The Swan at Lavenham

Exterior of The Swan at Lavenham

What’s The Swan at Lavenham like?

Lavenham is widely regarded as the best-preserved medieval village in England. Many of its timber-framed buildings date back to the 15th Century – including The Swan at Lavenham Hotel & Spa. This luxurious 45 bedroom property, owned by The Hotel Folk, is one of the finest places to stay in Suffolk. It’s renowned for its fine dining and even finer spa – and it’s dog-friendly to boot.

Ernie at The Swan at Lavenham

How dog-friendly is The Swan at Lavenham?

The hotel has eight pet-friendly rooms and generally, they are on the ground floor or near exits. Up to two dogs can stay at a time for £12 per night. For this, they will get a cute welcome pack with a pop-up bowl, paw wipes, biscuits, toy and poo bags.

Dogs are encouraged to sign their own registration card at check-in – a quirky way of making sure you read the hotel’s pet policy. Your pooch must promise to obey you, not to disrupt other guests or “leave paw prints all over the hotel”.

Pets are welcome in the Airmen’s Bar and lounge areas but not the Gallery Restaurant. Owners can, however, enjoy breakfast with their pooch in the Brasserie, with its original stone floor. Alternatively, pets can choose to dine from the room service menu. Doggy dishes include the Bowser Burger (£6.95) and Crunchy Crudites (£3).

Wooden-beamed Stanstead Suite at The Swan at Lavenham

Tell me more about The Swan at Lavenham

Retreat to your room via a maze of higgledy-piggledy corridors and sloped ceilings. The hotel was once three separate houses and there are signs literally everywhere telling you to watch your head! We stayed in Cockfield – or Room 53 – which is on the ground floor, overlooking a small courtyard garden. There is only one other room nearby so it’s a nice quiet spot.

There are five different room options at the hotel – Classic Double, Superior Double, Feature, Junior Suite and Suite. All rooms have been individually designed and come with all the mod cons, such as free Wifi and flatscreen TVs. Ours also had beamed ceilings, an enormous bed and lots of lovely little touches, such as robes and slippers and complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits. The bathroom was also filled with luxurious Temple Spa toiletries, as used in the onsite Weavers’ House Spa.

If you enjoy being pampered, you really must pencil in time for a treatment here. All hotel guests can enjoy a free two-hour session at the spa, which is a lovely little bonus. This includes access to the sauna, steam room, outdoor vitality pool and relaxation lounge. Treatments can be added on at any time. As a rough guide, expect to pay around £75 for an hour-long massage.

Gallery restaurant at The Swan at Lavenham

What’s the food like at The Swan at Lavenham?

Very special indeed. The grand Gallery Restaurant has two rosette awards and is a beautiful location for a meal. A three-course meal from the contemporary a la carte menu – which boasts dishes such as venison and crispy pork belly – starts from £40. Much of the food is locally sourced. The fresh bread, for example, is made with flour from a nearby farm while the crab is freshly-caught in Cromer.

Wine lovers will appreciate the vast selection on offer in the enormous “wine book”. There is also a separate vegetarian menu and staff are happy to cater for other dietary requirements. Diners can mix and match dishes from the formal restaurant menu with those served in the Brasserie, overlooking the gardens. Here, items include burgers and beer-battered fish and chips.

Make time for a nightcap in the dog-friendly Airmen’s Bar, too. During the Second World War, many servicemen were based at RAF Lavenham. By signing the walls of the bar, they have turned it into a living piece of history. More information about the Swan’s wartime past can be found here.

Historic timber houses in Lavenham

Are there resident dogs at The Swan at Lavenham?

No, but there will probably be other dogs staying or popping in for a pint with their owners.

Where are the best dog walks near The Swan at Lavenham?

With more than 300 listed buildings, Lavenham is a lovely place to enjoy a stroll. From March to October, the National Trust offer regular guided walks around the village for £10 per person. This includes a hot drink and a pastry. The walks generally leave from the Guildhall on Saturdays. I’m sure dogs are allowed to tag along, but check before you book.

If you’re keen to venture a little further afield, check out Essential Suffolk’s 3.5-mile Pub Walk with Darcy. This circular walk starts and finishes at The Greyhound and takes in the gardens of Lavenham Hall. It also tracks part of the former Great Eastern Railway line, which you can follow to Long Melford. There is also plenty of woodland to explore just outside Lavenham – check out the National Trust’s recommended three-mile route here.

Women in the outdoor jacuzzi at Weavers House Spa, Swan at Lavenham

What Ernie loved about The Swan at Lavenham

Having the option to order room service, the doggy welcome pack, relaxing in front of the fire in the lounge

What I loved about The Swan at Lavenham

Being pampered in the Weavers’ House Spa, the delicious food in the restaurant, having so much history on the doorstep

How to book The Swan at Lavenham

Rooms start from £185 per night, based on two people sharing. The price includes a full Suffolk breakfast. For more information or to book a stay, call 01787 247477 or visit the official hotel website by clicking here.

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