Category: Travel

Stratford Upon Avon - Shakespears homeThe Olympics are nearly over but if you’re looking for a chance to escape the last minute rush or indeed just to get out of the city after the craziness that has been the last few weeks then we suggest heading to Stratford Upon Avon.

Just under two hours outside of London (leaving from Marylebone) Startford Upon Avon is the perfect visiting place for anyone who wants to get out of London but doesn’t want to have to travel for hours and hours just to feel like they’re getting a break from the Big Smoke.

The city is of course best known as being the home of none other than Shakespeare but it also has mile and miles of green space, a beautiful river, several riverside pubs, some amazing restaurants and bars as well as several theatres that you can enjoy on your day. Here's what you need to know...

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What to stay: There are plenty of hotels and B&B's around but we suggest The Legacy Falcon a 16th century residence complete with half-timbering and a quaint Tudor feel with modern bedrooms and communal areas. This hotel has everything you'll need to make your stay an enjoyable one from open fire places for relaxing in front of with a glass of red wine or an ale to a beautiful courtyard garden and award winning restaurant. It's also in the heart of town so you're right next to everything you could ever wish to visit.

What to do: There's several pass times around Stratford but we suggest taking the  hop on, hop off City Bus Tour as it's by far the quickest and easiest way of seeing everything the city has to offer in a short time. All five of Shakespeares houses are worth a visit in particular Mary Arden's Farm, a real working Tudor farm complete with falconry displays, a petting zoo, horses, goats, pigs and several other types of animal. What's more when you buy a ticket to all five houses you make a pretty big saving and tickets are valid for up to 12 months so you can return any time. Aside from the houses there's also the Stratford armories, a butterfly farm and a beautiful park to explore which regularly plays hosts to markets and music and theatre events.

Where to eat and drink: We recommend Marlowe's which claims to offer the finest food and cellar in the area. Situated in the heart of town it's the perfect spot for a bite of dinner in traditional Tudor surroundings. We suggest trying the rib eye steak which is really, really good. As for drinking there are loads of reasonably priced and very cosy pubs in the area as well as some more up market and trendy bars such as No.7, and Hole in the Wall.

For more information head over to the tourist information website which has loads of tips and tricks and places to visit in the area.

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As the Olympics are ever creeping closer we began to think that it might be a good option to have a look at how you can remove yourself from all the hustle and bustle that will inevitably be London over the period. First stop Bath.

Bath is only an hour and half from London by train and is a stunning city. It has enough houses for a Londoner to not panic and enough open spaces for them to feel like they are  somewhere totally different.

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The city is rich with history as Roman settlers created the Roman Baths around the only natural hot spring in the whole of the UK that resides in Bath. The remains are still there and open for visitors, you can even drink the water if you like, said to have healing properties.

If history is not your thing then there are a number of parks and stunning buildings to wonder around as well as an amazing slap up tea to be had at the Pump Rooms in the town centre.

Over all Bath is cheap and pubs are friendly so you can easily find an evening out or nice meal.

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We stayed at the Bath Priory Hotel which is just a short walk out of the city center of Bath through the park. The hotel is great to visit for lunch dinner or drinks even if you're not staying, with a bustling atmosphere in the restaurant in the evening and a beautiful garden to sit in.

lgrfp954gkIf your main aim is to relax once you get away from the big smoke then look no further than the Thermae Spa, again in the center of the city. The spa is huge and its water is the same water from the natural hot spring just cooled a little to make it a great swimming temperature. You can have treatments here but the real Pièce de résistance is the rooftop swimming pool that's open right through to the evening so you can watch the sunset whilst sitting in a steaming warm pool.

For full information and will help booking and planning your visit contact the hugely helpful Bath Tourist Information.