In Shakespeare’s day Stratford-upon-Avon was a thriving market town and his father was a market trader making and selling gloves. Today it’s still a beautiful Tudor town perched on the edge of the Cotswolds with wonderful cafes, pubs, restaurants, hotels and of course famous theatres.
You can’t visit Stratford without following the Shakespeare connection – where the town’s most famous son was born, where he’s buried, an empty space where he lived in later life and the beautiful Anne Hathaway cottage. But nearly everything you hear about Shakespeare will be speculation because virtually nothing is really known about any aspect of his life.
All we know for certain about Shakespeare are his plays and sonnets, they are the only definite evidence about his life (although even the authenticity of these are questioned by some) so any visitor should really stop off at the splendidly revamped Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Swan theatres. As well as Shakespeare, they perform work by his contemporaries, other classics as well as some modern works.
Even if you don’t enjoy the theatre the RSC is still well worth visiting for its riverside terrace, rooftop restaurant, viewing tower or just letting the kids (or childish adults) play in the dressing up box in the foyer.
The Arden is hotel is the RSC’s recommended hotel, perfectly located directly opposite the theatres and the River Avon. It's an elegant and sophisticated 45-bedroom boutique hotel and its recent multi-million pound refurbishment has made it smart and slick in every detail. Its Waterside Brasserie is not only a popular place for evening dining but breakfast is freshly cooked and served to order – no stewed buffet offerings here.
The Arden is also a popular pre and post theatre dining venue and because it’s so close, some theatre goers order interval drinks and nip back across the road to avoid the theatre queues – how cheeky, or smart, is that?