Anchored to the Adnams brewery and distillery, The Swan Southwold is a lively cocktail of Georgian architecture, modern maritime style and award-winning booze. Part of the town for hundreds of years, this historic hotel and brewery survived fire and financial ruin before coming together to offer a unique (and free flowing) form of hospitality. Ocean blues, nautical artwork and weathered antiques ensure the hotel’s got plenty of coastal character, but a complete refurbishment saw them infused with bold, bright colours and copper details borrowed from the distillery next door. Sample the best of Suffolk’s fields and waters in the Still Room and sip all things Adnams in the Tap Room, leaving the rest to your butler, who can arrange everything from restaurant bookings to brewery tours.
Get this when you book through us:
A seasonal Adnams gift bag; GoldSmiths also get locally made chocolates
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $212.97 (£171), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
Rates usually include the hotel’s à la carte breakfast. Keep things light with pastries and fruit from the Continental buffet, or go hearty with a Full English, made with bacon and sausages sourced by nearby farms. Eggs can be done however you like them.
If you’re wondering why the hotel has Georgian exteriors when it’s over 400 years old, it’s because it was completely destroyed – along with most of the town – in Southwold’s great fire of 1659.
Outstanding Rooms offer serious leg room, with space for a separate lobby, living area and a king- or superking-size bed. The Fabulous Rooms around the garden are the only ones without four-poster beds, so you might want to ask for a different room if you’ve got your heart set on sleeping in one.
Don’t forget your cycling gear – you can bring your own bike or hire one at the hotel; just ask your butler to arrange it.
All the common areas are wheelchair accessible, and there’s a lift to all floors. Room 47 is specially adapted, and has a wet room shower with a fixed seat.
Pets can stay for a flat fee of £10 each. Dogs aren't allowed in any of the public areas, only in the Garden Rooms. If you don’t want to leave your pooch alone, you’ll need to dine in-room or in the Courtyard (which is open in the summer). See more pet-friendly hotels in Suffolk.
All ages are very welcome. The hotel run a ‘cygnet’ programme for children, which includes stickers, a postcard from the manager and a teddy bear. There’s a Hamley’s draughts game in each room, and Garden Rooms open onto an enclosed lawn.
The Swan sends its food waste to an anaerobic digester that provides renewable energy for Adnams’ brewing operations, and recycles cardboard and plastics; the housekeeping team use eco-friendly cleaning products. They’re also keen on conservation: the hotel keeps 250,000 bees in hives at Reydon, and many of the staff are regulars at Southwold beach cleans.
In the Still Room, we’d go for one of the tables around the outside of the room, where it tends to be a little quieter.
Keep it shipshape with stripes and patterns in white, navy and ocean blue.
The Still Room takes many of its design cues from the distillery next door, the most obvious being the being the gleaming copper bar, which is lit by four still-shaped lamps. Over the tables, lights are hidden inside cases of wine bottles – a nod to Adnams’ wine makers across the channel. The menu is the work of chef Rory Whelan, who’s kept things as local as possible: seafood like scorched mackerel and hand-collected scallops champion the bounty of the local waters; meat offerings like duck breast and pork fillet fly the standard for Suffolk’s fields and fens. You’ll have no trouble finding an appropriate tipple to pair with, either – there’s a lengthy selection of Adnams beers and a wine list curated by the hotel's commercial director, James Davis, who's a certified Master of Wine.
With brewing and distilling happening right on the doorstep, we think it’s fair to say that the Tap Room is the hotel’s heart – at least in spirit. This smart gastropub is the most maritime-influenced room in the hotel, complete with dark blue banquettes, bulbs hanging from thick ropes and white tiles emblazoned with nautical symbols. Things are just as impressive behind the bar, too, with 12 gleaming taps dispensing Adnams beer and all of the distillery’s offerings arranged across the shelves. The food is less formal than the Still Room but cooked with just as much love; try the battered monkfish with triple-cooked chips or the ribeye steak, best paired with the Argentine Malbec.
The Still Room opens for breakfast from 8am to 10.30am; lunch from noon to 2.30pm; dinner from 6pm to 9.30pm. The Drawing Room is open for coffee and cake from 10am to 5pm (afternoon tea is served from 3pm to 5pm).
Breakfast can be served in-room for a small charge. While the restaurant is open, you can order most dishes from the Still Room and Tap Room menus. Sandwiches and drinks are available after hours.
The Swan is on the high street in Southwold, a charming seaside town on the Suffolk Coast.
The closest airport in Norwich, just over an hour’s drive away. Flights touch down there from Manchester, Edinburgh and Exeter. If those aren’t convenient, you’re best off flying to London Stansted Airport, around two hours’ drive from the hotel. The hotel can organise private, one-way transfers for £150 from Norwich or £225 from Stansted.
If you’re by coming by rail, take a train to Ipswich or Norwich, then hop on to a regional service to Darsham, the closest local station. If you’re travelling from London, you might want to get off at Ipswich and have a car take you the rest of the way – the connecting train to Darsham can be unreliable.
Southwold is small enough that you won’t need a car, but having one will make trips along the coast a breeze. If you do want to hire, the Smith24 can arrange it. There’s onsite parking at the hotel, too.
Worth getting out of bed for
The Adnams brewery and distillery has become one of the most eco-friendly and forward-thinking in the country, making a tour worthwhile even if you’ve done a few before. If that isn’t hands-on enough for you, ask your butler to book you onto a gin-making class, held by one of Adnams’ expert gin makers. They’ll guide you through the entire process – from selecting your own choice of botanicals right through to labelling – so you can leave with a bespoke 70cl bottle of your very own gin. If you feel the need to offset your indulgence, join the free yoga class that runs each week (the day and time varies throughout the year). Backed by a row of vibrant beach huts, Southwold beach makes a fine swimming spot from July to September, when a lifeguard is on duty 10am–6pm. The modest waves make it ideal for paddle boarding and surfing lessons too – both can be arranged through the hotel. Another guest favourite is crabbing; those in the know head to Walberswick, a 30-minute walk along the coast. You might want to stop off at the Black Olive Deli along the High Street before you go, as Southwold crabs seem to have Continental tastes, proving partial to salami and Parma ham. If the weather isn’t playing ball, decamp to the Electric Picture Palace, a 70-seat independent cinema that screens a mixture of new art house films and classics. It’s got all the hallmarks of a retro picture house, including a manager in a dinner jacket and a ‘Tiny Wurlitzer’ organ that pipes up during the interval.
For brunch or a light lunch, stop in at the Two Magpies Bakery, who do a roaring trade in artisanal bread, flaky pastries, sourdough toasties and seasonal hotpots. They’re big on provenance and believe people should know what they’re eating, which is one of the reasons you can see right into the business end of the bakery, where the loaves are fired in a four-tiered oven. On Saturdays, the ovens are also used to make sourdough pizza. For the rest of the week, you can do no better than Enzo’s Pizzeria, run single-handedly by its eponymous owner. The Fulham FC memorabilia on the walls attests to Enzo’s other great love affair, but make no mistake, this place only exists because of his raw passion for handmade pizza. Booking is essential and Enzo only accepts cash. Occupying a building that dates from the 1400s, Sutherland House is the place for a really memorable dinner – if you can get a table, that is. The restaurant’s reputation and award-winning meat dishes (their black pudding is famous) mean it often gets booked up weeks in advance.
You won’t find anywhere better for beer or cocktails than the hotel’s own bar, the Tap Room.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this hotel in Suffolk and unpacked their bottle of Adnams Copper House Gin, a full account of their English seaside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Swan in Southwold…
Serving the local brew is fairly common for a hotel these days, but it’s not often you come across one that gets its drinks from right next door. But then, most hotels aren’t like the Swan, which has sat side-by-side with a brewery for hundreds of years. Ale was first brewed here as far back as 1345, and the records show that beer was served to royalist soldiers when they arrived to proclaim the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. In short, beer is the lifeblood of this hotel, and with the Swan and the brewery both owned by eco-friendly brewer Adnams, they’ve never been more intertwined. Naturally, the Swan’s a hit with anyone who likes good beer, but this brightly feathered bird is much more than a pub with rooms. A comprehensive refurbishment saw attention lavished on the interiors by London-based design firm Project Orange, who’ve taken the hotel into the 21st century with duck-egg greys, baby blues and the occasional burst of lime green. This bold refit couldn’t be better timed: Adnams branched out into spirits in 2010, establishing a distillery that quickly became famous for its award-winning gin and vodka, attracting the more cocktail-oriented traveller to town.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Swan Southwold’s Guestbook below.
The room was spacious, clean and airy, with a comfy bed and lounge area. Good parking.
A spa, a pool, or chocolate with the turn down service.
Stayed on 28 Apr 2019
Food in Southwold is excellent. The hotel has a small but delicious menu.
Service is a little slow.
Stayed on 26 Apr 2019
We loved the warm welcome and cheery staff. Nothing was too much trouble. For breakfast there was a good choice and dinner was amazing. Rooms are smart and spacious and we had the added bonus you get from a garden room – an outdoor seating area, which was the perfect spot to catch the last rays of sunshine at the end of the day.
Don't expect noise or grumpy staff.
Stayed on 24 Apr 2019
We really like the decor in the rooms and the facilities were pretty good.
An amazing breakfast selection. Lively, crazy evenings.
Stayed on 20 Apr 2019
The rooms in this refurbished historic pub and brewery are gorgeous - stylishly furnished, very comfortable four-poster bed with high thread-count linen and a huge bathroom with fab complimentary products. There were lovely personal touches such as freshly-baked cookies in the room plus a goody bag with a hand-written note from the manager. Staff were helpful and friendly. Breakfast was delicious.
Sports facilities - you have beautiful walks right on your doorstep, plus the sea is a three-minute walk if you're feeling brave!
Stayed on 14 Apr 2019
The staff were extremely helpful, advising us on everything from the weather to the best coastal walks. Breakfast was varied and delicious and set you up for the day - although we found space for afternoon tea, complete with yummy scones. The products in the bathroom were fantastic and a great touch to include a moisturizer too. The central location was perfect for walking to the beach and to the local shops.
Lively nightlife in early spring!
Stayed on 2 Apr 2019
The whole weekend was amazing. The staff had a generous spirit and attention to detail, the food was fabulous and the drink choices were excellent.There were lots of lovely little extras - gin, beer and chocolate in the room were all complimentary. The location in the centre of Southwold is excellent - it was the best weekend break that we have had and we're desperate to return for a second visit.
Loud night life - it is calm, enjoyable and relaxing.
Stayed on 23 Mar 2019
Fabulous statement re-design and refurbishment of an old favourite. The formal dining is very good and, as an alternative, the bar and snack offerings are fun.
Shabby chic and chintz.
Stayed on 21 Mar 2019
The luxurious and peaceful garden rooms with superb decor.
The lovely aroma from the Adnams Brewery next door and the backdrop of the stunningly impressive lighthouse.
Stayed on 18 Mar 2019
The hotel, the staff, the rooms, the food and the location! The hotel décor is chic-boutique meets seaside. The staff, without exception, were all so friendly and helpful. The rooms are fitted out with everything you'll need for a restful relaxing stay — the bed was so comfy. The food in both the Tap Room and the Still Restaurant was absolutely superb. Breakfast was outstanding and well worth getting up for. The location is perfect — right in the centre of gorgeous, quaint Southwold. Officially my 'happy place'.
Don't expect to be disappointed. It's fabulous.
Stayed on 9 Mar 2019
Fabulous location, close to the sea. The rooms were immaculate and very well appointed. The gin was a lovely touch!
Stayed on 2 Mar 2019
Very comfortable room, friendly and efficient service, good food, great balance of luxury and informality.
Formal service, dress code, extensive menu.
Stayed on 19 Jan 2019
All of it! Gorgeous hotel, small but perfectly formed.
Razmatazz and sparkles – all very understated and calm.
Stayed on 2 Jan 2019
Southwold is a time machine trip back to a tasteful seaside town, a perfect destination for a short break. The one year after refurbishment Swan Hotel is in a killer location on the market square making all of Southwold's quality shops and pubs a very short walk away. The Hotel interiors a beautifully presented with a modern feel that also makes use of the building's many period features. the public areas are a delight. We stayed in a garden room which was well appointed and comfortable the only downside being that the bathroom of Room 30 backs onto the Brewery next door resulting in an early awakening to the clanging of barrels. The garden rooms form a square around a garden and are deservedly popular with dog owners in a hotel which is both child and dog friendly. Staying in a garden room includes outside space if the weather is clement. Service is relaxed, friendly and efficient and the menu and quality of breakfast was very good. The hotel has good secure parking on site.
Formality or modern bathroom design and equipment.