A land­scape of nat­u­ral beauty, in­spir­ing Bri­tain's most-cel­e­brated artists and full of our his­tory – an­cient and mod­ern.

At East Anglia’s heart is ‘Con­sta­ble Coun­try’, a land­scape of nat­u­ral beauty, in­spir­ing Bri­tain’s most-cel­e­brated artists and full of our his­tory – an­cient and mod­ern. The Swan At Laven­ham Ho­tel & Spa

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WHERE TO STAY On the main street, at the cen­tre of the stun­ning vil­lage, is the half-tim­bered frontage of this re­mark­able 45-bed­roomed lux­ury ho­tel, to­tally in keep­ing with the many other me­dieval ar­chi­tec­tural gems. En­ter by the suit­ably-aged front door and step into an ex­pe­ri­ence like no other. Three early-15th cen­tury houses were con­verted, some time be­fore 1667, to make a coach­ing-inn, with sta­bling for up to 50 horses, and the foun­da­tions of The Swan were born. Fast for­ward 350 years to find this mod­ern mas­ter­piece, where the tim­ber skele­tons of those houses have been fully ex­posed and art­fully in­cor­po­rated into a ho­tel of the ut­most com­fort and quiet ef­fi­ciency, with an abun­dance of an­tique fur­ni­ture and fur­nish­ings in the many cosy sit­ting ar­eas and a wel­com­ing, low-ceilinged bar. Named the ‘Air­men’s’, af­ter the many USAF and RAF per­son­nel who sought re­fresh­ment here in WW2, among the mem­o­ra­bilia there are poignant re­minders of harder times with the many graf­fiti left be­hind, names and num­bers scrawled on the walls in haste and now pre­served for pos­ter­ity. The first im­pres­sions are only en­hanced when, check-in for­mal­i­ties ami­ably com­pleted, you are helped to your en-suite room, each of which has been in­di­vid­u­ally fash­ioned to fit within an an­cient space and named af­ter a Suf­folk vil­lage. El­e­gant dé­cor, spa­cious com­fort, sump­tu­ous fit­tings and a first-class bath­room – all in an im­pos­si­bly ro­man­tic set­ting – make this whole ex­pe­ri­ence one to re­mem­ber. A taste­ful, ar­chi­tec­turally-ap­pro­pri­ate ex­pan­sion of the ho­tel has linked the orig­i­nal post­house with newer, late-15th cen­tury prop­er­ties to the side and rear, cre­at­ing an open court­yard, much loved by wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers and those seek­ing a pri­vate space. In turn, this has en­abled the build­ing of the ex­trav­a­gantly re­fur­bished ‘Gallery’ restau­rant, us­ing re­cy­cled tim­bers, some from the derelict sta­bles, to pro­vide a larger din­ing-room, still wholly in keep­ing. Im­proved kitchens al­low the ad­mirable Justin Kett’s team the space in which to con­trive, with pas­sion­ate flair, an ar­ray of sen­sa­tional dishes. With plen­ti­ful lo­cal re­sources – think of fa­mous names like Gress­ing­ham, Cromer, Tip­tree, Low­est­oft and oth­ers – Justin’s skill is in al­low­ing the es­sen­tial pu­rity of flavour to emerge, with a re­fresh­ing lack of overe­lab­o­ra­tion. In achiev­ing cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, the young, and knowl­edge­able, Head Som­me­lier, Fran­cois Bellin, is a per­fect match aim­ing to seek out the best of wines, from around the world, to com­ple­ment the food and de­light the din­ers. As the ho­tel’s name sug­gests, the ful­lye­quipped ‘Weaver’s House’ spa has been es­tab­lished along­side and spe­cialises in ex­ceed­ing ex­pec­ta­tions. My ther­a­pist, Han­nah, was metic­u­lous in as­sess­ing my needs, and the ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment, putting me at ease, both with her pro­fes­sion­al­ism and a cool­ing berry smoothie. Sooth­ing and restora­tive, us­ing es­sen­tials and prod­ucts from the ‘Tem­ple Spa’ range, she ren­dered me vir­tu­ally co­matose, re­vived with a sharp, lemon sor­bet fol­lowed by a herbal tea and mac­aron. Open to dayvis­i­tors, as well as ho­tel guests, the range of treat­ments, both ther­a­peu­tic and cos­metic, is wildly at­trac­tive and, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, wholly ef­fec­tive. One of only five in the Suf­folk-based, TA Ho­tel Col­lec­tion, The Swan glo­ries in its membership of the pres­ti­gious ‘ Pride of Bri­tain’ group­ing, voted for by its peers, and, with its first-rate man­age­ment and at­ten­tion to de­tail, is sure to re­tain it. Strongly rec­om­mended.

High St, Laven­ham, Sud­bury CO10 9QA theswanat­laven­ham.co.uk

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