An Inspector Calls… A review of The Swan in Southwold

An Inspector Calls… The Swan in Southwold is a ‘happy hotel’ where rooms come with a free bottle of gin

  • The Swan is located in the centre of town, a hundred yards or so from the beach
  • It’s a former 17th-century Georgian coach house with ‘utterly charming’ rooms 
  • The Inspector praised the service – the receptionist even offered to clean his car 
  • Adnams and Southwold have been intertwined since 1872. That was when the brewery was launched, after which it employed hundreds of people and owned most of the houses in the pretty Suffolk seaside town.

    Today, the privately-owned company still holds many of the freeholds in the High Street, including here at The Swan, bang in the centre of town, a hundred yards or so from the beach.

    We arrive on a glorious Sunday afternoon and head straight for the North Sea, where I rush into the water in baggy shorts (forgot to pack swimming trunks) and flap about heroically.

    Charming: The Swan is located in the centre of town, a hundred yards or so from the beach

    Then it’s a question of walking into The Swan in dripping shorts, which doesn’t faze the delightful young woman at reception.

    Off the main hall is a big drawing room, with blue velvet chairs, a green and velvet sofa, sea-shanty blinds, glass‑blown lamps. Beach hut chic, in other words.

    Our room looks out over one of the brewery’s warehouses, but it’s bright, cheerful and utterly charming, with sisal flooring, a bowl of fresh roses on a table in the hallway, a complimentary bottle of Adnams gin, home-made shortbread and a big bathroom with a free-standing tub and separate shower.

    The Swan — formerly a 17th-century Georgian coach house — is a happy hotel. I get chatting to a woman behind the bar in the Tap Room who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the town and the brewery. Turns out, she’s a tour guide.

    We eat in the Tap Room rather than the more formal Still Room. Sunday evenings are always a challenge for hotels: staff are weary, supplies may be low but guests still have high expectations. 

    Sure enough the seabass is finished and our table is missing cutlery, but the convivial atmosphere makes up for any lapses.

    Pictured above is one of the rooms at The Swan. The Inspector said his room was 'bright, cheerful and utterly charming'

    Pictured above is one of the rooms at The Swan. The Inspector said his room was ‘bright, cheerful and utterly charming’

    Breakfast is taken in the revamped Still Room, with artwork by Suffolk artists Harry Becker, Jason Gathorne-Hardy and Fred Ingrams. Seagulls are squawking and a mini market is setting up outside in the main square.

    Speaking of gulls, as we are leaving, the same friendly receptionist scurries out to the car park and asks if we would like her to do anything about the seagull mess on the bonnet of our car. Now that’s service.

    TRAVEL FACTS 

    The Swan, High Street, Southwold, Suffolk, IP18 6EG. B&B doubles from £200. For more information visit theswansouthwold.co.uk or call 01502 722186. 

    Rating:


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