The Cotswolds is an area of England about 100 miles (160 km) between Chipping Campden and Bath. The name ‘Cotswolds’ is generally agreed to be a combination of ‘Cots’ and old English name for a sheep pen and ‘wolds’ another old word, meaning ‘hills’. The sense of the name is therefore, Sheep on the Hills.
Loved for its honey-colour stone cottages, gardens and unique style and sense of place, the Cotswolds area is mostly in Gloucestershire. However, for those in the know, the village of Broadway just over the border, in Worcestershire is a little piece of Cotswold perfection. A Worcestershire Cotswolds village, complete with pubs, galleries and shops and this is where you’ll find The Broadway Hotel, sitting on the village green in the very heart of one of the most popular of all Cotswold villages.
This is the real Cotswolds, everyone’s idea of what the Cotswolds are all about. Broadway is lined with almost impossible photogenic cottages and buildings. There really are still sheep on the hills and to wake up here and hear birdsong and maybe some horses clopping along the High Street is one of the great Cotswold experiences.
The Broadway Hotel is a grade 2 listed building with medieval origins, once used by the Abbots of Pershore. This place, once the bakery, has been at centre of Broadway village life for a very long time.
Step out of the door of the Broadway and you’re straight on to the village green and the ‘Broad Way’ that runs east to west and which gives the village its name. As a result the hotel is probably one of the most photographed in the Cotswolds. The main local shops, galleries and tea rooms are all just a few steps away. along the main street. The village has a reputation for high quality art and prints and there are also several places for excellent souvenirs – such as the Cotswold Chocolate Company and a retail shop for the Cotswold Distillery.
For such a relatively small village, it is perhaps surprising that there are two museums here, including the Broadway Museum and Gallery. This is also a partner outpost of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. It’s a great place to learn about the Broadway Artists’ Colony, a group that flourished in and around Broadway in the late 19th century. Functioning as something like a summer camp, members of the colony met at Broadway in the summer to exchange ideas and inspiration. The Colony, made up of artists from Europe and the USA included such names as Francis Davis Millet, Alfred Parsons and John Singer Sargent, was the most celebrated portrait artist of the Edwardian era.
The Colony’s inspiration came from the setting and its rustic, slower-paced way of living. Possibly the most celebrated work associated with Broadway and the Colony movement is expatriate American John Singer Sargent’s Lily, Lily, Rose. The painting is now in the Tate, but you can see a striking copy and learn the story.
Another local hero is celebrated in the Gordon Russell Museum. Russell (1892-1980) was an important figure in the story of British design. Furniture maker and designer, calligrapher and businessman, Russell innovated with the export of design to the USA, Europe and Japan. He draws on the Cotswold Arts and Crafts tradition to advocate good design in hand made and machine-made furniture. The Gordon Russell Design Museum is located in the original drawing office and workshop, a short walk from the hotel. Top tip – the shop is excellent!
Broadway sits at the foot of the Cotswold edge. If you look east from the village you’ll see Broadway Tower on the hilltop – you can see it from some of the hotel bedrooms too. Broadway Tower is THE local landmark and deserves more than being admired from afar – it’s well worth a visit. There’s a circular walk from the village up and back, which includes a section of the Cotswold Way. The Tower is a fairly eccentric decorative assembly of battlements and turrets designed by James Wyatt at the request of ‘Capability’ Brown as part of his work at the end of the 18th century for the 6th Earl of Coventry. ‘Folly’ is perhaps not quite the right word to describe Broadway Tower – the view (over 16 counties) is sensational.
These days, the tower is one of the most popular Cotswold attractions, attracting visitors for the view, the herd of red deer and the exhibitions on the story of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts connections of the building. A new upgraded cafe adds to the appeal (especially for walkers) and there is also the unusual option of a visit to a Cold War-era nuclear bunker.
Broadway has another secret for visitors – it’s very own steam railway! The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has recently opened a Broadway station, with services to Toddington, Winchcombe and Cheltenham Racecourse. GWSR run various special events, from WW2 theme days to Fish and Chip specials. The railway is very popular and it is always worth booking ahead.
For a car-free day in Cheltenham, try the steam train combined with the short park and ride service into town. Cheltenham is not far and its Race Days are always busy at The Broadway Hotel, one of those Cotswold places that is acknowledged as a popular ‘place to be’ during race meetings. The hotel is also a popular choice during Cheltenham’s festivals of music, literature, jazz, science and music; a great way to combine a little Cotswold charm with 21st century cutting edge science and culture.
Broadway has its own annual programme of events too. The main event is the annual Broadway Arts Festival. The summer Village Show is full of all the charm of a Cotswolds village celebration and Broadway probably ‘does’ Christmas better than any other Cotswolds village, with two seasonal late night shopping events that see the High Street lined with shops, food and drink for sale and plenty of Christmas tingle. As ever, the Broadway Hotel is at the centre of the action.
For visitors making their first visit to the Cotswolds, Broadway is an excellent location. In addition to being a charming place – ‘Instant Cotswolds’ as one guest put it – a stay at The Broadway Hotel puts villages such as Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton on the Water within easy reach. Attractions like Sudeley Castle, the National Trust’s Hidcote Manor, Snowshill Manor and Chastleton House are each a small drive away. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Stratford-Upon-Avon are quite within reach, as is the World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle and BBC Countryfile presenter, Adam Henson’s, Cotswold Farm Park.
We’re also full of ideas for visits to, perhaps, slightly lesser-known places that represent the best of the Cotswolds. Kiftsgate Manor Garden, with its extraordinary eponymous climbing rose. Bourton House Garden, which so enthralled BBC Gardener’s World presenter Adam Frost. Nearby, Batsford Arboretum is a ‘must-see’, especially in Autumn. Cotswold Lavender is a popular selfie spot – an early summer experience of Provencal smell and colour, right here in the Cotswolds.
The Broadway Hotel is dog-friendly and most of the attractions above are highly dog-friendly too. We also have a tried and trusted list of local walks from the short and sweet to a thorough country ramble. And for a lunch stop? Well, it’s rare to find a Cotswold pub that isn’t dog-friendly these days – our pubs are the pride and joy of the Cotswolds. Ask for advice at our reception desk, where you might also get to meet Patch, our much spoiled and photographed hotel dog.
The Broadway Hotel has a unique charm that, like its menus, changes with the seasons. Spring in the Cotswolds is a delight, with the hotel’s own flower-filled gardens coming to life. The hotel has its own private garden for residents and in the beautiful Cotswold summer, guests can choose to take afternoon tea on the busy terrace overlooking the Village Green or opt for a quietly private afternoon tea in the gardens at the rear. Autumn is a wonderful colourful time to be in the Cotswolds too – a little quieter, with the kitchen team enjoying the chance to introduce all those hearty autumn flavours onto the menu.
Winter breaks are becoming fashionable, as more and more local attractions run winter events and the hotel lights the log fires, our guests love to take a short wintry walk, do a little relaxed shopping and then head home to the hotel for the cosy bar and the prospect of the cosy bar and supper. The hotel offers Gift Vouchers for those who would like to share the experience!