwright, its menu takes the form of Act 1, Act 2, and Curtain Call, serving up modern British cuisine.

Graze on beef tartare with pickled mushroom, soy egg emulsion, and nasturtium or curry-cured salmon complimented with mango chutney, compressed cucumber, and caviar — before feasting on slow-cooked pork belly, venison, or butternut squash and spinach pithivier; completed with blackberry parfait or treacle caramelized pineapple terrine with mango salsa and coconut ice cream.

You’ll also find a fine collection of curated wines to pair your dishes with, largely from small production sustainable vineyards.

Check out my website or some of my other work here. Lewis Nunn

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