Swan Hotel: ‘Lashings of Cumbrian warmth and charm’
- Credit: Archant
The Lake District has just been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bridget Galton visited a spa hotel to try out its walking tours of the scenery that inspired Beatrix Potter and Wordsworth.
Eject all thoughts of artex-walled, musty tea-rooms and coach parties slurping canned soup, The Swan is the kind of hotel you hope to find at the end of a long damp walk in the Lakes.
Thirty minutes drive from the high speed train that whizzed us to Lancashire from Euston in under two and a half hours, we arrived at this delightful 17th Century hostelry next to an old stone bridge by the river Leven at the southern tip of Lake Windermere.
So close is the river, that the hotel has flooded twice in recent years, and the most recent deluge proved an opportunity for a complete revamp.
Recently re-opened, this superior four star is owned and run by women, even the chef is a woman. And it’s probably women who will love its cosy riot of Designer’s Guild patterns, oodles of pink, floral and patterned wallpaper, stylish but comfy sofas and extensive gin menu.
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It may be design-led – it will please the discerning Cheshire and London set – but it’s also got lashings of Cumbrian warmth and charm, and the female influence means there’s great attention to the kind of detail that makes the difference in a good hotel.
With a swimming pool and play area boasting lovely views, it’s a great bet for families who can eat in the in-house pub at big wooden tables served by staff who don’t baulk at jammy hands.
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I was trying The Swan’s Lakeland Walking Package, which includes a hearty breakfast and a guided walk with packed lunch.
Graded by ability, the 3-6 hour hikes through spectacular countryside such as Scafell Pike, Skiddaw, Bowfell or Helm Crag can be suitable for the whole family. Some include transport to starting points, but we took the quaint Lakeside and Haverthwaite steam train from behind the hotel up to the dock where you can take boat cruises across Windermere.
Following a route over stiles through sheep-dotted fields brought us to woodland. A rocky path grew steeper and led to a circular lake walk where we stopped on a bench for a stellar view, flask of tea and delicious homemade brownies.
A wise woman once said ‘you don’t come to the Lakes for the sun,’ so a spot of damp weather didn’t phase us as we traced a different route back downhill to the hotel.
After your exertions, you can warm aching bones in the hotel’s sauna, steam room or Jacuzzi, but I was treated to a top quality back and shoulder massage in the spa which left me feeling blissfully relaxed.
Having worked up an appetite, we dived into a menu that’s nicely varied from the usual British fare. There is steak or fish and chips, but also Parathas, Thai curries, delicious veggie options and big tasty salads.
After all that, I slid between Egyptian cotton sheets in a fabulous king sized bed and slept soundly. The Love Nest is pale pink cottage chic with a freestanding bath, huge shower, sitting room and a kitchen stocked with shortbread, butter, locally baked bread and jam.
Couples would enjoy the equally splendid adult only Loft Suites, or families can book one of four luxury self-catering Nests.
With stunning walks, visits to Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in Grasmere, or Beatrix Potter’s former house at Hill Top, there’s plenty to warrant a four night stay to explore an area that UNESCO has justifyably declared one of the wonders of the world.
A Cosy Room starts from £142 per night bed and breakfast for two people. The Love Nest starts at £1,200 based on a min four-night stay for two people. The Lakeland Walking Package costs from £99 pp per night based on a Thursday night stay in A Cosy Room and Friday morning walk.
Swanhotel.com. Bookings 01539531681.