On paper, The Lygon Arms in Broadway has managed to combine the best elements of Danny’s and my winter dream locations; Danny’s being a cosy pub with rooms and a roaring fire, mine a boutique hotel with excellent food and wine accompanied by some beautiful scenery.
The Lygon Arms has quite a long history dating back to the 1300s and a rather glamorous clientele over the centuries; Oliver Cromwell, King Charles I, Prince Philip and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor have all stayed here. Most recently, Iconic Hotels from Cliveden House and Chewton Glen fame, acquired what for all accounts and purposes, was a rather run down hotel in The Lygon Arms back in 2015. An extensive renovation was completed in August 2017, shortly after it became a Mr & Mrs Smith hotel and made it’s way onto my executive “Hotels I Need to Stay At” list.
Why I Love The Cotswolds
Danny and I love the Cotswolds, it is firmly interwoven into the history of our relationship (we even got married at Slaughters Manor in October 2018) and is the halfway point between our families in Nottingham and Somerset.
The opportunity to stay arose as we were, for the first time, not going away together to a far flung destination at the beginning of January, as we had only returned from our honeymoon at the end of October.
My annual leave strategy (which is basically to book time off around bank holidays to maximise time off for minimum holiday entitlement) still meant that it made sense for us to be off work and I (for the first time in my career) was given the opportunity to be off between Christmas and New Year. Danny has enforced holiday during this time so it was all working splendidly, but with a 2.5 week exotic holiday off the cards, what were we to do?
Well I decided to continue the trend of firsts and used my first three days to sort out everything at home that had stacked up in the run up to the wedding and the chaotic work hurricane that had ensued as I tried to catch up after the holiday, before then falling head first into the absolute war zone of retail logistics in the run up to Christmas.
The next three days was then spent in Somerset with my family for “Christmas Round 2” as we had spent the day itself this year with Danny’s family in Nottingham. From there we decided to extend our wedding fun a bit longer and embark on a Cotswolds adventure named our mini moon! Ét voilá, a perfect excuse to test out The Lygon Arms.
Top Tip: Do not confuse this hotel with The Lygon Arms in nearby Chipping Camden, a mistake I have heard has led many to book or turn up to the wrong hotel!
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Arriving in Broadway
It was dark by the time we got to Broadway, but the High Street was magically lit with fairy lights as we drove up towards the hotel. We had wandered through the town a few years ago and I was wondering how we had missed an 86 room hotel smack bang in the heart of the village, but we managed to do it again.
Eventually, after a couple of three point turns, we pulled up outside a quintessentially Cotswolds honey coloured building with a nice clear sign saying “THE LYGON ARMS” and (thank the lord) valet parking; I did not fancy our chances at finding the car park (both the valet service and car parking are complimentary by the way).
The hotel was still dressed for Christmas with twinkly fairy lights and a beautiful, seasonal floral arrangement framing the door. Walking in feels like coming home, flagstone floors and a labyrinth of living rooms (referred to as the “Lygon Lounges”) with crackling fires and plush sofas that you just want to throw yourself into (the sofas, not the fires). The walls are painted navy with oak panelling, which coupled with the smaller sized rooms could be oppressive, however the high beamed ceiling, flattering lighting and warm fabrics keep the overall vibe most definitely in the warm and cosy arena.
Check in is a seamless affair, someone parks our car while another shows us to our room.
Top Tip: I booked our hotel through the luxury hotel website Mr & Mrs Smith. They have a beautifully curated selection of boutique hotels that never fail to disappoint, along with a best price guarantee and a Mr & Mrs Smith ” Extra” with every booking. For this stay, we got a 3 nights for 2 deal along with a complimentary half of bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates.
A Junior Suite at the Lygon Arms
There are 6 tiers of room; Cosy, Classic and Deluxe Rooms and then Junior, Courtyard and Master Suites. One of the three Master Suites is named the Charles I suite as it is where King Charles stayed the night in 1649 before battle in the English Civil War and a coat of arms still sits above the fireplace.
We, however, have opted for the safe middle ground of a Junior Suite. The oak panelled doors still had a latch system to open, which when coupled with a room key swipe system can be a little tricky to operate without two hands free, but I think are a lovely, traditional touch. Who needs two hands anyway, when your lovely host is carrying your bags.
In our room is a stunning four poster bed covered with scatter cushions in a range of tweed fabrics, a sofa bed, Gordon Russell antique furniture, beamed ceilings and the original fireplace (boarded up, so not for use).
The bathroom is large with a separate bath and powerful rain shower with twin sinks and a heated towel rail (I love a warm towel when I get out of the shower!). The styling of the room is traditional but with a modern twist so is not stuffy, and the result is a luxurious, relaxed and cosy environment. We also have a Nespresso coffee machine, so it’s ticking all the boxes for me!
We sleep fabulously every night, the king sized bed is supremely comfy, however one of the perils of staying in a 600 year old coaching inn is the creaking floorboards and the people staying above us have the grace of a herd of elephants.
Interestingly I heard a few people complain about the noise during our stay, however if I’m being honest, I can’t see how you can retain the charm of somewhere like this and ensure all modern luxuries, but I did understand the frustration. Myself, and Danny to an extent, are heavy sleepers so it does not interfere in the slightest with getting a fantastic night’s sleep.
Related Post: A Guide to The Cotswolds Village of Broadway in the UK
We head back to the main hotel to find a location for a pre-dinner drink and settle on the small cocktail bar sat at the back of the hotel restaurant. Danny has a Cotswolds Fashioned that is delicious, my first choice of a Lemon & Basil Martini is off the menu due to a basil shortage (which continues until the last evening of our stay when I managed to have one, it was gorgeous!). I settle for a Lychee & Rose Champagne Bellini which is also excellent and we sit back and relax in a couple of deep armchairs.
Dinner at the Lygon Bar & Grill
We have a dinner reservation at the hotel restaurant, the not particularly imaginatively named Lygon Bar & Grill. The restaurant is beautiful though, large and with more modern touches in the marble tables and tan leather booths lining the room, but still in keeping with the rest of the hotel with the same navy walls, oak panelling and traditional art lining the walls. The centre pieces are the huge roaring fire in the inglenook fireplace and two tiered stag chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
Chandeliers are my favourite interior décor feature and this is one even Danny can get on board with, we have found the lighting feature for his dream study! We have our choice of table, I go for one of the three tables for two people in the small gallery at the top overlooking the restaurant. We are taken through a small lounge and up a flight of stairs, it’s a bit darker up there but we are up close with those stunning chandeliers!
Related Post: Luxury Hotel Review of Slaughters Manor in The Cotswolds
The menu is small but with enough variation to keep the vast majority happy; I opt for the cheese soufflé to start while Danny has lamb breast. For main I have a Thai style seafood salad (I like to aim for trying all three courses, but in order not to stuff myself have a starter size for main) and Danny the fillet of beef with fries and a simple but gorgeous rocket and Parmesan salad.
My food was very good, however we both tried Danny’s steak and it was average at best; cooked rare as he likes it but just not melt in your mouth as you would expect a fillet steak at that price point. Despite best intentions and also as we had eaten a lot over the Christmas festivities, dessert was not calling to me!
Side Note: This hotel has an automatically applied discretionary 12.5% service charge on dining services and spa treatments. It can be controversial, but it riles me a little when I come across places that do this (in the UK, I understand the pay structure in the USA is different).
I like to decide what the service is worth and pay that amount accordingly and I personally very rarely go above 10% (in the UK). My expectation is service is a given and is included in the cost of a meal and only when I feel it is exceptional do I then give more.
I think that a restaurant is setting themselves up to fail, because guess what, if you’re putting 12.5% additional on my bill, your service needs to be flawless. More often than not however, my expectations on this is not met and unfortunately the Lygon Bar & Grill falls into this category.
Our waitress was lovely, polite and friendly but just not either trained or experienced enough to deliver good service (there appeared to be more than adequate staff to diner ratio, so it wasn’t that they were struggling to cover all the tables).
We had to go over to the station to grab water jugs to refill our water, the bottle of wine we ordered was left in a bucket out of the way of the table and we refilled our own wine, we had to ask for a steak knife which never arrived and she came over and asked us how our meals were before we had even put our napkins on our lap, before then proceeding to watch us try a mouthful of everything and confirm we were happy with it before leaving us again…. I wouldn’t have really had an issue with any of this had there been no expected service charge.
Unless I think an issue is truly poor, I will just get on and sort it myself, I’m having dinner out with my husband and my intention is to enjoy it. As the 12.5% charge had been very clearly communicated before I booked my stay and I had chosen to eat in the restaurant regardless, we decide to just pay it (I know, a very British thing to do!) and go and snuggle up in one of the many Lygon Lounges with a glass of wine.
Breakfast at The Lygon Bar & Grill
Breakfast can be taken either in the grill or in a larger lounge area towards the back of the hotel (the staff can direct you, I just walked around until I found my ideal location) and there is a widespread continental selection to choose from as well as a cooked breakfast option.
We started every day with some superb cappuccinos and during our stay we tried a range of breakfast dishes; the French toast with maple syrup and cremé fraiche that is beyond delicious, poached eggs with avocado and chilli on toast (perfectly cooked eggs), whereby Danny has a ham and cheese omelette that he declares average.
We find another Lygon Lounge to have a second coffee and a relax in; this one is lined with bridles and saddles and reminds me of my Grandma’s tack room as a child. We also stumble across a rainbow display of Hunter wellies for guests to borrow on the obligatory country walk (we have brought our own, although I wouldn’t mind trying the plum coloured ones).
Lygon Arms Spa & Gym
The hotel also has a fairly amazing gym and spa hidden away at the back of the courtyard; I had a lovely swim, steam and sauna one morning when I woke up early. There is also a jacuzzi at the end of the 13 metre pool on a raised platform and a glass retractable roof which I imagine is pretty blissful in the summer. There are set times for children’s swimming which I chose to avoid so the area was very quiet. I treated myself to a personalised massage as well, blissful but in all honestly I’ve had better for the price point.
Final Thoughts: The Lygon Arms Hotel in Broadway
The décor and vibe is absolutely spot on in my opinion; warm, cosy and inviting, absolutely perfect for a winter break and just magical around Christmas. I loved curling up on the sofa in front of a roaring fire with a coffee in the morning and my wine in the evening. Our Junior Suite was also luxurious and spacious with great amenities such as the Nespresso machine, snacks and in room iPad.
I was not so keen on the inconsistency in the quality of the food in the restaurant, some was great, some was average. The service was hit and miss (in the restaurant only, the service in the hotel itself was great) and all the more scrutiny was placed on it due to the automatically applied 12.5% service charge.
Need to Know
The hotel is dog friendly! There was lots of them around while we were there but all remarkably well behaved. Broadway is a small town with everything within walking distance of the hotel should you feel the need to leave the hotel.
Address: High Street, Broadway, WR12 7DU
Phone: 01386 852255
– You can book The Lygon Arms through Mr & Mrs Smith, a website of beautifully curated boutique hotels.
– Alternatively, you can view and book The Lygon Arms with Booking.com, Agoda or Hotels.com.
– You can check out my full list of tried, tested and recommended Travel Resources here.