Absolutely Mama's Helen Baron discovers The Swan, Southwold, a sophisticated Suffolk retreat that's also family-friendly
As far as public-house hotels go, The Swan is Southwold royalty. Owned by the town’s own Adnams Brewery since 1872, today it’s an inn of imposing size and impressive outlook, albeit with a knack for amping up the cosiness once you step inside. Renovated in the not-too-distant past, it avoids the identikit feel of so many rejigged country pubs, opting for more quirky contemporary decor.
Travelling as a four, we were comfortably installed in the Family Suite. This takes the form of two large, tastefully styled rooms – each with a king-size bed, sitting area and spacious bathroom – linked by a private corridor. The kids wouldn’t sleep in their own room, so the staff merrily brought a camp-bed and cot to accommodate all of us in one. We then curled up sipping complimentary Adnams gin (flavoured with matcha tea – very cosmopolitan) in fluffy white bathrobes while the girls raced up and down ‘their’ hallway and used the second room as a hide ‘n’ seek arena.
Not for nothing is Southwold renowned as one of the premier second-home locations for a certain type of affluent Londoner – specifically, North and East London-dwelling media types savvy to the town’s immaculately preserved streets, picturesque dunes and cluster of high-end independent shops. We were there just before Christmas, when Southwold is at its bustling, twinkling finest. We enjoyed a brisk morning on the beach (alas, it was a little too cold for the hotel’s butler-served picnic), then strolled the high street exploring cute bakeries, book shops and a mighty fine cheesemonger.
Dining at The Swan can mean room service or very fine pub grub in the main public areas… but if you’re only there for a night, you should opt for a meal in The Still Room. Named for the Adnams distillery, its copper-topped cocktail bar, velvet upholstery and walls brimming with fine art make for an elegant experience – and no one batted an eyelid when we brought our little ones to eat with us.
Room rates start at £189 per night , breakfast included; theswansouthwold.co.uk
Feeling the wanderlust? Have a read of our review of Another Place in the Lake District