The Lygon Arms in Broadway, Worcestershire, unveiled its multimillion-pound refurbishment in autumn 2017. Rosalind Mullen goes behind the scenes at this iconic Cotswold hotel, which will host the Acorn Awards next month
Need to know
This 16th-century coaching inn has seen a number of structural changes, many during the 20th century. The leading 1930s designer Sir Gordon Russell, for instance, created a wing of guest rooms and the barrel-vaulted restaurant, a nod to the Arts and Crafts movement. Then in the 1960s, a more controversial extension added 18 rooms.
So, the building acquired by property investment company L+R in January 2016 was somewhat architecturally disjointed. To create harmony, Anita Rosato Interior Design was appointed with a brief to retain the property's diverse heritage, yet enable guests to feel they are in the same hotel.
ogether, the refurbishment has created 86 newly designed bedrooms and suites - up from 78 - that retain 600 years of character yet add contemporary luxury and technology. The spa has been refreshed and two new restaurants, the Lygon Bar & Grill and Lygon Wine Bar, have been launched.
Today, the Lygon Arms sits within L+R's Iconic Luxury Hotels portfolio, headed by executive director Andrew Stembridge. Sister properties include Chewton Glen and Cliveden House.
Anita Rosato Design set out to meet the expectations of a luxury hotel while respecting the inn's heritage - and avoiding pastiche.
"For the purists, we worked hard with the local heritage team to ensure that very little of the original fabric of the building was touched in an invasive way. Where it was necessary to enhance the guest experience via the addition of new bathrooms, crooked beams and items identified by the heritage team as being of great sensitivity were retained and worked around," explains Rosato.
"We have taken the Lygon Arms back to where it belongs. No surface is straight or even, doorways lean at odd angles, floors pitch and swell; it is wonderful, rich with character and heritage, and it is the sort of place that makes you say 'Wow'."
The main challenge was resolving how to meld the jarring architectural periods and styles to look as though they belonged to each other. One solution was to commission bespoke carpets to run throughout and complement the architecture. The bedrooms have an acanthus leaf pattern with four background colours that work with each scheme. This pattern has then been developed into an elegant fleur de lys that runs through the public areas.
e rearrangement of the ground floor public areas has created numerous lounges that allow guests to sit wherever they feel comfortable, whether that is in the Saddle Room, Corner Lounge or Inglenook Lounge, and to make of it what they will. They can dine there, take afternoon tea or simply relax.
"The designs have been developed to create a luxury experience for the guest, where in recent years the hotel had completely lost its way," says Rosato. "The feel is traditional, yet young, cosmopolitan and quirky. Country chic in a charming old building."
The art and artefacts
The team drew on famous past visitors, such as King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, for design inspiration and brought to centre stage the Lygon Arms' collection of antiques and original furniture, such as the Sir Gordon Russell pieces.
"We have refreshed and reupholstered items, moved them into different areas and sourced new antique and eclectic pieces from antique dealers, markets and fairs, mixing pieces in so that they look as though they have always belonged," says Rosato.
In what Rosato describes as "a mammoth task", the hotel's paintings, photographs and prints were regrouped into themes, such as landscapes, litho-prints, flora and fauna, and horses, then rehung so guests can see important pieces together.
The public areas
On the ground floor, which is a maze of snug public rooms, the colour scheme is tan saddle leather contrasted with deep blue, racing car green and steely grey. Inspired by country life, the look is accessorised with antler chandeliers and prints of local life.
A new bar area with dark bottle-green walls and tan leather banquettes draws visitors in, while the Great Hall with panelling, minstrels' gallery and barrel-vaulted ceiling has been warmed up with indirect lighting, reclaimed original oak floors and fabulous but discreet LED lamps at each of the new Arabescato marble dining tables.
Rosato concedes that the use of striking, dark colours could be construed as moody, but says they in fact enhance the hotel's dark, intimate spaces. "Light paint does not necessarily makes for lighter spaces; it is all about the quality of light that is used to enhance these spaces.
"If we have a small, dark space, we are not afraid of making it darker. Painting the same colour on the ceilings and walls creates a neutral backdrop without visible ceiling lines, enhances the features and makes rooms more intriguing by keeping the focus at eye-level. We kept the colour palette deliberately restrained so as not to detract from the architecture."
The resulting bold, rich and warm tones have created an effect that is cosy and inviting, snug yet sumptuous.
The bedrooms range from Cosy rooms up to three signature master suites and include six Courtyard suites with interconnecting rooms.
nnelling traditional British comfort, each room is individually decorated to create eclectic accommodation for families, couples and the solo traveller. There are antiques, Nespresso coffee machines and bathrooms have rainfall showers.
Four colour schemes were used: taupe and mauve; deep turquoise and earth; citrus and olive; and red and grey, though Stembridge says one of the most important items are the beds from Naturalmat, which are English-made from natural and organic materials.
The King Charles I suite
As well as antiques and the king's coat of arms, this suite has an impressive four-poster bed hung in a bold red and grey check and a heap of cushions patterned in grey, white and red, tartan and tweed. A wing armchair has been reupholstered in crimson.
The dominant space is the Lygon Bar & Grill, a fresh interpretation of the main dining room, which has kept its huge barrelled ceiling and minstrels' gallery, but with a more relaxed mood. Instead of heavy white linen, there are modern marble-topped tables, comfortable blue leather chairs and tan leather banquettes.
d chef Ales Maurer uses local produce, drawing on a network of suppliers for dishes such as Buckland tomato, courgette and basil risotto with Worcester white cheddar (£15). The wine list reflects the local theme, with wines sourced from vineyards within a 25-mile radius.
In contrast, the Lygon Wine Bar channels modern Milan in chic monochrome colours, complemented by light Italian dishes including tuna tartare, avocado and pine nuts; crab, parsley and lemon linguine; Coln Valley hot-smoked salmon and chargrilled courgette pizzetta; Italian cured meats, olives and ciabatta; and tiramisÁ¹.
Impact on business
The average daily rate increased by about £48 following the refurbishment, alongside a steadily growing occupancy rate. F&B business is particularly strong, says Stembridge.
The next phase of planning, towards mid to late 2019, aims to transform the barns and outbuildings into guest accommodation suitable for the hotel's growing family market. There are also plans to create new cottage-style accommodation and landscaping to improve parking areas and gardens. Discussions are under way for a new meeting room and event space, as well as the construction of new staff accommodation.
Facts and figuresThe Lygon Arms Hotel, Broadway, Worcestershirewww.lygonarmshotel.co.ukBackground L+R's newly formed Iconic Luxury Hotels, headed by executive director Andrew Stembridge, includes Chewton Glen and Cliveden House. It also manages 11 Cadogan Gardens, London, on behalf of Cadogan. The wider L+R portfolio has 105 hotels Reopened 25 September 2017 Refurbishment costs A multimillion-pound investment General manager Jason Adams Head chef Ales Maurer Number of bedrooms 86 (up from 78) Covers Lygon Wine Bar: 84; Lygon Bar & Grill: 46; Lygon Lounges: 188 Staff 115 Starting room rate £225 B&B based on two sharing a Cosy double Average bill for dinner £35 per person for dinner; £12 for beverages
SuppliersAntler chandelierClock House Furniture, East Lothian www.clockhouse-furniture.co.uk Banquette seating, sofas and chairsAlter London www.alterlondon.com Darlings of Chelsea, London www.darlingsofchelsea.co.uk BedsNaturalmat Company, Topsham www.naturalmat.co.uk Carpets and soft furnishing installationLGM Group Ltd, Kidderminster www.lgm-ltd.co.uk FabricColefax & Fowler, London www.colefax.com Hesse & Co Fabrics, London www.hessefabrics.com Leather upholsteryAlma Leather, London www.alma1938.com Yarwood, Leeds www.yarwoodleather.com LightingAnton & K, Winchcombe www.antonandk.co.uk Besselink & Jones, London www.besselink.com Elstead Lighting, Alton www.elsteadlighting.com Heathfield & Co, Tonbridge www.heathfield.co.uk Jim Lawrence, Hadleigh www.jim-lawrence.co.uk Julian Chichester UK, London www.julianchichester.com TabletopsFontanili Marble UK Ltd, London www.fontanilimarbleuk.com ThrowsTweedmill Textiles Ltd, Flint www.tweedmill.com UpholsteryAgua Fabrics, London www.aguafabrics.com Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).
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