The Swan Hotel – Lavenham

Posted on Monday, 29th June 2015

The Swan Hotel & Spa is set in the heart of Lavenham, Suffolk, a beautiful 15th century medieval village steeped in centuries of history. Lavenham built up great wealth due to its woollen cloth industry in the 15th and 16th centuries, and with this came a sprawling set of period buildings catering to the wealthy of the time. As such Lavenham is known as one of England’s finest medieval towns. Not far from the hotel’s doorstep is the stunning timber framed Guildhall, a National Trust property, and the splendid St Peter and St Paul churches. Lavenham is also well placed for the surrounding countryside, with its scenic walking routes. It is also within driving access to the other wool towns of Hadleigh, Sudbury and Long Melford, the latter being famous for Melford Hall (a National trust property) and Kentwell Hall.

London Food Blog - The Swan at Lavenham

The Swan at Lavenham

The Swan Hotel is in itself an excellent example of the architecture from that time. The hotel’s exterior is a picture-perfect half-timbered structure that incorporates several notable buildings including an Elizabethan house and Lane Ham’s former Wool Hall. Inside there are beautiful oak beamed interiors, open fireplaces and cosy lounge seats. The rooms have been decorated by blending classical period touches with a contemporary style so that guests can enjoy a sense of history, yet still be able to relax in comfort. I stayed in The Heritage Room which was lovely. With its original features and uneven floors that stayed true to the structure of the original building, the room offered an old world charm and character.

A highlight of my stay at The Swan was my spa treatment at the hotel’s spa, The Weaver’s House Spa, which was a beautiful space of modernity, serenity and comfort. In addition to the treatments for purchase, the spa facility also contains steam and sauna rooms that are available for use by all the guests. My massage was wonderful but there were other touches that made my treatment all the more special such as the luxurious fleecy bathrobes that left me feeling as if I had been wrapped in layers of heavenly soft cotton. The massage bed was also special as it was a heated water massage bed. Bliss.

The Swan at Lavenham - London Food Blog - Spa Treatment Room

The Swan at Lavenham – Spa Treatment Room

Afternoon tea is available in the lounge area of the hotel and The Brasserie Restaurant, The Swan Hotel’s casual dining restaurant, from 2.30pm until 5pm. But The Swan also has a wonderful garden and this is where I had afternoon tea, out in the wondrous sunshine. Afternoon tea comes with a selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes. The sandwiches were a delight and contained a lovely selection of fillings such as crab and mayonnaise, venison, smoked salmon, etc. The baked goodies included carrot cake, bakewell tart and a ‘swan meringue’. All of these had a homemade quality to them but were all too sweet for my palate.

Dinner was in The Swan Hotel’s AA two rosette restaurant, Gallery. A three-course set menu is priced at £39.50 and offers a variety of fine-dining delights. For starter, a smoked salmon Scotch egg with lemon butter sauce and caviar was really gorgeous. The coating was lovely and crunchy and held in the flavour and moisture of the salmon well. The egg was runny and the creamy acidity of the sauce complemented the Scotch egg really well.

The Swan at Lavenham - London Food Blog - Smoked salmon Scotch egg

The Swan at Lavenham – Smoked salmon Scotch egg

A main of roast loin of Denham Estate venison with carrot purée, thyme mash, char-grilled sprouting broccoli and port jus was also delicious. The vension, medium rare, was tender and well cooked, and the jus was well reduced and completed the meat nicely. The mash was tasty but it was hard to detect the flavour of the thyme.

The Swan at Lavenham - London Food Blog - Venison

The Swan at Lavenham – Venison

Dessert of Cherry and chocolate fondant with raspberries and clotted cream ice-cream was a little too runny in its centre to the point where only a thin layer of cake had been cooked. It needed a longer bake. Nevertheless it was delicious, and the cherries married beautifully with the chocolate.

The Swan at Lavenham - London Food Blog - Chocolate fondant

The Swan at Lavenham – Chocolate fondant

Stays at The Swan come on a bread and breakfast basis and the options for breakfast include a variety of cooked options such as ‘Full Suffolk’ with an egg of your choice, sausage, bacon, tomatoes and black pudding. The breakfast was respectable although I found some of the items in the Full Suffolk such as the black pudding and bacon to be quite dry.

I loved the spa at The Swan and thoroughly recommend this as a must-do of any visit to The Swan. Dinner was accomplished and delicious, although the kitchen fared less well with breakfast and the cakes in the afternoon tea. The service was lovely on the whole but could have been more polished in parts. But in the round The Swan made for a charming, quaint getaway in one of the loveliest country towns in Suffolk.

Summary Information:

1) The spa was the highlight.
2) The quaint, quirky charm of the hotel.
3) The dinner was very good.

1) On the food front, the cakes in the afternoon tea and the breakfast were the weakest links.

Spa rating: 4.5/5
Dinner rating: 4/5
Afternoon tea and breakfast rating: 3.25/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

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