A former coaching inn with an A-list guestbook, The Lygon Arms is steeped in history. C&TH’s Ellie Smith checked in to find out why the hotel has stood the test of time.
Review: The Lygon Arms, Cotswolds
It’s rare to find a hotel which still reels in the guests after a whopping 800 years – but the hype surrounding The Lygon Arms shows no sign of slowing. Located in the picturesque town of Broadway – the epitome of honey-stoned Cotswolds charm – the hotel dates back to 1377, though back then it was called The White Hart.
One of the UK’s most historic inns, The Lygon Arms has hosted endless famous faces over the years, from royals to politicians to movie stars. One of the earliest was Oliver Cromwell, who stayed there the night before the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Many years later, The Lygon Arms hosted Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at the height of the scandal surrounding their affair. Even Prince Phillip was once a guest.
By the early 21st century, the hotel was looking a little tired – but in 2015 it was picked up by Iconic Luxury Hotels (the group behind Chewton Glen and Cliveden) and a glamorous makeover ensued, courtesy of designer Anita Rosato. Much of the venue’s original features have been kept – like the beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces – but the interiors have been revamped to create a chic country retreat feel. Think cosy nooks and corners, lounges and comfy sofas, plus antique furniture – some by Gordon Russell, one of the top designers of the 1930s.
Rooms are spread across the main house, courtyard, annex and cottage – the latter being just a short distance from the hotel. All offer a homely feel, with wooden doors and tartan blankets placed alongside more modern, slick bathrooms decked out with Floris products. Book one of the open plan courtyard rooms if you like the idea of overlooking pretty terraced gardens; or soak up the history of the Charles I Suite, where King Charles I stayed before battle during the English Civil War.
The centrepiece of the hotel is the Lygon Bar and Grill, an impressive, high-ceilinged dining room housed in a former ballroom. Large ornate windows and artefacts dotted around the walls pay homage to the hotel’s history, with leather chairs and marble-topped tables adding a contemporary touch. Despite the grandeur it’s a relaxed spot, with a simple menu designed to celebrate local Cotswold farmers and artisans. A hero dish is the Beef Wellington, designed to be shared between two – but it’s not all about the meat: the veggie burger is also a winner, served with guacamole and sweet potato fries. The Emmental soufflé, meanwhile, is a must – and if you have space for something sweet, there’s a particularly delicious sticky toffee pudding.
Around the corner you’ll find a snug lounge bar offering an extensive menu of cocktails, wines and light snacks, which can also be enjoyed al fresco in the courtyard. A traditional afternoon tea is available too, alongside a vegan alternative and a child-friendly option.
This spring, things are about to get even more exciting on the food front thanks to a new partnership with celebrity chef James Martin, with two revamped restaurants set to open at the hotel in March: Grill and Tavern. At Grill, guests can enjoy fish of the day or a steak (both fresh off the grill, of course), while at Tavern it’s all about nibbles and grazing dishes: think elevated sausage rolls, and aubergine with tabbouleh.
No trip to The Lygon Arms is complete without a trip to its opulent spa, complete with a 13-metre swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and steam room. A range of treatments are on offer here, from hot stone massages to facials, with products from brands like Oskia and Elemis.
There’s plenty to explore around the local area too. On the main street you’ll find a charming deli, gift shops, cosy pubs and restaurants, and there are some lovely walks on your doorstep. If you fancy venturing a little further, the ever-beautiful Blenheim Palace is an easy drive away.
THE FINAL WORD
The Lygon Arms finds the perfect balance between luxurious and cosy, with friendly, welcoming staff and a laid-back ambience – ideal for couples or families after a wholesome weekend away in the countryside.