The current building replaced a coaching inn, burned down in the devastating fire of 1694. The oldest part of the building is the wing running back on the right of the Entrance Hall. A section of the original walls has been exposed and restored.
The building was owned by the Earl of Warwick and leased in exchange for the ‘Cross Keys Inn’ which was demolished when part of the town was enclosed into the castle grounds in the 1780s. In 1790 the building was known as the White Swan and Swan Street, opposite, was named after the Inn.
Originally there was a coaching entrance from High Street to the inn yard behind. Stage coaches depended on a chain of coaching inns, where horses and drivers could be changed as necessary.
The current stone frontage to the Warwick Arms Hotel was built by 1815, when a local guidebook referred to it as “a pleasing style of simple elegance”. It was recognised as the principal Inn of Warwick. The hotel had the reputation at the time of being the superior inn of the town.
One writer described it as “more pretentious” than its rivals. In October 1819 the Earl of Warwick held his Court Baron at the Inn. Around this time the Warwickshire Yeomanry used the Inn as its Officers Mess.
By 1834 the Warwick Arms was calling itself a ‘hotel’. This was a French word used by the more upmarket Inns. It was an important Posting House in the pre-railway days and had extensive stabling in two yards, some of which remain today.
In 1928-29 numbers 19 and 21 High Street were taken over by the Warwick Arms Hotel. The lovely portico was destroyed by a reversing lorry on 1st June 1939. In 1941 the licence was suspended and the hotel was used as a Government Department until 1945.
In October 1948 the manager, Mr. Victor Ellison, adopted the sign of Lord Warwick’s Coat of Arms. This was added to the ‘Bunch of Grapes’ inn sign which hangs above the main High Street entrance. It is thought this dates to one of the early Earls of Warwick and is reputed to be the oldest inn sign in the country.