As parents the mid week break is something of a rarity. Back in our 20s and early 30s we’d happily book a couple of days off work and speed out of London, off to Devon, Dorset, Norfolk, Suffolk – anywhere that took our fancy – for a couple of days at a fashionable country inn (Mr & Mrs Smith was on speed dial). Parenthood brings with it many joys, but sadly the midweek break becomes that bit more difficult to arrange – school runs, homework, after school clubs and sports matches mean we’re tied to the school week and even helpful grandparents can’t quite cover it. So we were delighted when our daughter announced there would be a two night school trip in June.
We didn’t want to waste this opportunity, so some serious planning ensued. Mr & Mrs Smith was consulted, along with pet friendly website Pets Pyjamas (sadly dogs don’t go on school trips, so our best friends George and Olive were along for the ride). It had been such a long time coming, this mid week break, it needed to live up to expectations. Swimming pool. Spa. Egyptian linen. Country walks. Highly reviewed restaurant. And all within two hours of London. We also didn’t want to blow the budget so sensible pricing was key.
We’re not silly. We really didn’t think we’d find somewhere that ticked all the boxes and were prepared to compromise on a few of the points. So when a hotel popped up for £225 per night – dinner bed and breakfast – we pretty much fell off our chairs. Tripadvisor was consulted and all the hotel’s claims seemed genuine. Too good to be true, surely?
But no, as it transpired, this place is the real deal: The Lygon Arms in the beautiful Cotswold village of Broadway. Sister hotel to the infamous Chewton Glen and Clivedon, it had serious credentials and some pretty impressive history. Liz Taylor and Richard Burton stayed there in the 1960s, no less. Even Oliver Cromwell had overnighted there before the battle of Worcester.
As part of the Iconic Luxury Hotels group, The Lygon Arms underwent a multimillion-pound refurbishment in 2017. The interior is plush and luxurious, yet in keeping with the building’s historic architecture.
Situated on the high street of Broadway, a honey toned Cotswold town, The Lygon Arms has 86 rooms and acres of gardens which are handy if you have your four legged friends in tow.
As we pulled off the high street, our luggage was whisked away and the car taken off by the parking valet as we were shown through to the wood panelled reception. And this is when we fully appreciated just how dog friendly The Lygon Arms is. Every single member of staff we encountered got down to floor level to greet our dogs. They knew their names in advance (one of the questions we’d been asked when booking) and had pockets full of treats. We’ve been to plenty of ‘dog friendly’ hotels over the years, but none compare to The Lygon Arms. George and Olive had their own beds waiting in the room, with dog bowl, blanket and a stash of poo bags. The 3 acre garden is perfect for a run before bed time and whilst the main restaurant doesn’t allow dogs, a separate breakfast is served in one of the lounges for guests who can’t bear to be parted from their canine friends.
So George and Olive were happy. However despite the beautiful courtyard gardens and interiors, Matt and I were less enamoured with the first room we were shown to – a Deluxe Double in what appeared to be a 1970s wing at the rear of the hotel. Lovely interior but dark and a bit dingy. After a quick chat with reception we were quickly moved to a Junior Suite in the cottage – a lovely thatched building a short walk from the main hotel. This was absolutely perfect.
After checking in we enjoyed an afternoon tea on the terrace, before heading to the Spa for a swim, steam room and jacuzzi (Olive and George stayed in the room!).
We dined in the restaurant both evenings. A huge barrelled ceiling hall, packed with oil paintings and oversized antler chandeliers, this was a perfect spot for people watching and delicious food. The twice baked cheese souffle was my favourite. I opted for vegetarian both evenings, whilst Matt went for brill and lamb. Fresh asparagus, new potatoes and salads made perfect accompaniments, as did a crisp bottle of Chablis.
Broadway is a lovely spot. Full of history, the wide grass-fringed high street has an array of ancient honey coloured limestone buildings dating back to the 16th century. I could understand why every other person had an American accent – this place is a fantastic representation of the quintessential Cotswold village.
With a strong legacy of the Arts and Crafts movement – furniture designer Gordon Russell grew up at The Lygon Arms and had his first workshops there – the place is full of art galleries, including Ashmolean outpost Broadway Museum and Gallery There is also the charming three storey flagship store of furniture brand Oka (co founded by Samantha Cameron’s mother, Viscountess Astor) and endless cafes and tea shops. Our favourite was the Broadway Deli with its colourful tuk tuk and stacks of fresh fruit and veg!
Spa treatments at the hotel were excellent – an Oskia signature facial for me and a massage for Matt. I must admit we didn’t really explore the local area other than a wander down the high street and a visit to the Gordon Russell museum, as the hotel was such a wonderful place to relax. We loved it so much we’re planning to return over Christmas!