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Hotel Review: The Swan at Lavenham Hotel & Spa, Lavenham in Suffolk

By Amy Ockelford on 26th February 2019

Every year, tourists from all corners of the globe flock to Lavenham, a pretty and picturesque village in Suffolk, widely regarded as one of the best examples of a surviving medieval town.

At the heart of the ancient village is the equally historic The Swan at Lavenham, a chocolate-box hotel that dominates the high street. The beautiful timber-framed 15th century building is considered one of the county’s finest hotels, steeped in history and oozing luxury.

But it is once you step inside the heavy, oak door that The Swan comes to life. The hotel is beautifully decorated with soft pastel colours and rustic designs beside heavy flagstone floors and dark, oak beams. The new, sophisticated style has been infused seamlessly alongside the elegant, period charm of the historic building. Nods to the hotel’s past are clear throughout with the 45 rooms and suites named after local artists and places.

The period charm of the hotel is enhanced with soft pastel colours

Lavenham, traditionally a medieval wool town producing its famous blue broadcloth, flourished as the weaving industry grew in the 16th century and The Swan’s guests are reminded of the village’s prosperous past with wool fabrics and furniture used throughout, weaving machinery embellishing the hotel’s long, rambling corridors and the stunning double-height Wool Hall available for events.

For those who wish to explore Lavenham and get an insight into the hotel’s history, hotel guests can book onto special guided tours or attend talks to learn more about the inn’s fascinating past. The Swan is an iconic hotel not least because of its beauty and charm, but also because of myths that it is haunted.

Guests have alleged seeing a ghostly figure in one of the hotel’s rooms. The story goes that a housekeeper at the hotel in the 19th century hanged herself in her quarters after being jilted by her husband to be on their wedding day.

Lavenham has many sites of interest including St Peter & St Paul’s Church

In Lavenham itself, the village is full of charming coffee shops and tearooms, independent shops and historic landmarks like the Guildhall, St Peter & St Paul’s Church, and the local museum. On a sunny day, visitors can spend hours just wandering the village’s narrow streets looking at the pretty houses. Visitors can also explore further afield with ease – with Sudbury and, similarly historic, Bury St Edmunds just a short drive away.

The beautiful Dedham Vale – an area of outstanding natural beauty made famous by the masterpieces of artist John Constable – is nearby and, a little further afield, guests can also visit the charming seaside towns of Aldeburgh and Southwold.

For those who just want to escape to the country for a weekend of R&R, there’s plenty to keep you occupied at The Swan. While away the hours curled up on a big, comfy sofa tucked away in a cosy nook in one of the hotel’s stylish lounges reading a book. Or perch beside a roaring fire to enjoy afternoon tea or an early evening tipple from the bar.

Constable Suites have a cosy and charming separate lounge

We spent the night in a lovely heritage suite. The room was charming with soft lighting, leaded windows and traditional furnishings. The space was snug and comfortable, perfect for our girls’ weekend away. The bathroom felt a little tired and dated – unlike the rest of the hotel and accommodation – and while towels were a little scratchy, the robes were cloud-like.

After settling into our room we headed straight to the hotel’s spa; Weavers House Spa. In contrast to the hotel, the starkly modern spa consists of clean lines, glass and soft tones. We were ushered into the stunning and still lounge in our robes and slippers where staff promptly brought out our registration forms along with refreshing towels and delicious berry smoothies.

The luxurious spa facilities include an outdoor vitality pool

We nestled into the deep, cosy sofas in front of the fire looking out of the bi-fold doors and across the courtyard at the twinkling fairy lights strung in the trees lining the patio. We felt relaxed and peaceful before our treatment had already begun! Soon it was time for our 60-minute Drift Away massages and we were accompanied up to a tranquil treatment room to settle on snug water-mattress massage beds.

The music was soothing as we inhaled calming scents and aromas and settled into the relaxing treatment. After ending the massage with a refreshing sorbet before moving into the impeccably decorated post-treatment lounge, an extremely serene space for guests to take some time out to focus on the relaxed state of mind. After a quick soak in the hot tub, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner.

The Brasserie offers a relaxed and convivial dining atmosphere

There are several dining options at The Swan catering to all guests and every occasion. For a relaxed lunch or snack, guests can dine in the Brasserie, while the formal dining experience takes place in the grand Gallery restaurant; an impressive room with vaulted ceiling, gallery balcony and exposed beams.

The restaurant would rival the dining room of any stately home – and the food is just as grand. We decided to over-indulge with the fine dining five-course menu; I opted for the vegetarian and fish options while my friend went for the meat choices. I had a light tomato gazpacho with pesto and mozzarella to start, followed by the delicious and warming cauliflower and truffle macaroni – my dish of the day.

The Gallery would rival the dining room of any stately home

The fish course was halibut, followed by the main event which, possibly due to my mix and match menu choices, wasn’t as enjoyable as the courses before, was the risotto. But, we finished on a high with the delectable white chocolate mousse with passionfruit. The staff brought out champagne and special chocolate truffles to finish our tasty meal and wish my guest a happy birthday – a lovely touch to finish a lovely evening.

If walls could speak then this historic hotel would have centuries of stories to share and I’m pleased to have been a part of it.

  • The Swan at Lavenham Hotel & Spa in Suffolk is a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels collection (never more than 50 hotels, to guarantee quality and exclusivity).
  • Rooms start from £185 per night (two sharing) including full Suffolk breakfast and use of the spa facilities which include a sauna, steam room, outdoor vitality pool and relaxation lounge.
  • The Drift Away, In Good Spirits and Work it Out Mediterranean massages are £74 each for 60 minutes.
  • Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (prideofbritainhotels.com).

Address: The Swan at Lavenham, High Street, Lavenham CO10 9QA
Phone: 01787 247477
Website: theswanatlavenham.co.uk