Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published August 22nd 2020
Luxury stays and afternoon tea in Cotswolds
It's an area renowned for its beautiful scenery, lavender fields and as a haven for the rich and famous. Here is a guide to why the Cotswolds - and Broadway in particular - should be on your staycation list.
Going to the Cotswolds instantly transports you to another world. The pretty yellow stone buildings and village life are steeped in history and with an array of independent shops, spas, fine restaurants and pubs, there's always plenty to do.
It's only around 90 minutes to 2 hours reach from London, Birmingham and Bristol because this region in the heart of the country. It has an enchanting, relaxed feel to it enhanced by its famous afternoon tea and old fashioned country pubs.
Royals, supermodels and Hollywood stars have all flocked to the Cotswolds including Kate Moss and Jamie Dornan. It spans a large area and this guide focuses on the northwestern part of the Cotswolds, where you will find the exquisite village of Broadway.
Settle into relaxing Broadway life in the Lygon Arms lounge
Right in the centre of Broadway is the prominent Lygon Arms. This luxurious 600-year-old hotel was originally a coaching inn back in the 1300s on the main route from London to Wales. Horses would be rested here overnight while passengers slept and the historic building has remnants of that from stone fireplaces to wood panelling and stunning leaded windows.
There's history peeping out of every corner. After all, this is the place where Oliver Cromwell stayed before the Battle of Worcester and King Charles I walked these corridors to meet his followers.
The bedrooms are luxurious in the historic Lygon Arms
In more recent times, Hollywood royalty has chosen to stay at The Lygon Arms and make the most of their four-poster beds, including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
The hotel had a makeover in 2016 but still maintains that old world charm alongside modern facilities and features that bring it up to date for the 21st Century, along with it being dog friendly. There's nooks and crannies everywhere to relax in communal lounges that feel private and enchanting.
With The Lygon Arms being so central to the community, it has a strong relationship with local farmers and butchers with its hearty breakfasts and meals in the bar and grill all using locally sourced, fresh food. That includes locally grown asparagus from Evesham when it's in season.
Since the Coronavirus outbreak, the hotel has introduced measures to help residents feel even safer. Everyone is temperature checked before entering the premises, all the staff wear masks, there is hand sanitiser everywhere and tables have been spaced out further. That includes those outside in the courtyard and the new super stylish Champagne Garden serving Veuve Clicquot.
Guests can even opt to buy a prepared picnic basket to take away and lounge in these fragrant and private gardens. If you want to stay at the Lygon Arms, rooms start from £185 per night from the hotel website here.
BROADWAY SHOPPING AND SIGHTS
Broadway is full of charm and has the iconic Broadway Tower to walk up to for a stunning viewpoint. There's also nearby National Trust premises like unique Snowshill Manor and Gardens.
If you are visiting in June and the summer months, you can time it to see the Cotswolds Lavender fields at Snowshill in full bloom. But whatever the time of year, you'll find the famous lavender products on sale across this proud region.
The main high street is lined with clothes, book and kitchenware shops plus tearooms, restaurants plus stores that foodies will adore. Gourmet grocery Broadway Deli features organic and locally grown produce along with irresistible cheeses, pickles, sauces and chocolates. It's a treasure trove for anyone who likes their food.
Further along the main street, there is chocolate shop Hamiltons to indulge in sweet treats. While Tisanes Tea Rooms offers an array of jams and teas to take home with you as well as enjoy over a quick tea break inside.
Stunning architecture and stone walls around every corner in Broadway
Families should head to Rikki Tikki - an enchanting toy shop with traditional wooden toys, books, models and everything to keep a child content. Then there is OKO full of lavish home furnishings, Landmark for outdoorwear and a wealth of gift, jewellery, antique and clothes shops.
Make sure you don't miss independent bookshop, Blandford Books, with its wide range of fiction, non-fiction and children's books along with a gorgeous room full of cards, wrapping paper and other stationery.
Afternoon tea is one of the delights of the Cotswolds and it feels quintessentially British to be relaxing over three tiers of sandwiches, scones and cakes - maybe even with a glass of bubbly?
A luxurious afternoon tea to remember at The Lygon Arms
The Lygon Arms offers a luxurious version with fluffy scones, finger sandwiches and dainty cakes, which you can take either in the majesty of the tearoom or outside in the elegant courtyard.
The Lygon Afternoon Tea costs £25 per person or upgrade to include champagne from £35, but reserve a table in advance at the Lygon Arms website here. There's even a doggy menu so your pooch can enjoy treats while you do.
Finely cut sandwiches include fresh smoked salmon, ham and cream cheese but the cakes are the piece de resistance with ingenuity behind the flavours. There's adorable Gin & Tonic cakes with a slice of cucumber perched on top, made with real gin and fevertree tonic plus cucumber juice. A refreshing mouthful in every bite.
Comfort food comes in the shape of a gooey brownie and bramwell tarts while there's a creamy and light strawberry mouse in a shot glass to cleanse the palate.
Inventive cakes and even lemon curd with the scones at the Lygon Arms
Within its old stone walls and wooden beamed ceiling it serves high-quality traditional fare and an excellent Sunday lunch. On its a la carte menu you'll find dishes like Lobster Thermidor, Poached Megrim Sole, Steak and Pea Risotto for between £20 and £34.
Russells has also got seven rooms with the restaurants if you want to combine a meal with an overnight stay.
It also runs and fish and chip shop next door for a more casual lunch or dinner but a dine-in fish supper that is more extravagant than your usual local chippie. This is the Cotswolds, after all.
Further down the main street is The Swan Pub for a range of unfussy gastro pub dining or there is the Broadway Indian Restaurant for something spicier.
From food to fashion, walking to wellbeing, there's plenty to keep visitors busy in Broadway - an area accustomed to attracting and entertaining tourists from around the world. With staycations on the rise, maybe more British people will now have time to discover the luxury and history that this enchanting Cotswold region offers too.