What is the story?
Although the views from the Swan overlook the River Leven rather than a lake, you won’t feel cheated. Overlooking an arched stone bridge over a serene stretch of the river and chunks of Lakeland falls beyond, its setting is arguably more intimate. The town of Windermere is a 20 minute drive by road. You won’t complain about its recent £7million addition either: 30 chic new rooms and suites and a luxury spa.
What do we like?
The new “Splendid” rooms, bolted to the side of this 17th-century whitewashed inn, are beauties and, for the lakes – where rates can be alarmingly high – good value. Drawing inspiration from the soothing greens and slate blues of Cumbria, they have geometric wallpaper Thibaut and coveted textured lamps with Pooky shades. Soothing eco-friendly credentials include sustainable mango wood furniture, local Herdwick wool rugs, and compostable coffee machine capsules.
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Ethical considerations are also at the fore in the six-room Holte Spa, with facials from British brand OTO using cannabidiol (CBD) and excellent relaxing rituals from Ground Wellbeing. Its indoor thermal suite includes a sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy pool with a multi-jet swim, whirlpool and second sauna.
In the hotel’s maze of lounges, adorned with inky blue and vermilion pink paintings and powerful floral wallpapers, you’d think you were trapped in a florist’s shop. Fortunately, there are plans to redevelop the ground floor next year, then the existing 51 rooms.
The food remains local, with Cartmel Valley smoked salmon and Herdwick Barnsley chops on the menu. In the beamed main restaurant my supper of sea trout with chive butter and tender broccoli (£20) was tasty and my lunch in the spa cafe was poached salmon, roast cauliflower and vegetable couscous (£15.50) was full of flavor and value.
Hire rowboats or paddle boards from nearby Stoked Watersports and float downstream to Windermere (stokedwatersports.co.uk). Alternatively, the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway from Newby Bridge drops you off at Windermere’s Lakeside Pier in minutes, with connections to Bowness or Ambleside (lakesiderailway.co.uk). Medieval Cartmel is home to the three-Michelin-star L’Enclume restaurant, crowd-free walks through pretty woodlands and views over Morecambe Bay (tasting menu £195, lenclume.co.uk).
Susan d’Arcy was a guest at the Swan Hotel, which has double rooms from £120 and Splendid double rooms from £200, including free access to the thermal suite (usually £40); mains from £14.50 (swanhotel.com)
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