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
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