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  • Writer's pictureNicole Leonetti

Exploring Stratford-upon-Avon & Cliveden House

During our UK trip last July, we had the pleasure of staying for one night at Cliveden House. It was an amazing visit and I wanted to share our enchanting experience with you!

We woke up that morning in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, Wales and were going to drive to Cliveden House, which is located in Taplow, England. While plotting out our journey, I realized that a perfect spot to stop for lunch was Stratford-upon-Avon—the birthplace of the one and only Shakespeare. So, it was pretty much the best rest stop of all time! It was a lovely drive from Wales into England, and we came up to Stratford-upon-Avon at exactly the right time as we were getting hungry and were more than ready for lunch. We parked in one of the convenient parking lots they have around the town and walked to Old Thatch Tavern for lunch. It’s the oldest pub in Stratford-upon-Avon, dating back to 1470. I’m also quite a pushover for a thatched roof building so this was an easy selection for us. I had researched the menu in advance, of course, but hadn’t realized that we were visiting on a Sunday and that is when they have their special Sunday Roast menu. So, it was a special Sunday Carvery, Chef-served buffet where you select hand carved meats, Yorkshire pudding, multiple potato and vegetable options, and the most delicious gravy. We enjoyed our lunch with a few Pimm’s Cups and it was glorious! I could have stayed at Old Thatch all day, but we eventually left and wandered around Stratford-upon-Avon for a while to take in the sights. We were able to see the house where Shakespeare was born and, naturally, spent a lot of time in the gift shop. Then it was time to continue our journey on to Cliveden House.

Birthplace of Shakespeare

Initially, I was a little annoyed because I had planned our visit to Cliveden BEFORE Meghan Markle stayed at that hotel the night before her royal wedding. I didn’t want people to think that I had selected that hotel solely because of her connection to it. However, I was also secretly thrilled that we would be staying at the same place she did before such a momentous occasion. Needless to say, my excitement level was high as we were making our way to Cliveden House. I was in awe as we entered the gates and drove up the long drive to this amazing place! It was even more impressive than I imagined! It is such a stately property and I immediately felt like we didn’t belong there as we pulled up. But the welcoming staff quickly assuaged my fears. They could not have been lovelier, and they walked us into the lobby and directed us to a comfy settee as we waited to be checked in. We were expediently checked into our room and were walked to our room by a staff member - our luggage following shortly behind. We were very happy to be escorted to our room since the hotel has so many hallways and steps, we would have surely gotten lost. The rooms are also named instead of numbered, so we would have been wandering around for quite some time without the kind assistance. We were lucky to stay in the Mr. Lee room and I fell in love with it right away. It had the comfiest bed, a nice desk area, and a large bathroom. We settled into our room before heading out to explore the grounds.

Our walk around Cliveden House is one of my favorite memories of our entire UK trip. We went downstairs and walked through the lobby and then walked to the rear of the hotel to the back patio. The view was astounding! The lawn of Cliveden is gorgeous, and it was perfect weather. We walked the length of the lawn and then I realized that the property was along the Thames River, so we were on a mission to see the Thames up close and personal. We felt so adventurous as we just picked a random path and followed it through the trees and found steps that took us right down to the river. It was so beautiful as we just sat on the bank of the Thames and enjoyed the view. Then we made our way up many steps and then up many more steps to get back to the hotel. On our way, we also stumbled upon Cliveden’s Rose Garden which is based on an original 1950s design. It was the most delightful rose garden and inspired me to want to grow roses in my garden…. once I have a garden that is. Then it was time to get back to our room to freshen up for dinner.

For dinner that evening, we made our way down to the Astor Grill to meet our travel companions. This restaurant is located in the old stables of Cliveden House and we basked in the lovely weather at our outdoor patio table. We started with the English Charcuterie Board and the Burrata Cheese. For my entrée, I devoured the Superfood Salad. And even though I’m not typically a dessert fan, I could not pass up on their Banoffee Cheesecake – it was heaven. It was such a delightful meal! After dinner, we made our way to the lounge area for a few after-dinner drinks. It was a very intimate lounge that was in a beautiful library-type setting with many books and amazing paintings along the walls. I wanted to know the history of each painting, so I plan to research that info before I return.

The next morning, I woke up early and walked over to the spa for my facial appointment. It was a luxurious spa with such lovely service. It was the best facial I’ve ever had! I wanted to hide in one of the treatment rooms of the spa so I wouldn’t have to leave. But alas, it was time to head back to London.

I will always cherish my time at Cliveden House and cannot wait to visit once again!


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