Seaside cool meets a Shoreditch vibe at The Swan Hotel in Southwold. This historic bolthole has plenty of bite in this charming coastal town.
Better known for its quirky Victorian seaside pier and pretty, pastel-coloured beach huts, Southwold is the latest in a line-up of UK coastal towns to be given a ‘Farrow & Ball’ makeover, with its winding streets dotted with characterful artisan bakeries, coastal-themed gift shops and fashionable seafood restaurants. Taking the lead in its ‘sprucing up’ is The Swan, a hotel dating back to the 1600s, which has always played an integral part of the town. Now owned by the Adnams Brewery, which has been based in Southwold since 1872, it has been given a bold £6m renovation.
From the fuchsia-pink velvet armchairs in the reception to the blue-and-white geometric wallpaper in the drawing room – The Swan feels like it has been dipped into a child’s paint-box. While there are nods to the hotel’s past – with oil paintings, antique furniture and vintage photographs – Shoreditch design studio Project Orange has given the rooms a distinctly urban feel. Creaking corridors, copper features to reflect the nearby distillery and Swan motifs retain the building’s character across the 35 rooms and public areas.
Start with drinks in The Tap Room, which features a broad range of beers as an homage to Adnams’ roots. Dinner in The Still Room is a highlight with executive chef Ross Bott striving to win the town’s first Michelin star with his Nordic-influenced cuisine. To start, there’s Ceviche of Skrei Cod with Avocado Sorbet and Seaweed or Sweet-cured Herring with Apple, Watercress and Rye Bread. For mains, seasonal specials include Stout-braised Shortrib or Roasted Halibut with Brown Shrimps and Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps. It’s a long way from the pub grub The Swan once served.
The Butler service. The hotel offers three in-house butlers who are on hand to fix you the perfect G&T or show you around the town. Just behind the hotel, is the Adnams Visitor Centre, which is worth exploring. Here you can take a tour of the distillery or take part in a ‘make your own gin’ experience.
After a stroll around town, with a stop-off at the Two Magpies Bakery for a quick bite, head to the beach for a blustery walk along the pier and make sure you check out the eccentric Under the Pier Show and the 1980s retro arcade room.
Rates at The Swan, Southwold start from £200 per room per night, based on two sharing an Excellent Room on a B&B basis. For further information or to book visit: www.theswansouthwold.co.uk or call: 01502 722186.
This article was also published in City AM newspaper on 17 June 2019