This was my first time in Southwold. Having always been obsessed with travel to far flung and exotic destinations, the concept of a stay-cay is somewhat new to me, but how restorative they are. With no airport queues, jet-lag or last-minute 'where the hell have I put my passport' panics, stay-cays are truly relaxing. I'm a convert.
And what better place to break my stay-cay hiatus than Southwold; a charming, olde worlde seaside town in Suffolk, home to fish and chips, Southwold pier and those iconic multi-coloured beach huts – some of which come with a £120K price tag. Southwold is all bracing sea air and genuine friendliness and, at the heart of the market town, sits The Swan...
The Swan's just been given a complete makeover by Shoreditch design studio Project Orange and is now an Instagrammer's fantasy. The 35 rooms are divided into three different categories: Excellent, Outstanding and Fabulous and they stick to a colour palette of contrasting millennial pinks, baby blues and duck egg greys with the odd lime green sofa thrown in. I stayed in an Outstanding room and the bathroom came with Temple Spa products (the super-thick night cream was particularly excellent), a giant roll top bath, huge walk-in shower and seriously chic encaustic tiles.
Aside from the interiors, another very sweet touch is that you're provided with your very own butler - ours was called Holmes. Yes, really. A charming man who even offered to take us on a tour of Southwold. We declined, preferring to do our own thing, but, still, so charming!
Will I get a good night's sleep?
A special mention goes to the beds at The Swan. It was, to the best of my recollection, the comfiest bed I've ever slept in. A four-poster emperor king size bed with a double-sprung mattress and a goose- and duck-down duvet that completely envelops you. Total heaven.
Is The Food Any Good?
The Still Room is the hotel's more formal restaurant and serves inventive modern dishes by chef Ross Bott. The amuse bouche alone is worth a visit; on the buzzing Saturday night that we visited, guests sipped on an incredible sweet potato soup with harrissa that was sweet, but with a delicious kick. I followed it up with salt-baked celeriac and then a tender beef Wellington served with brussel sprout tops, braised red cabbage and carrots. My sister wolfed down the mackerel then ordered a cheese board big enough to feed the Kar-Jenners.
For lighter, more casual meals, The Tap Room in the adjacent room has more of a pub feel and serves Adnams beers and gin.
Adnams own The Swan – along with a few other properties in the Southwold area, including the charming 14-bedroom The Crown, and their distillery sits at the back of The Swan. Their signature products are Copper House dry gin (so drinkable!) and Ghost Ship beer which you'll get to taste – plus a whole selection of other artisan spirits – as part of the tour, as well as getting a 10% off voucher so you can stock up on booze in the charming store. It's a brilliant way to learn about their award-winning gin and on some tours you can get creative by making your own.
Southwold is a delight; for seafront walks and fresh Suffolk seafood, there are few better places in the UK. If you like your coastal breaks with a heavy dose of chic then The Swan is the perfect spot. The multi-million pound refurb is well worth it and has created a hotel experience that will be hard to forget - not least because it will live forever more on your Instagram feed.
Rates at The Swan, Southwold start from £200 per room per night including VAT, based on two sharing an Excellent room on a B&B basis. For further information or to book visit www.theswansouthwold.co.uk | 01502 722186