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  • Join acclaimed Road Scholar theater expert Giles Ramsay and guest speakers on a complete immersion into the life and works of William Shakespeare.
  • Enjoy a private reception at Shakespeare’s birthplace — a shrine to millions — and get a tantalizing glimpse into his world and take dinner in the RSC Rooftop Restaurant.
  • Enjoy three performances at the Royal Shakespeare Company and two at the Globe, an amazing reproduction of the original Elizabethan playhouse.

In the canon of Western literature, there is but one artist who stands above all others: William Shakespeare. Led by acclaimed theater critic, director and instructor, Giles Ramsay, join other lovers of the Bard on an immersive look into Shakespeare’s life and works in Stratford-upon-Avon and London. Walk the streets of his birthplace, learn about life in Elizabethan England, become inspired by Shakespeare scholars, and of course — watch a selection of outstanding performances. This is a truly special opportunity to experience why Shakespeare still speaks to us generation after generation. As the Bard said, “O this learning, what a thing it is.”

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Road Scholar Travel Reviews & Ratings
87% Recommend

4.5 out of 5
Excellent 23 Great 3 Average 1 Disappointing 1 Terrible 2
4.5 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.5 Lodging
4.3 Transportation
4.4 Meals
The Best of the Bard: The World and Words of Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon and London

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Does Not Recommend

Road Scholar Owes My Mom A Huge Apology and Refund. Highly advise AGAINST using them. May 2018

  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
Let me preface this story with some background about myself: I backpacked through most of Europe by myself when I was studying abroad in Ireland. I suffered through horrendous bus rides, getting kicked out of seats on trains, sleeping in questionable hostels, and going weeks without being able to really do laundry. I know how crappy it can be to actually get from one place to another, and how worth it is to suffer through all of that just to lay eyes on something magnificent.

And yet, Road Scholar has, without a doubt, managed to give me the single worst travel experience I've ever had in my entire life, and we didn't even make it off the ground. I would never, ever, EVER recommend them to anyone looking to go anywhere, and as far as I'm concerned, Road Scholar needs to seriously reconsider their travel-making procedures and give my mother a huge apology and refund. (Also, I'm only in my twenties, so I have a lot of years ahead of me to make referrals.)

It all started with Road Scholar not getting us flights. We claimed our spot on a trip to the Lake region in Northern Italy, but no one ever called us back about any travel arrangements. It appeared we were on the trip IN Italy, but no one had bothered to make any arrangements to get us there. My mother called and left messages, emailed people, and the only response we got was that our flight should be booked at some point in early May (when our trip was set to start on May 22). Road Scholar urges people to book their flights through their preferred travel agency, which is who didn't call us back. Road Scholar, to market themselves as educational tourism rather than shallow "I just want to see things" tourism, partners up with different educational institutions, and ours was through Trinity College. The director of the Italian programs called us asking for our travel information, since she didn't have it yet. Interesting news to us. We were then told that we could make travel arrangements of our own (even though we were paying Road Scholar to do it for us) and then inform the program of our travel plans and how we were getting to our hotel. So we started to investigate making our own plans, when someone finally called us back saying that they were taking care of our travel arrangements, and they "didn't know why we hadn't had them made for us already." The director of the program was happy to hear this, because the Lake region of Italy is not as easily accessible as other areas.

We asked for upgraded seats because my mom has had both of her knees replaced, and while that doesn't inhibit her in the slightest from being active, it limits where she can sit on planes. In a cramped regular economy seat with no leg room on an international flight that was going to last 8-10 hours, she wouldn't have been able to walk off the plane because of how her knees would cramp up. But they said they could make the arrangements (which is also advertised on their website) so that was that. We got our itinerary, accommodations, and were all set. We were booked through United and Lufthansa (neither of which either of us will EVER book through again), so I downloaded the United app onto my iPhone so I could check us in and make sure we had mobile copies of our boarding passes in addition to the paper ones my mom printed out. We were all set to fly from Cincinnati to Washington D.C., from D.C. to Frankfurt, and from Frankfurt down to Verona where we would be meeting up with the group -- which, by the way, we never received any information regarding where the group was meeting, the transportation to the lake resort, etc. Nothing. Just "after you get there" stuff.

Then this morning, I woke up to a notification from United Airlines (and a text message alert that I had set up) saying that our flight to D.C. had been cancelled due to weather. Obviously I'm not blaming Road Scholar for that. What I am holding Road Scholar accountable for is what happened next: my mom called the Emergency Hotline (which is a recording -- and I HIGHLY recommend that they change this, because when I studied abroad, we had two emergency hotlines, both of which were always answered by real human beings, one for anything happening in the United States, and the other for the program, which was a different number for each location and a direct line to one of the program directors on the ground in the country you were actually in). We left a voicemail, someone named Mike called us back, and he was an absolute asshole. When you book your flight through a travel agency/group travel organization, if anything happens to your flight, it is the THEIR responsibility to take care of it. We were told by Road Scholar, and it's available on their website: "When you book your airfare through Road Scholar, we're there to help you in case of any emergencies." When Mike called us back and we told him that our flight to D.C. had been cancelled, he told us that he couldn't look up any other flights (on both United and any other airlines) for us to potentially get on to get to D.C for our transatlantic flight. Instead, he told us to call United ourselves and to go to the airport and talk to the desk agent. I then ended up on the phone (and on hold) the entire drive to the airport, which resulted in nothing because tons of flights had been cancelled due to airline politics and weather. We finally got to the desk agent at the airport, had a hell of a time getting rebooked on another flight, and weren't able to get the upgraded seats that we paid extra money for. When we called Road Scholar and Mike back to ask if during the course of our day when we would be traveling (and unable to make phone calls) he would call Lufthansa to at least make the airline aware of our need for better seating due to my mother's knee replacements, he was unhelpful and rude, at first attempting to refuse calling on our behalf and finally agreeing to, but only after repeatedly telling us "there's no guarantee of those seats" (something we definitely understood because we're not stupid).

Our rebooked flight wasn't set to leave until 7:45 PM tonight, putting us in Verona at 4:05 PM the next day (4 hours after the group transfer to the hotel), so we returned home instead of waiting around the airport for 12 hours. We got on both United and Lufthansa's websites and discovered that not only had our original itineraries not been removed, we had been double booked, one for a flight out of North Carolina to Munich through Delta, and another out of D.C. (the 7:45 PM flight) which had a 23 hour layover in Munich. A call to Road Scholar resulted in us being told that we had to contact the airlines. My mother was on the phone, talking to either United representatives or Lufthansa representatives, from about 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM. We were told we had reservations but no tickets, told we had tickets but couldn't see the numbers, told there were seats available for us to get upgraded to but we would have to try to get the desk agent in D.C. to arrange that for us, told that there was no guarantee we could get those seats, and more. It was incredible the amount of bureaucratic bullshit we had to put up with, especially since each airline wouldn't take any responsibility for us getting the seats we paid for and on a new flight, telling us "we'd have to talk to the other company about that." We finally called Road Scholar to see if there was anything more they could do, who encountered the same mess we already had, and all they did was eventually advise us to go back to the airport (a 45 minute drive) and talk to the desk agent to see IF they could put us in the upgraded seats -- ones we had already paid for and my mom couldn't make the trip without!

Then when asked how they would be getting us to our destination in the Lake region (which is not an easy place to get to, as I looked up the train and bus schedules myself, because - remember - I have tons of experience at this point traveling on the ground across Europe), they wouldn't outright say what our plans would be, which could've been anything from picking us up in the airport in a car, giving us a damn rental to drive ourselves, or simply paying for tickets and expecting us to haul all our luggage from the airport to the shuttle to the train station in Verona, take the 2+ hour train to a town an hour away from our destination, have to catch a bus to the actual town we were supposed to be in, and then walk the rest of the way there. Seeing what all happened, I would bet it would've been the latter, which isn't a problem for someone like me, but is an issue for someone like my mom.

The moral of the story here is that my mom and I shouldn't have had to be on the phone with anyone other than Road Scholar, PERIOD. Seeing as we paid well over $10,000 for this trip, the minute the flight was cancelled, Road Scholar should've called us to let us know that they would be making other arrangements for us to get to our trip in the Lake region of Italy. THEY should've been the ones on the phone, dealing with the airline bureaucrats, working their hardest to get us any combination of flights to get us to Italy in the seats that we paid for. Or, if it really came down to it, they should've made arrangements for us to be on this trip at another point in time, offered us another excursion in its place, or simply given us a refund. Instead, they didn't want to do the jobs that we paid them to do, and we were the ones that had to take time out of our day, which was already scheduled to be a hectic and stressful time because traveling is simply just that, to do Road Scholar's job. They didn't look out for us one single bit and completely and utterly RUINED what was supposed to have been a wonderful trip for me and my mom.

My mother has an adventurous and curious soul and hasn't gotten to go to Europe the way she always wanted to. Since I graduated college, my mother suggested taking a mother-daughter trip. This was supposed to be incredibly special for the both of us, getting to go somewhere new together (I hadn't explored Northern Italy much and that's where we decided to go), learning about the food and the culture, and bonding over all the amazing things we were going to be able to do. I think my mom was even more excited about this trip than I was, voraciously reading all the required/recommended reading, practicing Italian in her room so she could order correctly at restaurants, not giving up when we hit little bumps in the road along the way. Instead, we have been nothing but doubtful at best in the entire planning of this trip, and deeply disappointed and angered at worst. I will never again recommend Road Scholars to anyone looking to go on group trips. Instead, I will steer people away and recommend that they either find a better travel agency, book the trip themselves, or go through Rick Steve's program.

Road Scholar should issue my mother a refund and an apology or risk being sued.
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Operator Road Scholar


Does Not Recommend

They take advantage of the elderly May 2018

  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
I had high hopes for Road scholar. However, when I was diagnosed with cancer I got no sympathy from Road Scholar. The agents and management kept saying you should have purchased insurance. But the insurance was extremely expensive and would not have covered the cancellation fee either. I ended up attending anyways because I didn't want to lose my money. I felt sick the entire time and could barely complete the activities. The group leader was wonderful. But the program was very strict and I felt that they over charged for everything. They demonstrated shocking behavior for a non profit that is supposed to be all about education and supporting the elderly. Yet they constantly are sending catalogs and pushing expensive programs. I highly recommend taking your money elsewhere. They do not respect their customers and only care about money. They took advantage of a cancer patient and according to the others on my trip this is common.
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Operator Road Scholar


Does Not Recommend


  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 3.0
I would have enjoyed this trip much more if I felt I was being treated as an adult, the educated, enthusiastic traveler that I am.
Unfortunately, I took a fall and broke my arm near the end of the trip. I was shocked at the very insolent, uncaring attitude of Road Scholar. I received two calls from the insurance program my husband was encouraged to pay for for the trip (we usually use Travel Guard who is great). Both calls were very negative. Neither expressed concern about my condition and both apparently had called to state that ROAD SCHOLAR
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Operator Road Scholar


Does Not Recommend

Don't go! March 2017

  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
I took a four day bridge class at Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The class was mediocre. And I came home with over 50 BED BUG BITES! Please beware.

Operator Road Scholar



Excellent coverage of major cities and Guizhou Province January 2017

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Road Scholar (also known as Elderhostel) offers hundreds of tours worldwide, using local tour companies, sometimes universities. I have taken RS tours to Africa, China, and France and look forward to more. This was my first "tour" of China, but my 20th visit, with the rest on business. Our guide, Mei Mei, was one of the finest I've seen on tours. We started with Beijing and continued to Xian and then to Guizhou Province for a week in this fascinating area, which was new to me. We were able to meet the people in the villages, thanks to our guide, and enjoyed the chance to see and photograph such a variety of places in China. Hotels were excellent and appropriate to this type of tour (usually centrally located and very fine). Meals were family style and always good. Road Scholar makes its tours educational and doesn't push shopping as so many commercial ones do. Touring in China is very safe. You do have a lot of walking and RS tells you this in the tour, but it seems that a great deal of the walking is in those huge airports! I recommend Road Scholar and always turn to their catalogs to choose my next trip.
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Operator Road Scholar


Day 1: In Transit to Program

In Flight

Day 2: Arrive, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner: Stratford-upon-Avon.

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Alveston Manor

Lunch: Take a light lunch in the hotel.

Afternoon: Arrivals continue, with free time for those who have already arrived. At 5pm we will have an Orientation in the hotel. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. This program is staffed with both a Group Leader, who will accompany us throughout the program and deal primarily with logistics, and Giles Ramsay, the Study Leader who will lecture, conduct field trips and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities and answer any questions you may have. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Note: Performances will be announced in the 2nd set of preparatory materials.

Dinner: Three course plated and served dinner in the hotel's Waterside Brasserie. Tea, coffee and water included. Other drinks may be purchased.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to relax in the comfort of the Club or Champagne Bar or the Lounge.

Day 3: Shakespeare's Family Homes, Performance: Stratford-upon-Avon.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Alveston Manor

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel. Choose from a variety of eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, baked beans, hash browns, cold cuts and cheeses, toast, jams, marmalade, yoghurts, fruit, juices, teas and coffees.

Morning: Your Shakespeare experience begins with Giles Ramsay's exploration of the Medieval Background to Shakespeare's Work and an introductory briefing on this evening's play.

Lunch: Excluded so that you can sample the many restaurants, tea rooms, cafes and pubs in the town.

Afternoon: Giles Ramsay takes you on a guided walk around central Statford-upon-Avon. Your group leader will give you the Shakespeare Five House Pass to Anne Hathaway's Cottage & Gardens, Hall's Croft, Mary Arden's Farm, New Place & Nash's House, Shakespeare's Birthplace and Shakespeare's Grave. Discover where the young William Shakespeare courted his future bride Anne Hathaway at her picturesque family home.

Dinner: A pre-theatre dinner will be taken in a local restaurant.

Evening: Enjoy a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Full details of all performances will be available in your second set of Preparatory Materials, approximately 6 weeks before the programme.

Day 4: Private Reception at Shakespeare's Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Alveston Manor

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Giles Ramsay gives an illustrated lecture on Shakespeare's verse and Shakespeare's world.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy the local fare of your chosing.

Afternoon: Free afternoon

Dinner: Food will be served at Shakespeare's Birthplace.

Evening: Enjoy a private reception with wine and canapes at, the very special, Shakespeare's Birthplace-where it all began. This is the house where William Shakespeare was born, grew up and played. He ate meals in the hall and he slept and dreamt in these rooms. Shakespeare also spent the first five years of married life in this house with his new wife, Anne Hathaway. For millions of Shakespeare enthusiasts worldwide, this house is a shrine. Here you will discover the world that shaped the man and find out what other famous writers thought when they visited here. Follow in the footsteps of not only Shakespeare, but other well-known visitors such as Charles Dickens, John Keats, Walter Scott and Thomas Hardy. Shakespeare's Birthplace is a fascinating house that offers a tantalising glimpse into Shakespeare's early world. Visit the Shakespeare's Treasures Exhibition, where a new display of items is curated every 6 months.

Day 5: Meet an RSC professional, RSC Rooftop Restaurant Dinner: Stratford-upon-Avon.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Alveston Manor

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Giles Ramsay in conversation with an actor or director from one of the plays you'll see.

Lunch: On your own, your group leader will offer suggestions.

Afternoon: On your own to explore Shakespeare's hometown.

Dinner: Taken in the Rooftop at the RSC. Enjoy the very best of British food in relaxed, contemporary and stylish surroundings with stunning panoramic views from the third floor of the Royal Shakespeare Company's theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon with a terrace looking out onto the River Avon and surrounding countryside.

Evening: Enjoy a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Day 6; Backstage at the RSC: London, England

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Radisson Blu Bloomsbury Street

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Enjoy an expert-led exploration of the Royal Shakespeare Company's theatre. Discover the public and private areas of the theatre, learn about the origins of the RSC and its theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon and explore a production in more depth to learn about the theatre making process. As the RSC is a busy producing theatre company not all spaces, including the auditoria, will be available as part of a tour. Access to these spaces is subject to availability around rehearsal and technical work.

Lunch: On your own, your group leader will offer suggestions.

Afternoon: The coach departs Stratford at 2:00pm for the transfer to London. Check-in at the London hotel and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Early dinner in the hotel.

Evening: Enjoy a Shakespearean performance at one of London's leading theatres.

Day 7: A Performance At The Globe: London, England

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Radisson Blu Bloomsbury Street

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Multi-media Lecture by Giles Ramsay "Shakespeare's Plays in Production from his Death to the Present Day".

Lunch: On your own to take advantage of London's diverse cuisine.

Afternoon: Free time.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: Enjoy a performance at Shakespeare's famous Globe Theatre.

Day 8: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: London, England

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Radisson Blu Bloomsbury Street

Activity note: The Shakespeare's Globe site includes an open air theatre, the Exhibition, and Swan at the Globe Bar and Brasserie. The entrance to the Exhibition is accessed via a ramp on Bankside. It is fully accessible with lifts leading to each section of the Exhibition and up to the Globe Theatre piazza level. There is no lift serving the tours of the theatre, so if stairs are a problem please let the admission desk know and we can adjust the tour to take in your needs.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Giles Ramsay lectures on A Tale of Two Genres: Revenge Tragedy and Masque.

Lunch: Excluded..

Afternoon: Take a field trip south of the River to Sam Wanamaker's Shakespeare's Globe and Exhibition. Shakespeare's Globe is a unique international resource dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare's work and the playhouse for which he wrote, through the connected means of performance and education. The Globe stands a few hundred yards from its original site where pioneer American actor Sam Wanamaker rebuilt the iconic building. Other than concessions to comply with modern day fire regulations such as additional exits, illuminated signage, fire retardant materials and some modern backstage machinery, the Globe is as accurate a reconstruction of the 1599 Globe as was possible with the available evidence. The reconstruction is as faithful to the original as modern scholarship and traditional craftsmanship can make it, but for the time being this Globe is – and is likely to remain – neither more nor less than the "best guess" at Shakespeare’s theatre. Based under the Globe Theatre, our engaging and informative Exhibition explores the life of Shakespeare, the London where he lived, and the theatre for which he wrote. Imagine the Globe as it would have been: the centre of what was once London's most notorious entertainment district, surrounded by raucous taverns and bawdy-houses. Expert guides will take you on a fascinating tour of the iconic Globe Theatre, bringing the space to life with colourful stories of the 1599 Globe, of the reconstruction process in the 1990s, and of how the "Wooden O" works today as an imaginative and experimental theatrical space.

Dinner: Dinner is taken out in a traditional pub.

Evening: Enjoy a performance at Shakespeare's famous Globe Theatre.

Day 9: Meet a Leading Theatre Critic: London, England

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Radisson Blu Bloomsbury Street

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Free morning.

Lunch: A light lunch of soup and sandwiches in the hotel.

Afternoon: A leading London theatre critic considers current trends in Shakespearian productions. Farewell meeting before dinner.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Free time.

Day 10: Program Concludes: London, England

Meals: Breakfast

Breakfast: In the hotel. Some transfers may depart before breakfast.

Morning: Transfers by private car to London Heathrow Airport terminals.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 3,599

Price Per Day:

$ 360 per day
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Meals Included:

8 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches and 6 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Small Group - 24 max
Maximum Number of People in Group: 24

Alveston Manor: 4 nights, Warks

Situated in the heart of Shakespere country, the historic Alveston Manor Hotel is set in its own grounds just 5 minutes walk from all the cultural attractions of Stratford-upon-Avon and retains some 16th century original features. Most bedrooms are in the modern wing.

Radisson Blu Bloomsbury Street: 4 nights, London

Recently completely refurbished and upgraded. Located in Bloomsbury , close to the West End and the British Museum. Nearest underground Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines)

Start City
End City

Giles Ramsay

Giles Ramsay is an independent theatre director and producer who specializes in creating new work with artists in developing countries. He is the Founding Director of the charity Developing Artists, a Fellow of St. Chad’s College, Durham University and Course Leader in Theatre at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He has devised and instructed on Road's Scholar programs since the early 1990's and has run theatre projects in countries ranging from Kosovo to Zimbabwe.

Trip ID#: BesOftRoa

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