The Lygon Arms: inside the historic spa hotel that’s home to a celeb chef’s restaurant

Head of Digital, Amy Moore, heads to the Cotswords to review The Lygon Arms.

The Lygon Arms review, Broadway

If walls could talk, those of The Lygon Arms would certainly have a few stories to tell.

Originally a 14th-century coaching inn, now a four-star hotel in the heart of the Cotswolds, The Lygon Arms has seen a number of famous faces over the years. King Charles I is rumoured to have met with his supporters here in the 1600s, while Oliver Cromwell stayed in the hotel the night before engaging in the Battle of Worcester – an event that would set the stage for his republican rule.

In more recent memory, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton spent time here during the height of their affair in the 60s. Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, Pierce Brosnan and even Prince Phillip are all reported to have passed through The Lygon Arms’ doors too. Quite the guest list.

The location

The hotel is set in the picture-perfect village of Broadway. Here, pretty wisteria-adorned stone cottages line the main high street. If you’re seeking a chocolate box location – this is it.

While the village is relatively small, there’s plenty to occupy a few days, with an array of boutique shops, independent cafes and eateries to enjoy. Plus, what would a village in the Cotswolds be without a pub? The good news is that there are several to choose from here – The Swan Inn, in particular, is well worth a look.

But, if more activity calls, there’s plenty to explore. Located close to the Worcestershire hills in an Area of Outstanding Beauty, Broadway is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area. Broadway Tower is an active four-mile walk from the hotel, boasting beautiful views and the chance to bump into the resident red deer, while Batsford Arboretum is a only short drive away. Perfect for green-fingered gardeners, this 60-acre space is home to some of the world’s rarest trees.

First impressions

The service at The Lygon Arms is truly exceptional, with top-tier service beginning before you even step inside. A valet service on arrival makes light work of parking the car, with friendly staff on hand to assist with any heavy bags.

You get a real sense of the hotel’s history as soon as you step through the front door. With all the rustic charm of an old tavern (think stone walls, wooden beams and flagstone flooring), the entrance opens out into a seating area, complete with cosy nooks, comfortable couches and soft lighting. It’s easy to imagine some of the secret conversations that have been had here over a brandy or two by the hotel’s famous guests. Good news, then, that the bar is nearby, with staff on hand to make a chosen aperitif.

Check-in is swift and straightforward, with the helpful team providing plenty of information to enjoy the hotel, Broadway and the surrounding area. From here, it’s onto the room to get settled in.

The bedroom

I stay in a Courtyard Open Plan Suite – an expansive ground-floor room, complete with a small patio area. With plenty of privacy-giving foliage but still offering views of the hotel courtyard, it’s easy to imagine a dreamy summer’s evening spent here, a glass of something sparkling in hand.

The main bedroom is spacious, and is complimentary to its surroundings, decorated in cool grey tones, reminiscent of the stone walls in the main building. Wooden furniture and burgundy notes weave throughout the room, giving a warm, cosy feel.

The main highlight of the room is its sheer size. It features a king-sized bed, comfy seating area and plenty of storage space for unloading belongings. Likewise, the bathroom is a generous size, complete with a bath and walk-in shower, and complimentary toiletries from British-made brand, Noble Isle.

Inside the spa

The hotel spa is small but never feels overly busy (even though there’s plenty of buzz in the hotel).

The 14m swimming pool is perfect for fitting in a few lengths after a leisurely day exploring Broadway. Plus, the retractable roof makes it a great place to cool down on warm summer days.

For those looking to relax, there are a number of loungers around the pool for reclining or, alternatively, head to the jacuzzi to ease aching muscles. There’s also a unisex steam room located next to the pool, with saunas in each of the changing rooms.

The real highlight of the spa, however, is its extensive treatment menu. I opt for a facial and am truly impressed. After a quick consultation with my massage therapist to discuss any skincare concerns, we decide upon a facial that will help to brighten my skin, while targeting the appearance of any fine lines.

The hour-long treatment is comprehensive, with products helping to renew the skin and promote collagen production. Plus, there’s plenty of massage too – my hands, arms, shoulders and head all receive attention. Cooling gua sha crystals glide over my face to complete the treatment, taking with them the last of any lingering tension.

The effects of the facial are immediate – any puffiness under my eyes and jawline vanishes, giving a much more sculpted, glowing appearance. With my self-esteem feeling top-notch, it’s time for a quick freshen up before dinner.

Dining at the Lygon Arms

The main restaurant at The Lygon Arms is arguably one of its main draws. The GRILL by celebrity chef, James Martin, attracts a number of guests looking to sample his delicious – yet incredibly hearty – cuisine.

The restaurant has a fun buzz to it – helped, in part, by its impressive surroundings. A tall vaulted ceiling dominates the room, with rustic portraits and landscape scenes adorning the walls. Plus, it all resides under the window where Oliver Cromwell addressed his men before battle in 1651.

An impressive space but, with a smart-casual dress code, GRILL feels informal and friendly. You won’t find a hint of stuffiness here.

The menu features tempting dishes to suit every palate, with vegan and vegetarian options available alongside meat and fish dishes.

I opt for smoked salmon to start, with toasted capers, shallots, watercress and crème fraîche, served alongside rye toast. A delicious – albeit filling – way to kick things off, followed by an equally enormous bowl of mussels, served with chips and even more bread. It’s safe to say I’m stuffed – and sadly no room for pudding.

The dishes here aren’t cheap, with starters ranging from £12 to £22, and mains from £23. But, rest assured that you certainly won’t leave feeling hungry.

Not forgetting breakfast

Guests can also enjoy breakfast in the GRILL, with a buffet laden with fruits, yoghurts and pastries. There are also cold cuts and cheeses for those who prefer a protein-rich start to the day (à la Liz).

Plus, there’s a tempting choice of cooked foods to order off the menu. Never one to resist a poached egg, I order Eggs Florentine, and wolf down perfectly cooked eggs topped with spinach and creamy hollandaise.

Feeling well-fed and truly rested, checkout comes all too soon. I hope it’s not too long before I can return.

Find out more about The Lygon Arms

Read more features like this