Last week Sean and I had the pleasure of staying at Hallmark Hotel The Welcombe, in beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon. When we got engaged in June 2015, we assumed that we would be married within a couple of years. Work commitments, moving house and general life business got in the way, so we haven’t yet managed to tie the knot. Wedding planning is as difficult as people say it is. We jumped at the chance when Hallmark Hotels invited us to find out more about holding our wedding at The Welcombe. Our problem up to now has mainly been lack of decision about what kind of wedding we want, and where.
All we knew was that we wanted it to be beautiful, and we wanted to be able to put our own stamp on it in a flexible venue. Everything I read about The Welcombe gave me the impression we’d find both of these features there.
The History & Location Of The Welcombe
Hallmark Hotels The Welcombe is located just outside of Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. The hotel is set within 157 acres of land, and is a Grade II listed 19th century country manor. The origins of the site are a little clouded, but at one point the house was passed into the ownership of Thomas and John Combe, whose father Shakespeare himself purchased some land from. The house passed through relatively few hands, and was designed and built as we can see it today by the MP Mark Philips in 1869. It became a hotel in 1931.
One feature I particularly love about The Welcombe is that it was built as a Calendar House. It has seven entrances (one for each day of the week), and fifty two chimneys (one for each week of the year). It also has twelve fireplaces, for each month of the year, and three hundred and sixty five windows for each day of the year. This is to instil prosperity and luck into all inhabitants and guests of the house. What better place for a wedding venue!
The Hotel’s Facilities
There’s a lot to do at The Welcombe. When you arrive you drive up a long, leafy driveway which traverses the golf course. There’s also a spa, providing Elemis treatments. The spa has a Finnish sauna, Caldarium, Lacondium, Tepidarium, outdoor vitality pool, heated loungers, tropical and polar storm showers, foot spas and an ice fountain. There are also stunning gardens to walk in.
If the weather’s not so good, inside you have gigantic roaring fireplaces, huge sofas and a bar and restaurant to enjoy. There’s also complimentary parking, and a short taxi ride (around 3 minutes, costing about £6) to Stratford-upon-Avon itself so you can explore the area.
Getting Married At The Welcombe
The hotel runs weddings all year round. As you can imagine with a venue as sought after as this one, early booking is advisable as it can get booked up to two years in advance. However, if you are flexible about dates there may well be a date within a few months available. A summer wedding would mean full use of the gardens with its rose bushes and fountains. A winter wedding would also be magical there, with roaring fires and hopefully falling snow.
Wedding ceremonies can take place in several rooms at the hotel. In 2019 it also plans to offer outdoor weddings, in this beautiful iron gazebo.
I found that The Welcombe are extremely adaptable when it comes to giving you the wedding of your dreams. If you want something, all you have to do is ask. A few of the possibilities include:
- Entrance in a helicopter
- A fireworks display
- Casino tables
There are packages that you can take advantage of, but you can also custom-design your own package with the help of the wedding team at The Welcombe.
There are a handful of different rooms that you can choose from for your civil ceremony and your reception. The Welcombe also offer you exclusive use of the venue, with a drinks reception on the night before the wedding.
There are seventy eight bedrooms in the hotel, so plenty of room for all your guests if they want to stay. There are also seven apartments. We were able to view a couple of these suites, and I have to say they were just stunning.
I fell in love with this bathroom and its tromp l’oeil.
Everything was just immaculate, with high quality furnishings and everything you could need for a comfortable stay.
The bride and groom are given a complimentary night in a bridal suite on the night of their wedding. There’s also the option to upgrade to the Countess Suite for the night instead. A lovely touch is that, as part of your wedding package, you are also able to return on your wedding anniversary a year later for a complimentary stay at the hotel.
From the moment we arrived and pulled into our own designated parking space, to when we checked out, we felt very welcome and looked after at the hotel. The reception staff were amazing, as were all other staff we encountered in the hotel.
The beauty of the hotel blew us away. I really did feel like Lady Mary sweeping down the staircases into the hall at Downton Abbey on several occasions!
The well-tended gardens are extremely beautiful. There is a large veranda overlooking the gardens. On a sunny day I could imagine sharing a bottle of something fizzy there and admiring the view.
Our room was just beautiful. We stayed in a Four Poster Room overlooking the gardens.
Handmade chocolates in the room and a handwritten card from reception welcoming us to the hotel were a nice touch. Again, the room was immaculate. We had a fantastic night’s sleep here, in a very cosy bed and in perfect silence. You can’t hear traffic at all so it’s a really relaxing place to stay. I would imagine it to be the perfect place to rest and relax the morning after your wedding.
Our dinner in the hotel was lovely. I had the gnocchi, with some of the best olives I’ve ever tasted. My starter of sweet potato and spring onion soup was delicious. There were many different kinds of freshly-baked bread we could choose from. Sean had goat’s cheese for his starter, and Stone Bass for the main. Both of us agreed the food was absolutely delicious. So was the wine our very attentive waiter suggested for us.
The spa is a gorgeous place to spend some time.
You can actually have your hen weekend at the hotel. The suites sleep up to seven people, so hen parties often stay there. The suites are right next to the spa, so you and your hens can have a really relaxing weekend getting pampered. The spa also have a makeup artist who will do bridal makeup as well.
If you feel a little more energetic you can use the gym or join in with some of the exercise classes on offer.
The Local Area
If you’ve been to Stratford-upon-Avon then you’ll know what a beautiful and historic market town it is.
We took a trip into the town to have a look around.
If you’re looking for history, romance, quirkiness, good food and drink, and shopping all in one place, then I highly recommend Stratford. It has the most gorgeous Tudor houses mixed in with high street shops, tea rooms and beauty parlours.
We had a walk along the River Avon, looking at the swans and ducks. There are several cruises you can take down the river, day or night. It’s a real hub of activity, and a great place for wedding guests to visit before or after your wedding.
I can safely and honestly say we could not fault our stay at The Welcombe at all. There were friendly and attentive staff who really helped us to feel welcome. Our tour with Jade, the hotel’s Wedding Executive, told us all we’d need to know about planning our wedding there. The setting itself is stunning, the hotel is incredible to say the least, and the nearby area has everything you or your wedding guests could need.
I’d stay there again tonight if I could!
If you’re planning a wedding and looking for the venue, I believe you could find everything you need at The Welcombe.
Have you been to Stratford-upon-Avon? Are you planning your wedding? I’d love to know what you think of the hotel.
Many thanks to Hallmark Hotels for kindly allowing me to stay at The Welcombe. As always, all photos, thoughts and words are my own and are completely honest. To read my full disclosure, click here.
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