Travelers have been checking into The Lygon Arms Hotel in the Cotswolds since the 14th century. And not just any Tom, Dick or Harry either: During the English Civil War, King Charles I and his crew hung out here, as did his archenemy Oliver Cromwell. A few hundred years later, King Edward VII rested here, and his son Edward VIII, who abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, is also in the guest book. If you want to immerse yourself in English history, this is the place to start.
You can even request to sleep in the Cromwell Room, so named because — you guessed it — it’s where Oliver Cromwell once napped. Don’t worry, the sheets have since been changed. And so has a whole lot else.
Recent changes have been dramatic. Under the new ownership of Iconic Luxury Hotels, who also own CB! favorite Chewton Glen in the UK’s New Forest, The Lygon Arms has had a multi-million-pound makeover. As a result, it embodies all you could want of a luxury rural retreat without sacrificing any of its historic features.
Don’t do what we did, though. We drove up to the wrong Lygon Arms Hotel — there are two in the Cotswolds within a few miles of each other. The other one looked charming, but the one you want is in Broadway, an upmarket little village packed with old-world toy shops, gift shops, fashion boutiques, pubs and restaurants. It’s also the starting point of several walking trails into the surrounding picture-postcard (or should we now say Instagram-worthy) English countryside.
With a series of lounges, bars and restaurants arranged around an inner courtyard typical of ancient English coaching inns, stepping into The Lygon Arms cuts you off from your other life. It made us and the kids and the dog immediately relax, ready to enjoy everything this special weekend was going to throw at us.
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Talking of the mutt, Domino, this is one of the most dog-friendly hotels we have ever stayed in. It even has some dog-friendly eating areas — rare in UK hotels. The waiter took our order, then brought a bowl of water and biscuit for Domino and full afternoon tea for the rest of us. It being close to Halloween, the children’s afternoon tea consisted of oranges carved into jack o’lanterns and filled with fruit, and spooky cakes. Ours featured the traditional finger sandwiches, scones and patisserie — yummy.
Dinner was just as delicious. Domino limited us to supping in a lounge, but if you do get a chance to dine within the incredible minstrel-galleried Lygon Bar and Grill, you must. You’ll find sophisticated versions of English favorites on the menu, like bubble and squeak (Google it) and ale-battered cod and chips, plus more contemporary additions such as butternut squash and goat’s cheese risotto.
The rooms are a skillful mix of all mod cons and 21st-century comfort, beautiful pattern, texture and antique furniture. Domino was provided with her own bed and bowls. The bathrooms are wonderful with roomy showers, deep bathtubs and the fluffiest of towels. We didn’t spend long enough here to enjoy the room, though. Before we’d even finished the thoughtful welcome snacks, the kids had donned the mini robes they’d found on their sofa bed and were pleading to go swimming.
Luckily, we could satisfy their desires, as there is a dreamy spa onsite complete with spacious pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and gym. The treatment rooms are fab too. I know because I snuck in a fantastic massage.
If you arrive in the UK school holidays there is a bookable kids’ club with arts and crafts, sports and games on offer, plus a children’s cinema club and pizza making lessons — all of which will give you a chance to make the most of the spa.
The gardens are lovely too. They were still in full flower despite it being October and not at all muddy, although there was a dog wash in the courtyard should Domino have needed a hose-down. And there was a selection of Hunter Wellington boots available to borrow in sizes to fit all of us. We booted up and headed out to walk to Capability Brown’s Folly Tower. For those of you not in the know, Capability Brown, born in the 18th century, is England’s most famous landscape gardener.
If you want to venture further afield, The Lygon Arms is also a great base to explore the rest of the Cotswolds and Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon.
Editor’s Note: Anna received a media package to review The Lygon Arms Hotel for families. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by The Lygon Arms Hotel and Anna Tobin.
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