An indulgent weekend escape for weary, tired and overworked parents? Oh yes please, count us in! Just a few hours outside of London awaits the beautiful Suffolk coast and the charming, yet affluent seaside town of Southwold. At first glance it appears to be a ‘sleepy’ little resort trapped in time, with its infamous Pier, harbour and brightly coloured (and pricey) beach huts lining the seafront, but, not so hidden beneath its quaint exterior lies a bustling hub of entertainment and activity with more than enough North Sea air, top notch eateries, one-off boutiques and history to recharge those batteries in 48hrs or less. Junior checks into The Swan Hotel …
The Swan in Southwold couldn’t be more at the heart of this Suffolk seaside town if it tried. Set in a building dating from the 17th century, it’s situated in the centre of town, proudly overlooking the market square like a protective, well, swan overlooking her nest. This warm, cosy and extremely inviting hotel is anchored and run by the Adnams brewery and distillery (a family brewing business established in 1872, the same time as The Swan was purchased by brothers Ernest and George Adnams) and, is a stone’s throw from the beachfront promenade and the historic Southwold Lighthouse.
Georgian architecture (from the rebuild after Southwold’s great fire of 1659), modern maritime coastal style and a complete mutli-million pound refurbishment in 2017 that saw the Swan brought bang up to date with bold clashing colours, sumptuous velvets & buttery leathers and sleek copper details borrowed straight from the distillery next door are all extremely pleasing to the eye. With an on-site elegant restaurant, the Still Room and the more relaxed Tap Room bar – you may never want to stay anywhere else in Southward, and, to be honest why would you?
GOOD TO KNOW: Located on the Suffolk coast, Southwold is approx. 3 hrs from London by car. The private car park is to the rear of the hotel. You need an access code to enter which (this is confirmed upon reservation). The nearest train station is Darsham, which is approximately 9.5 miles away. Here trains run to London (via Ipswich) and Norwich (via Lowestoft).
The Swan has 35 rooms, including 6 suites (and, 1 wheelchair accessible Garden room) and are are classified as Excellent, Fabulous and Outstanding. But, in reality each of the individually decorated rooms are pretty amazing with cosy four-poster beds (in the garden rooms), double-sprung mattresses, luxury goose and duck down bedding and cosy throws; as well as complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and the usual luxury hotel essentials (hair dryers, bathrobes, a useful oversized umbrella and a telephone). The Swan’s unique Adnams ‘Tall Boys’ house a Nespresso machine and kettle, the TV, a wireless speaker, a mini bar and other treats, which include a 20cl bottle of Adnams gin ‘on the house’. Upgraded rooms also have sitting areas overlooking the garden or market square and/or fireplaces. Room service is also available and we loved the suitcase-carrying swan on the hotel information book and postcards.
GOOD TO KNOW: The spa-like panelled bathrooms with freestanding baths, rain showers and double sinks offer full-size Temple Spa toiletries to use during your stay.
Food & Drink
The Swan has two dining areas and a garden terrace – ideal for drinks in the summer. For a romantic couple meal, you can’t beat The Still Room restaurant (which takes its name from the small-batch distillery situated just a few meters away from the hotel) which offers glamorous cocktails, delicate, yet hearty and inventive food combinations and an extensive wine and of course gin menu, headed up by Executive Head Chef Rory Whelan and his team.
The more informal Tap Room serves Adnams’ own beers, with over 12 varieties to choose from and celebrates Adnams’ long brewing heritage. As well as its own label vodka, gin and spirits and mixers. Food is of the more gastropub style, think burgers, fish platters and steaks – and the infamous triple-cooked chips. Do stop by if only for a quick drink and a look up at the lighting – bulbs hanging from thick ropes adds a modern touch to this maritime-influenced room.
At the Swan, breakfast is included for all guests and is taken in the Still Room restaurant. A lush buffet of pastries, juices and fruit is complemented with dishes cooked to order. You can also request a breakfast tray in your room (for a small fee)
GOOD TO KNOW: Booking is recommended for dinner, evening sittings and afternoon tea. The menu changes with the season and can be downloaded online here
The Swan – Families Welcome too!
No luxury hotel ever features on Junior that doesn’t cater for families and, the Swan in Southwold is no exception. Yes, as nice as it to get away from it all, it’s great to know that luxury hotels don’t forget the little (and furry) guests! Children are indeed welcome at The Swan (extra beds for kids age 10 and under stay are priced at £30) and dogs are also welcome (extra £10 flat fee) in selected garden rooms but are not allowed into the main hotel.
The hotel run a ‘cygnet’ programme for children, which includes stickers, a postcard from the manager, a teddy bear and a dressing gown. Each room also has a Hamley’s draughts game and the Garden Rooms open onto an enclosed lawn making them ideal for smaller guest and dogs. Baby cots and baby amenities are also available – simply mention when booking. There is also a children’s menu in both restaurants.
The website states “More than just a hotel, we aim to bring you the ultimate Southwold experience” and we would say this hotel goes above and beyond to meet this promise. This luxury hotel is steeped in history but with all creature comforts and luxuries at hand, even hardened city-dwellers will fall in love with the slower-paced seaside vibes. Visit the coast, head inward to the countryside, jostle around the market square and local shops or take a tour of the Adnams brewery and distillery and take advantage of the wonderful Swan ‘Butlers’ who are on hand to arrange everything for you, from a cold gin and tonic on arrival to carrying deckchairs to the beach front for a specially packed picnic for two.
The Swan Market Place, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6EG
RATES: Doubles from £200 per night, including breakfast and free wi-fi.