This Cotswolds Hotel Dates Back to the 16th Century and Has Hosted Royals and Celebrities Alike

It also has a high-end spa, fine dining, and other luxurious modern amenities.

Exterior facade of Lygon Arms

Courtesy of Lygon Arms

Having grown up in rural farmland, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first visit to the English countryside. That might sound silly, but rolling fields and pastoral landscapes were all I knew as a kid, so I couldn’t help but wonder if the Cotswolds would really feel like an international adventure or just another version of my childhood hometown.

I landed in London on a quintessentially rainy morning and made the two-hour drive to The Lygon Arms, an 86-room hotel in the postcard-perfect village of Broadway. As I arrived at the property, I quickly forgot that I ever had any doubts. The Cotswold-stone exterior set against steel-gray clouds is enough to make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and in some ways, you have.

Lygon Arms lounge with fireplace

Courtesy of Lygon Arms

While the current building dates back to the 16th century, evidence shows that a coaching inn (a resting point for travelers and their horses) stood on the site as early as the 1300s — the kind of longstanding history you can’t find in the U.S. In fact, the property’s backstory gets even more interesting when you look at its ties to the English Civil War, which lasted from 1642 to 1651.

A quick refresher on British history: The war occurred between those loyal to King Charles I and the parliamentarians. The parliamentary forces were led by storied general Oliver Cromwell, who happened to spend the night at the inn before departing for the Battle of Worcester, where he would defeat the king and put an end to the nine-year conflict. The room he occupied is still in use and now aptly named The Cromwell Room.

Ironically, King Charles also stayed at the hotel during the war, just not at the same time as Cromwell, obviously.

The Lygon Arms has hosted a number of other notable guests throughout the years, from royals like King Edward VII to celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor. The winding hallways and creaky floorboards hold some fascinating stories, but the property is also perfectly attuned to the present.

Interior of guestroom at Lygon Arms

Samantha Lauriello

In 2017, massive renovations brought the 500-year-old inn into the 21st century. Now, exposed-beam ceilings and wood-paneled walls are accompanied by stunning antique and period furniture and tasteful tartan textiles. Guest rooms are complete with original art and handmade mattresses. And a pristine three-acre private garden awaits out back. The old and new combine to create an atmosphere that exudes both tradition and relevance.

One of the property’s most noteworthy modern amenities is its spa and leisure club. It features an Instagram-worthy indoor pool with a retractable roof, a sauna and steam room, a nail bar, and various treatment rooms. Guests can also sign up for classic English activities, including archery, clay shooting, and falconry.

Although, there is one Cotswolds pastime that stands out as the main attraction: walking. It’s hard to beat a stroll in the countryside, through rippling hills and dusty lanes where you’re almost certain to come across sheep and horses grazing on the sprawling greenery. There are several walks that depart right from Broadway, making The Lygon Arms an ideal jumping-off point.

The Lygon Arms entrance and surrounding landscape

Samantha Lauriello

Plus, after a day of walking, there’s no better way to recover than with a glass of wine by one of the hotel’s many fireplaces — this became my daily routine. Once I sat long enough for the chill to leave my body (and the wine to take the edge off), I would mosey into the dining room at The Lygon Bar & Grill, which aims to be a “celebration of all things Cotswolds” with local ingredients and seasonal dishes.

The beef Wellington is, of course, a must-try for a taste of local culture. The grill even has a vegetarian beetroot and feta Wellington for those steering clear of meat. The menu also includes dishes like pumpkin ravioli, market vegetable soup, and roast chicken breast — wholesome plates that pair well with an active vacation.

Dining hall at Lygon Arms

Courtesy of Lygon Arms

Between the delicious meals, meditative walks, luxurious spa visits, and intriguing history lessons, I was more than impressed by my first visit to the Cotswolds. Sure, my backcountry hometown may have some similarities, but nothing that compares to the decidedly English experience that is The Lygon Arms.

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