Jewel in the Crown
Broadway in Worcestershire is arguably the most lovely of the Cotswolds villages - and we know exactly where you should be staying.
A girl cannot spend all her time in her county, right? Break through the barricades, I’m making a dash for the utter Cotswoldian gorgeousness of The Lygon Arms in Broadway, Worcestershire’s jewel in the crown.
Imagine the prettiest Cotswold village of your dreams – medieval honey-stone houses, quaint shop fronts, and more sugar-coated loveliness than a Richard Curtis movie, and it’s odds on you’ve just conjured up Broadway in the Worcestershire Cotswolds.
Resplendent on the ‘broad way’ (er, high street to you and me) sits The Lygon Arms, a predominantly Tudor stunner of a hotel that plays heavily on its historic charm, particularly from the Civil War period – Oliver Cromwell stayed here the night before the Battle of Worcester in 1651; or should you still feel strongly about the royalist cause, you can also sleep in the room where Charles I and his supporters would meet.
The hotel spreads out across several buildings on the pavement, and surprisingly for such a central location, the hotel offers 3 acres of perfectly manicured grounds out the back, along with its own spa with 13 metre pool and 86 bedrooms of various shapes and sizes. Refurbed just two years ago when it was down on its luck and taken over by Iconic Hotels and their deep pockets, it’s now been returned to its glory days.
Refined and elegant and actually surprisingly intimate given the size of the hotel – plenty of nooks, crannies, snugs and private spaces in which to unwind, including the courtyard where my friend and I had some pre-dinner bubbles on our first night amongst the olive trees.
It feels quite grown up here, perhaps because I didn’t see any children during my stay, though actually when you dig around a bit the hotel is actually very child-friendly – kids go free in school holidays, and there are special children’s menus and swimming timetabled for them too, plus early evening movies and various themed afternoon teas.
There’s a definite calm to this hotel that is quietly intoxicating, and the interior styling assists this with its muted colour palette, wooden settles and ye olde portraiture and careful lighting. Everywhere you turn it’s Instagram catnip.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The Lygon Bar and Grill in The Great Hall, with its vaulted ceiling and wood panelling galore, is where you’ll most likely eat dinner, and is also where you take breakfast. It was very buzzy on the night we ate here which was great – I guess with 86 rooms you’re going to have a large take up for dinner on site but that’s a big advantage, I can’t stand grand dining rooms that are near empty.
Though the Bar and Grill is described as informal, the setting is actually quite restauranty with an extravagant central antler chandelier and a huge wall covered with portraits. I was catching up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in ages so I was totally up for that, and I loved the but if you’re after a more drop-in type meal (and want to bring your dog with you) you can order sandwiches, chips, burgers and the like at the Lygon Lounges, or head to the Wine Bar for some casual Italian bites.
Anyway back to dinner. I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel or challenge the kitchen here, because I was desperate for a steak – kind of handy at a grill. The lights were dimmed pretty heavily in the room for the evening, but I could still make out a fine looking 30 days dry aged 10oz Waghorne’s Ribeye steak, cooked a little rare for my taste but still delicious, with guilt-free (nearly) skin-on fries and a peppercorn sauce that had just the kick I craved. If you’re veggie or vegan though, there’s a dedicated menu for you too.
Dessert was a rhubarb crumble with clotted cream, though I barely needed it after my mains and a bottle of wine – maybe the iced honeycomb parfait or elderflower marinated strawberries would have been a more sensible option. But, you know, I was wearing my food reviewing trousers and that expandable waist always leads me into trouble.
There are a huge choice of rooms here – from cosy rooms to master suites, cottage deluxe rooms to courtyard suites. I stayed in a ‘classic’ room which was attractive in a traditional kind of way, but not knockout – if you’re planning a stay here, the best room in the house is definitely the recently renovated Charles Master Suite (above) with its four poster – a Coat of Arms sits above the traditional fireplace to mark his royal visit.
If you have kids the ground floor Courtyard Suites are also lovely (above), with sofa beds, or interconnecting rooms. There are also several Cottage Suites, set apart from the main hotel, including the recently refurbished The Cottage Suite which has it’s own private garden and terrace.
The pooch posse are taken seriously here too – there are various dog friendly rooms with dog bed, treats and dog bowls for food and water, a ‘wash down’ station in the courtyard to clean your dog after walkies, and even a pamper parlour service with collection and return to the hotel. Really? You would?!
I hadn’t clocked that The Lygon Arms had a proper spa, so hadn’t brought my swimmers but in the interests of being nosey went to check it out anyway. The spa here isn’t as flash as sister hotels Chewton Glen in Hants or The Cliveden in Berkshire, but it’s still a fantastic facility to have on site – the swimming pool has a retractable roof, and there are the usual sauna, steam room, fitness room extras, plus treatment rooms for pretty much whatever suits you.
OUT & ABOUT
You just need to step outside your front door to sort your first day away – Broadway’s high street is one of the longest in England and you’ll meander its length pleasantly, dipping into Number 32 or the immensely cool Broadway Deli for a coffee.
The stunning Sudeley Castle (home of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s final wife, who survived her king) is 8 miles away, Warwick and the RSC is 15 miles, Worcester Cathedral 20 miles, and it’s also worth mentioning the 37 mile distance to Bicester Village in our neck of the woods – because if you book an overnighter in a Junior, Courtyard or Master Suite, you get access to the private Bicester Village Apartment, VIP parking, hands free shopping, and 10% savings. Worth knowing, right?
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Cotswolds, heritage and history lovers – you’re in the perfect place to explore the prettiest Cotswoldian parts of Oxon, Glos, Warks and Worcs. The pretty gardens and child-friendly touches make this a surprisingly good choice for families during school holidays (there’s Pumpkin picking and Halloween afternoon tea in half term) though outside of holidays kids might find the ambiance a little grown-up.
Not for: Super-modernists. The Lygon Arms is beautifully appointed, but its Tudor originals means its plays its trump card of tradition over trends, and that reflects in its interiors.
The Lygon Arms, High Street, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7DU. Tel: 01386 852 255.