LYGON ARMS, Worcestershire
It's your 20th wedding anniversary, so what do you do? Book into the most expensive hotel you can find. Well, that's what I did, and hang the expense. The fact that it has become a slow lingering death by bank statement is another matter.

We drove to the Lygon Arms at Broadway in the Cotswolds. You may have read about it, "Gladiator's star has guests giggling". I think that was the gist of the post-mortem following Ulreka Johnson's sojourn with her hunk.

Anyway, I was thinking it could be a bit of a laugh, for the bank manager if no one else.

We drove into the small-town America that is Broadway - the place is full of people saying "Gee how sweet" - and swept through the archway into the hotel car park. And straight out again.

Blimey, I thought. A Roller (N-reg), Porsche, Mercedes convertible (naturally) and, squeezed between the geraniums and begonias, a Morgan with an Italian number plate. Somehow my G-registered Isuzu (mud-splattered) Trooper, seemed out of place. To the public car park, and be quick about it.

We carried our bags - best shirt and tie and frock - towards reception. The time was 2.43pm. I remember it well because the hotel had told me that the official check-in time was 2pm but that we could arrive whenever we wanted.

The room wasn't ready. Ten minutes. We were served fresh coffee (in a cafetiere with china cups) in the drawing room. With home-made biscuits. Gratis. Free. For nothing.

Our room was at the back of the hotel in a ghastly Sixties-looking extension which HRH Prince Charles would have described as a carbuncle on the face of a dirty weekend. Still, it was impressive.

I had originally asked if the Lygon Arms did bargain breaks. Joke. But they do, in fact, do bargain breaks. Only they call them Champagne Breaks. I explained that because of the children we couldn't make a whole "Break" but how about a night? They were most accommodating. We could have a "half" champagne break. Which meant we got one night with a four-poster and... half a bottle of champagne.

Still, it was bloody good champagne. With the Lygon Arms own label. And just as we had drained the bottle came a knock at the door. There stood a slightly out of breath member of staff bearing a decanter of sherry. This, I thought, was the life.

It got better. There was a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna. In the Jacuzzi we met other "champagne breakers", the 75cl versions. An airline pilot and stewardess and an American honeymoon couple. We all agreed that money can buy happiness. Even if the cost is living on baked beans for the next six months.

Don't tell my family, but the night's champagne break in a four poster with a three-course dinner and continental breakfast plus bottle of Cloudy Bay cost somewhere in the region of pounds 270.

Lygon Arms, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7DU (01386 852255)

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