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Short stay: The Swan Hotel, Newby Bridge, Cumbria, UK

The Swan Hotel is a former sixteenth-century coaching inn that has been extended to become virtually a Lake District resort. Ivy grows on whitewashed walls that overlook the five arches of the narrow 1651 Newby Bridge. Meanwhile the River Leven that sedately flows towards Lake Windermere. After flooding in December 2015, The Swan Hotel rose revitalised from murky waters with colourful, vibrant flare. Public areas are decorated with custom made wallpaper featuring giant macaws. There is a jaunty confidence to the restaurant’s decor: dark navy blue walls and cerise banquettes topped with chintzy floral backs. But there’s farmhouse tradition too, with a flint stone fireplace, willow pattern crockery for breakfast and local wicker work art. The welcome With social distancing a priority, a gateman checks that visitors have a reservation for drinks, a meal or a room before guiding them to an extensive car park. With registration details previously collected online, check-in is more of a friendly welcome chat, sat in Reception’s chairs, than formal. Staff are largely local, young and warmly welcoming. A lift takes guests to the first two floors but not to the third floor. Help is on hand to carry cases up a final flight of stairs to the third floor if that is where you are staying. The room Between Fabulous Loft and Lovely Loft runs Cosy Loft – cosy in a warm and homely sense rather than cramped. As well as a bedroom hosting a super king size bed, there is also a lounge area. Bold oriental scenes of pagodas, tea-garden bridges and palm trees are etched in white on a cheerful turquoise wall-paper, a theme continued on the two seater sofa. Think James Bond for a key fob that raises a television from the foot the bed. Air-conditioning is on standby for balmy days. The bathroom Essentially there are two. A decadently deep roll-top bath features in the bedroom. Then, through an Alice in Wonderland small door, there is a shower in the bright white marble effect bathroom with gleaming stainless steel fittings. By bath and shower there are generously sized bottles of Espa body wash, hand lotion, hand wash, purifying shampoo and refreshing conditioner. Most with Espa’s gently reviving citrus notes. Facilities As well as a bar menu, The Cyngature Restaurant has a brasserie menu, featuring upmarket pub grub. “Posh nosh” as the The Swan likes to call it, immaculately sourced from local suppliers. Morecambe prawns potted with gin, served on a crunchy topped crumpet that captures the sauce, is a favourite starter. Steaks and salmon are popular mains though a lamb tagine with vegetable couscous is a zingy lakeside take on Moroccan cuisine. Inevitably, sticky toffee pudding, possibly originating locally from Cumbria or maybe Yorkshire or even Scotland – depending on who you listen too – is a must-have dessert round these parts. With the recipe unchanged for 15 years, The Swan’s sticky toffee pudding is a winner. After refurbishments during lockdown The Swan’s spa is ready to open, as will the indoor pool as soon as permitted. For children there’s also an outdoor adventure park and a nature trail to follow. Parents can also request night-time milk and cookies. Location Just 15 minutes from the M6 along the fast-moving A 590, The Swan is easy to access and an ideal base for exploring the Southern Lakes. Both The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction and Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top are around a 15 minute drive away. Other nice touches This is a family friendly hotel. The Beatrix Potter suite has interconnecting rooms plus PlayStation and Dolls House to occupy children. Dogs, with several dog-friendly rooms plus The Nests self-catering cottages, are welcomed with a bowl of water, towel for a rub-down and a treat too. Cost Rooms, with breakfast, begin from £180, whilst suites start at £270. The best bit Alongside the River Leven there is an attractive al fresco area of lacey white chairs and tables shaded by parasols. Guests, non-residents and sailors moored up at The Swan’s marina all enjoy breakfast, lunch, drinks or dinner watching ducks, kayaks and paddle-boarders float by. It is an utterly idyllic spot for a relaxed afternoon tea. The final verdict With spectacular cycling and walking routes from the door, several National Trust properties within an easy drive and a vast array of water sports nearby the hotel, The Swan Hotel is a relaxed and luxurious base for exploring the southern lakes If the weather’s wet there’s plenty on hand at the hotel to keep guests – and their children – occupied. Disclosure: Our visit was sponsored by The Swan Hotel.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. That top picture is incredible. Amazing autumn colours. It could be New England in the fall. Can’t see any other buildings in the picture, the hotel looks to be nicely isolated. Should be very quiet and restful.

  2. I liked the look of the Swan so I got my atlas out. Even better it seems to be quite accessible. The last time we went to the lakes it was almost an hour from the motorway to our cottage. And it wasn’t easy driving. Narrow, twisting roads aren’t what you want after a morning’s driving. Location must be a huge plus for the hotel especially from people who are just there for a weekend or a short break.

  3. I can’t remember the last time I holidayed in the U.K. but this year the thought of wearing a mask on a plane for several hours and the extra risks of infection have put me off flying.

    Staying at somewhere like The Swan could be the silver lining of the cloud. If we we went to the Lakes we’d be outdoorsy and active but we’d want to come back to loads of great food in the evening and somewhere very comfortable. What I would miss is the chance to sit at the bar and get to know other people dropping in or staying there.

    1. Yeah I reckon I feel the same about that bit with flying. I didn’t think it would take this long to have things getting back to normal. But it was certainly a wake-up call not to take traveling for granted.

  4. I’ve sadly not been back since I was younger but Lake Windermere is a beautiful area. Most of the Lake District is, it’s second to none in the UK in my opinion. This makes me very eager to go back one day. I’d always hoped to but we ended up moving gradually further south over the years so it’s not as convenient to get there. It’s the cost of travel that’s off-putting but maybe we can pack the car and drive up next year. I keep thinking of things I want to do and places I want to go when the pandemic is over. I bet a lot of people are feeling like this.

    What a shame that the hotel suffered flooding. It sounds like they did well with the revamp to give it a new lease of life. I really like the slightly quirkier colourful decor in the rooms, very chic and homely. I wish we had bathrooms like that in our house! It’s great they offer dog friendly rooms too, that would be so helpful for dog owners as I rarely come across places that allow dogs. Not bad prices either for a lovely hotel with brekkie. I’ll keep this in mind. I can see myself sitting outside to eat al fresco already!

  5. By the looks of it, the hotel certainly feels like a home away from home. The surrounding is perfect for a nice morning or afternoon walk and the available water based activities will surely keep the whole family entertained. The location of the hotel is also good since it is close to a lake as well as the highway, which makes it accessible. The Swan Hotel also offers dog-friendly rooms and gaming consoles. These features are not normally found in hotels especially in the city. I would love to see the interior of the rooms and other amenities because it looks exquisite in pictures. It seems to complement the furnitures and complete the luxurious look of the hotel inside and out. I would definitely choose to stay here for a short break or a weekend getaway with my family. I hope that this pandemic will be over soon so I can travel back to the UK again and maybe explore other places.

  6. What draws me in the most in the way the room is decorated. I really like the way the wallpaper looks matched with that off-pink color. It’s nice to see something different like that, it makes the room warm and cozy. And of course who wouldn’t want some crunchy prawns at a fancy hotel like that?

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