We stayed at this hotel the last time we visited Lavenham in April 2007.
||First a little history. Many years ago this hotel was run, very well indeed, by the
Trusthouse Forte group but was later sold and taken over by a hotel chain called MacDonalds and we had
an unhappy experience at that time and would not have gone back there. Then, a few years ago,
ownership was once again transferred although this time not to a large hotel chain but to a local
organisation which already had just one hotel on the Suffolk coast. With this change the hotel's
classification went up from three to four stars and for the last 3 years their restaurant has been
awarded two rosettes.
So it was that this April we returned once again for two nights.
The Swan Inn is really a tourist attraction in it's own right. This tudor building features a
number of cosy lounge areas with magnificent oak beams literally everywhere and that also applies to
just about every room in the place.
Staying at many different hotels as we do it is, perhaps surprisingly, the small things that tend to get
noticed. Many hotels have linen napkins at dinner and paper napkins at breakfast but not at the Swan - linen
napkins at all meals and that includes afternoon tea. The butter at breakfast and afternoon tea was in
little pots, not those unpleasant little foil wrapped packets and there was fresh fruit in the room together
with a small box of chocolates. All these small touches make one's stay so much more agreeable.
On the day we arrived we had afternoon tea which comes in two sizes - scones with butter, jam and clotted
cream, which is what we chose, or the same but with finger sandwiches and pastries in addition. An American
family came for afternoon tea soon after we sat down and they chose the larger version which appeared to
please them so much that they wanted a photograph of themselves including the tall cake stand holding all
the goodies in the picture. There's nothing like a small dose of decadence to help one's visit along.
||Our room included, as you can see, a four-poster bed and two armchairs. It was on the
ground floor overlooking the High Street but was fitted with secondary double glazing which cut down
the noise from outside although Lavenham is not really noisy at any time and at night there is no
The route from reception to our room was - er - interesting. We first had to go up to the next floor,
along a rambling corridor where we both had to duck twice because of very low beams and then down two
short flights of stairs to the ground floor again. We found later that if we went out to the garden
near reception and along the path at the back, then in the door at the other end, we could reach our
room more easily that way.
It must be quite difficult fitting out these very old buildings without spoiling the appearance or
damaging the structure and our room was a little short on storage space with one hanging cupboard and a
few drawers. The bathroom was everything that one could expect with a nice range of supplied
toiletries and the general housekeeping was impeccable.
||On our first night we had dinner in the elegant surroundings of the restaurant which is a
delightfully impressive room with a Minstrels' Gallery and breakfast is also provided in this same
restaurant. The following day we decided to try the bar meals in the rather more informal surroungings
of the lounge area. We saw the bar meals menu whilst we were having afternoon tea and wanted to find
out if they were as tasty as they sounded - and they were!
The food was, generally, of a high standard. The scones we had for afternoon tea were some of the
best we've had, the bar meals were every bit as good as the restaurant meals and breakfast was of an
equally high standard.
The staff were generally very attentive and eager to please although, on occasions, we felt we had
to wait longer than we should have both in placing our order and then waiting for it to arrive. However
in the overall scheme of things it was a small gripe.
||The hotel has it's own car park, accessed from Lady Street, which leads on to one of two
separate garden areas joined by a path at the back of the hotel where one can, in good weather, sit
quietly in very relaxing surroundings. There is a back entrance to the hotel near the car park which
leads through to the reception area.
The hotel advertises free wireless broadband access for guests but it is available only from the
lounge areas and not from the bedrooms which isn't very convenient. However it didn't matter too much
as it wasn't working anyway when we were there. There was supposed to be 'a man' coming to fix it but
if he did it was too late for us.
It is a truly delightful hotel in a very pretty part of the country and places don't come more
'tudory' than Lavenham and The Swan. All in all a most enjoyable stay.
Would we recommend it? But of course! Go on - Treat yourself.
This hotel does have
it's own web site.
|If you have stayed at this hotel please leave a comment about it.
|All photographs are the copyright © of Barry Samuels unless stated otherwise