It’s been a month since our last newsletter and two weeks since we reopened. We have had a fantastic first two weeks open and met some lovely guests both new and old.

Things have obviously been a little different for us mainly around the breakfast service. Without the buffet option available we have had to remember to offer all the normal things (fruit, cereals etc.) guests would normally help themselves too. It took us both nearly a week to realise we had both been forgetting to offer jam & marmalade (sorry!). A week on, we seem to have everything ironed out and our changes have been very well received by our guests.

Even with the rise in staycations in the UK, without the usual foreign tourists visiting Stratford-upon-Avon it has impacted our occupancy for August, which is normally near 100%.  We don’t think this is as bad as if first sounds. So far, we have not had any more than four rooms in on any given night so it has been easy for us to space guests at breakfast time without having to ask people to come down at separate times. So far, we have also been able to leave rooms unoccupied for 24 hours after guests have checked out; while this does not have a direct benefit to incoming guests as we obviously sanitise the rooms fully before each stay, it gives us a little more peace of mind when cleaning.

For stays of two nights you will receive 10% off our standard rate, for stays of 3 or more nights you will receive 20% off our standard rate and for stays of 5 or more nights you will receive 30% off our standard rate. This is available for most dates in 2020 and for new bookings only. We hope you understand with four months closed, we are not in a position to discount previously made bookings, sorry.

If you would like to book and discuss any of our new policies please feel free to give us a call on 01789 205940 or you can book directly on our website via this link to ensure you get the best rates.

We have had many guests comment on how well the attractions are dealing with the new measures they have had to put in place. The Birthplace is taking pre-bookings and they seem plentiful so a great opportunity to visit without the normal crowds. If you fancy a personal tour of the town, Stratford Town Walk are currently doing single household/bubble tours via pre-booking for any time of the day it is £10 per person and there is minimum charge of £30.  There are many National Trust properties just a short drive away which are taking pre-bookings and I was told this morning that Kiftsgate Court Gardens are fantastic at the moment and no pre-booking is necessary.

If you are planning a trip to Stratford and have and further questions please feel free to send us an email or give us a call.

We look forward to welcoming many of you soon.

Rob and, of course, Clare

Instagram – @avonlea_bnb

Facebook – @AvonleaStratford

Twitter – @avonlea_bnb

Back in March, we were just getting ready for a holiday in Gran Canaria but just a few days before we realised that we didn’t want to travel. We were unsure what to do, and then about a week or so later we were told we could not travel.

With a mix of relief that we would now be getting our money back for the holiday and a little worry about the future, lockdown was soon upon us. I will be honest in saying the first few weeks we took a complete break from anything to do with Avonlea as we knew we had plenty of time and we both really need a deadline to work to.

During these first few weeks, we concentrated on helping others locally who have been isolating and unable to leave the house. Doing this was as helpful to us as it was to them, we enjoyed an excuse to get out the house and do something useful for someone else, as we have both always worked in hospitality we are always happier looking after others.

We started going for early morning walks with the dogs and enjoying Stratford-upon-Avon’s springtime beauty. Normally at this time of year, we do not have time to appreciate this so it was nice. We also enjoyed getting to meet more of our neighbours during the clap for NHS and key workers on a Thursday night. We are humbled and grateful to everyone who has put their life on their line to help out during this terrible time. A couple of weeks into the clapping we decided to start dressing up to make the neighbours smile, which it certainly did! Here are some pictures for those of you who have not seen them already.

Rob and Clare at Avonlea BnBAvonlea BnB Statford upon AvonRob and Clare at Stratford Bed and Breakfast

Although Clare had commandeered room one as her crafting room to give us a little more space, after a little while we realised that our holiday in our favourite Bed and Breakfast in Stratford-upon-Avon could not last forever and we needed to do some work.

Clare has done a fantastic job on the touch up decorating in the B&B; we have been here nine years as of next week and we still have not found the time to decorate our private accommodation!

During this time I have spent many hours researching the protocols we needed to put in place to help us keep ourselves and more importantly our customers safe. I won’t bore you all with everything I have learned as that is one very deep rabbit hole but I can assure you we are confident that when we re-open on the 1st August we will have all the procedures in place to keep you safe. This is backed up by our ‘We’re good to go’ COVID-19 certificate that has been awarded to us by VisitEngland, our national tourism organisation. If you would like to see our policy, please click here.

You may ask why we are waiting until the 1st August. The main reason is we wanted to ensure that we have everything in place and do not rush the re-opening just for a few extra bookings. Also, we have decided to have a short break away ourselves, so we are having 3 nights away in a self-catering property in the UK because 2020 (and hopefully 2021) is the year of the staycation in the UK!

We are looking forward to recharging our batteries ready to welcome lots of wonderful guests for the summer season.

Until recently, understandably, bookings have been down for the rest of the year so we are running a couple of special offers to entice people back to Stratford.  For stays of two nights, you will receive 10% off our standard rate and for stays of 3 or more nights, you will receive 20% off our standard rate. This is available for most dates in 2020 and for new bookings only. We hope you understand with four months closed we are not in a position to discount previously made bookings sorry.

If you would like to book and discuss any of our new policies please feel free to give us a call on 01789 205940 or you can book directly on our website via this link to ensure you get the best rates.

I have also recently made a commitment to myself to get out and take more pictures, which I love to do and I will be sharing them across all of our social media pages but mainly on our Instagram page. I will be sharing lots of beautiful sights around Stratford and many of our wonderful attractions, shop and restaurants. I might even share the odd picture of our holiday.

Rob and Clare at Avonlea BnB Stratford upon Avon

We look forward to welcoming many of you soon.

Rob and, of course, Clare

Instagram – @avonlea_bnb

Facebook – @AvonleaStratford

Twitter – @avonlea_bnb

We were delighted to reach the final of the inaugural West Midlands Tourism Awards and receive Silver in the category of B&B and Guesthouse of the Year on the big night.

The event was supported by the West Midlands Growth Company that was established to attract visitors and events to the region and was a chance to celebrate the West Midlands’ tourism industry which is now worth £12.6 billion.

Roger Mendonca, CEO of the West Midlands Growth Company, commented: “The West Midlands Tourism Awards will shine a spotlight on the venues that have helped make this unique region a destination of choice for national and international visitors, with tourist numbers, spend and hotel occupancy at an all-time high.”

Forty-three regional finalists were chosen across 15 categories, including Experience of the Year, Large Hotel of the Year and Large Visitor Attraction of the Year. In the B&B and Guesthouse of the Year category, we were delighted to receive Silver against some stiff competition.

If you’d like to find out why we are an award-winning B&B, call us on 01789 205 940 or click here to get in touch.

It has been another busy winter here at Avonlea, we are nearing completion of our final 3 bathrooms and are gearing up to what looks like a fantastic 2017 in Stratford Upon Avon.

Before we tell you what is to come in the months ahead we would like to thank you all for kindly donating to our Christmas Raffle – we managed to raise over £420. We actually did the draw for the winner of the raffle on New Year’s Day but it has taken until now to sit down and write the newsletter. So the winner is Alexander Schmidt. Congratulations we look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea for your two-night stay soon. Maybe something below might tempt you into making your booking.

The RSC Winter schedule for 2017 has been announced and runs from September 2017 until February 2018.  Highlights this year include Twelfth Night, Coriolanus and A Christmas Carol. There is already a buzz around town that A Christmas Carol is going to rival the RSC’s success of Matilda! We certainly hope so. Off the back of looking at the season guide we have decided to break from our normal tradition of closing in January and next year we will be break at the beginning of February instead as there seems like there is a lot to see in January.

To make things a little easier for you below are the links to the forthcoming RSC season guides. If you click and scroll to the bottom of each link you will see a handy calendar schedule.

Summer 2017 (February – September 2017)     Winter 2017 (September 2017 – February 2018)

The Stratford Literary Festival is celebrating its 10th year from the 23rd – 30th April this year and there are some very interesting events, performances and speakers to look out for.  We hope to find some spare time to make it along to something as we really enjoyed it last year.

With all of the above going on this year rooms are selling quick so if you are looking at visiting Stratford during 2017 please get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment and we hope to welcome many of you to Avonlea very soon.

Rob & Clare

With the RSC now halfway through their project to show all of Shakespeare’s First Folio they have announced their shows for winter 2018 taking us all the way through until this time next year.

In the words of Gregory Doran, Artistic Director:

“Our winter season is full of dark comedy and satire, with productions exploring abuse of power, greed, lechery and human potential for change.  Continuing our mission to ensure Shakespeare and theatre are for everyone, this season is packed with exciting theatre artists and has bite, humour and powerful resonances in our volatile world.”

The  season pans out as follows;

Troilus and Cressida, directed by Gregory Doran, with music by Evelyn Glennie – dedicated to the memory of the RSC’s co-founder, John Barton 12 October – 17 November 2018

A Christmas Carol, adapted from Dickens’ tale by David Edgar and directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, back by popular demand 4 December 2018 – 20 January 2019,

Tamburlaine, by Christopher Marlowe – directed by Michael Boyd, who returns to the RSC for the first time since stepping down as Artistic Director 16 August – 1 December 2018

Tartuffe, a new version of Molière’s classic, by Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto, directed by Iqbal Khan and set in Birmingham’s Pakistani Muslim community 7 September 2018 – 23 February 2019

Timon of AthensKathryn Hunter takes the title role, directed by Simon Godwin 7 December 2018 – 22 February 2019

Public booking for each level goes on sale on the following dates:

RSC Members 12th Feb 2018

RSC Subscribers 26th Feb 2018

Public Booking 5th March 2018

If you follow this RSC link and click “calendar view” you will then be able to filter “play” & “Stratford” you will then have their performances by monthly calendar view.

Don’t forget there is a packed schedule starting next month, including Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet.

Bookings are open up until the end of February 2018; many dates during the summer are filling up and as soon as the RSC bookings are released the winter will fill up too so please book ahead.

Please note as we are closed in February we will not be able to take bookings over the phone from Saturday 3rd February until Wednesday 28th February. You will still be able to make bookings via our website and we will also be able to take email enquiries.

We hope to welcome many of you to Avonlea soon.

Rob & Clare

It has been a busy start to 2018, the RSC winter program has been very popular with all of our guests. We are proud to say we raised £460 in this year’s raffle bringing our total to nearly £1400 in the last 3 years. All of this money has gone to the Guide Dogs Shakespeare Puppies appeal, which as most of you know is a cause close to our hearts.

We had many very generous donations again this year and we are very happy to announce that the winner (chosen at random) of the competition is Charlie Budd, some of you might recognise his name from one of our newsletters a few years ago. Charlie was our decorator who helped us with the refurbishment of Avonlea.

Unfortunately, after an accident last year where Charlie broke his back in a fall at work he has had to hang up his paintbrushes and seek a new career. He is a very talented photographer and videographer so he is now moving into this field and we wish him the best of luck. He is a Stratford resident so we wait to see if his prize goes to some visiting friends or if Charlie decides to take the short trip across town to get a break from the kids!

Thank you once again for everyone who donated to this very worthy cause.

We aim to do another newsletter in a couple of weeks covering the RSC 2018 schedules and other special events happing in Stratford in 2018. We are filling up for some dates for the 2018 summer season so if you are planning a trip to Stratford don’t forget to book soon so you don’t miss out.

Rob & Clare

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas.  Just a little bit of news from Avonlea this month but don’t forget to read to the end for your chance to win a free stay with us. Once again we have decided not to send Christmas cards, instead, we have decided to give the postie a break and we will be donating the money we would have spent on cards and postage and donate it the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

As many of you know the Guide Dogs is a charity we feel passionately about and we have supported them for the last two years. We were also looking after a stud dog of theirs called Murphy who had been living with us for the last 18 months. The plan was that he would live with us and then got to ‘work’ with them every month or so to produce lots of new Guide Dog puppies.

Unfortunately, in March he had a seizure in the night that was potentially epilepsy and after going through a period of observation for a couple of months it was confirmed that he does have epilepsy.  Due to that, he would have to be withdrawn, as they could not ethically breed from him due to the risk of passing it on.

We then had the tough decision to make, we could have kept him as a pet but this would have meant that we would not have been able to continue helping the association, as with already having Ben we would not have been able to accommodate a third dog.  We decided it would be best if they rehomed Murphy and he has gone to what sounds like a fantastic home where he is going to be well and truly spoiled.

We are now waiting for another stud dog from the Guide Dogs, we are not sure how long it will take, they are just waiting for the right one for us to come along. Once he is with us we will update you all.

Now on to the bit where you can win a stay with us at Avonlea. As we did last year we have set up a JustGiving page and for everyone who is kind enough to make a donation to the Guide Dogs Shakespeare Puppies Appeal via this page, we will enter you into a prize draw to win two nights at Avonlea. We would like a minimum donation of £2, and for each multiple of £2 you will get another entry into the draw. So if you donated £10 you would get 5 entries.

Last entries for the draw will be 7th January 2018 and we will announce the winner soon after.  We would really like to hit £700 this year so please don’t forget to buy your tickets.

Good luck and once again we wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Rob & Clare

International Shakespeare Conference Update

Just a quick update as you expressed interest in staying for the International Shakespeare Conference in 2016. We have had an update from one of the other attendees that the date has changed. The ISC in 2018 has been changed to: Sunday 22nd July – Friday 27th July.

We have had a few bookings already and anticipate filling up for the week.  If you are attending the conference in 2018 and are considering staying with us please get in touch soon to secure your room.

The first few nights of Twelfth Night have been fantastically popular and although we have not had a chance to see it yet many of our guests have been telling us that it has been a full house every night and it is well worth seeing. We suggest you get online to the RSC website to book as soon as possible.

We expect A Christmas Carol that starts in a couple of weeks to be a big hit also.

The first date that both shows are on back to back is the weekend of 8th December, however as that falls on the same weekend as the Victorian Fair most of Stratford has been fully booked for quite some time.  If you are looking to see both performances we do have availability for later in December and into January but we are filling up so we suggest booking as quickly as possible. If you can get your stay to include a Thursday in December you will get to enjoy the Christmas Markets.

Last year we were proud to win the Stratford Independent Shop Awards for Best Hotel/B&B. We have been nominated again this year. The voting has opened and if you think we deserve your vote we would be very grateful if you could follow the link and fill out the form.  We have our fingers crossed for the other local business we love….

One of our regular guests who stayed with us again last week gave me some leaflets about the British Shakespeare Association of which she is a trustee. It is always great to hear about the events and meetings she attends.

It is a friendly, supportive community for anyone with a professional interest in Shakespeare. She promised it is not as highbrow or scary as one might expect so why not take a look at their website and see if you would like to join?

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our newsletter next month when we will launch our Christmas Charity Raffle with the opportunity to win a stay with us at Avonlea.

We wouldn’t normally send three newsletters out in one month but we wanted to share the news as soon as possible.

We are very proud to announce that on 21st September we became WINNERS of The Coventry & Warwickshire Tourism and Culture Awards for Small Hotel or B&B. We won this category in the inaugural year of the awards in 2015, they did not run our category last year so we are over the moon to retain the award for 2017. Thank you for all of your support, we could not do it without feedback from people like yourselves.

We wanted to take this opportunity to remind you all that the RSC is not the only fantastic place for theatre in and around Stratford. In fact, myself and Clare have 10 visits to various theatres locally and none of it is to see any Shakespeare.

In Stratford, many of you will know The Attic Theatre, as you will have seen it when you cross the bridge into town, but you may not have heard of the Stratford Arts House. We see a lot of things there including plays, musicals and comedy.

On our most recent visit, we saw Jay Rayner on what we thought was a tour promoting his new book The 10 (food) Commandments–  what we got was a hugely funny stand-up show.

Those of you who know us know we love to eat out and I have always liked to read Jay’s opinions about where he eats. It is always witty and insightful and he has managed to put this whit into his stage show. He is also a pianist in a jazz quartet and he treated us to a number to round off the night. When you bring food, comedy and jazz together you are sure to be in for a good night and Jay certainly does not disappoint. Above is the link to the rest of his tour. I strongly recommend you try and see him if you can.

Also coming up at the Stratford Arts House is A Midsummer Nights Scream and it sounds fantastic.

A Midsummer Night’s Scream is a celebration of the Decadent, Dark Side of Burlesque and Cabaret ready for Halloween!

Hosted by the Grand Duchess of Cabaret we welcome Kiki DeVille back to the ArtsHouse. This show will feature burlesque, magic, dance, hula hooping, pole dancing and sword swallowing! Not for the narrow minded this show promises you a spooktacular night to remember

Don’t forget that the RSC Summer 2018 booking window opens in the next couple of weeks (depending on your level of membership). We can honestly say that this looks like it is going to be the most popular season since we opened 6 years ago. The link above is to our synopses of the season and if anything takes your fancy we suggest you book as soon as you can.

As the winter season has just started we look forward to welcoming many of you back to Avonlea in the coming months.

Rob & Clare

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