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Review: The Swan at Lavenham, Suffolk

This ancient building in the heart of stunning Lavenham has managed to retain all of its charm while simultaneously moving with the times. This Suffolk village made its fortune in the wool trade many centuries ago, and to the casual visitor it doesn’t appear much has changed since. Multi-coloured cottages line the high street, randomly interspersed with the larger houses no doubt built by the people who pulled the strings in the wool trade. At the top of the hill the imposing church stands watch over the idyll beneath.

The Swan at Lavenham takes prime position amid all this ancient charm and, with oak beams and open fires aplenty, the residents lounge reflects the architecture of the village. There are 45 bedrooms in this deceptively large hotel which not surprisingly does extremely well out of the foreign tourist trade. There are close connections with nearby USAF bases Mildenhall and Lakenheath and these stretch all the way back to the Second World War.

The Stanstead room has more oak timbers than the Mary Rose.

In the bar there are hand-written records on the wood panels of record times for drinking a boot of ale. We decided not to try and compete during this stay! Our enchanting bedroom (Stanstead) featured more oak timbers than the Mary Rose and, despite a less than even floor, delivered a very comfortable night’s sleep indeed.

Eating like a king in The Swan at Lavenham

We enjoyed a sumptuous meal in the Gallery restaurant. Seafood features heavily on the menu and two stand out dishes were the sea bass fillet with warm chick pea and onion cream salad, curried cauliflower purée and the cod with saffron and chorizo rice, mussels, smoked trout and tempura of king prawn. The duo of Suffolk pork wasn’t half bad either. I defy anyone to walk away hungry from this dining room, as the well cooked food is delivered in portions designed to last. There are also a number of private dining options at the Swan and the McCallum room in particular is designed with shooting parties in mind. There is a store room, with one key access, which is ideal for overnight shotgun storage, and dogs are also welcome in the ground floor rooms with easy access to the garden – at a charge of £10 per night. During our stay work was underway for the installation of a new spa facility.

The McCallum room offers perfect private dining for shoot parties.

If you are heading to Suffolk on a shooting trip this season then you will struggle to find a more fitting place for you and your team to relax before and after a day in the field.

Shooting Gazette scores for The Swan at Lavenham

Catering: Well-cooked local ingredients make for an excellent breakfast and dinner. 8/10

Accommodation: There are 45 bedrooms offering plenty of charm, although they are far from cheap with double rooms starting at £195. 7/10

Atmosphere: Medieval charm blends well with the requirements of a 21st century hotel. This is a place for gentle relaxation and slowing down the pace of life. 8/10

Service: Well-trained staff know when to butt in and when to back off. 8/10

Suitability for shooters: You won’t ever feel like you have the place to yourselves but other than that it’s bang on the money. 8/10

Total: 39/50

Cost of a double room at The Swan at Lavenham: From £195.

Shoots close to The Swan at Lavenham: Stowlangtoft, Six Mile Bottom and Braxted Park.

The Swan at Lavenham contact: 01787 247477 or visit

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