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The Arden Hotel is centre stage in Stratford-on-Avon

The Arden Hotel exterior

Roger St Pierre summarises its multitudinous attractions

Situated overlooking the banks of the languid River Avon and literally just a few short steps from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s box office, the smartly contemporary The Arden Hotel is the address to target when booking an event in bustling Stratford-upon-Avon. Behind this boutique property’s warm, red brick and half-timbered exterior, they’ve invested in gallons of white, pastel and soft grey paints to create a pleasingly relaxing, light-filled ambience throughout the 45 comfortable guestrooms and suites.

One of the seven properties in the Eden Hotel Collection, The Arden fully meets the group’s exacting standards. All the guest rooms have flat-screens, free Wi-Fi, DVD players and mini-fridges, plus marble bathrooms and tea- and coffee-making facilities. Upgraded rooms and suites also have comfortable sitting areas.

Boasting its own dedicated Champagne bar, the hotel’s 96-seat Waterside Brasserie is a popular meeting spot that can be hired in toto and has a spacious terrace for al fresco pre-dinner drinks and nibbles – a delightful setting framed by a beautifully landscaped Elizabethan knot garden.

Air-conditioned throughout and boasting a fully integrated sound system, the hotel’s pretty Brooke Suite can cater for up to 40 delegates theatre-style. Sunlight streamed through the large French windows, which open out onto the terraced area.

Given that this is the year in which the world is commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Noble Bard’s passing, it’s appropriate that a core chunk of the Midlands’ region formerly known to us as The Heart of England and centred on Stratford, now markets itself more specifically as Shakespeare’s England. Judging by the happy throngs of Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern and American tourists currently filling Stratford’s streets to overflow levels, it’s a sales approach that’s been working exceptionally well in attracting business groups as well as the leisure sector, giving the Arden an ace card to play.

Since many of those foreign tourists hunt in packs, local operators are well versed in meeting the demands of every end of the group market, from private wedding parties to full-on conferences, corporate meetings and incentives.

Being set within a few steps of the river and the RSC, the Arden benefits from the ripple effect, providing a quality accommodation package not just for a raft of events in Stratford itself but linking its offer to major business events at the National Exhibition Centre – just 20 minutes away – and to venues across Birmingham.

On home turf, the hotel works closely with its RSC neighbours across the street, whose prestigious venue now houses two thrust stage auditoria – the 1,000-seater Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the 450-seater Swan Theatre – and which can offer pre-arranged guided group tours and engaging exhibitions, as well as hosting all manner of corporate events.

The Arden can also facilitate corporate packages at the lavishly upgraded British Motor Museum – formerly known as the Heritage Motor Centre. Head out of town to Gaydon and you find the venue next door to the modern factory that produces the successful ranges of Jaguar, Range Rover and Land Rover cars.

A petrol head’s delight and a spectacular setting for corporate launches, lavish balls and other functions, here in a futuristic building of hanger-like proportions is the world’s largest collection of historic British motorcars, including prototype, racing and production models from the Jaguar Heritage Collection, along with an array of motoring artefacts – providing a spectacular back-drop for events.

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