The Swan Southwold: an idyllic seaside escape

Why go

When it comes to seaside breaks, Suffolk often gets overlooked for swankier destinations like Cornwall or Devon, and that's a crying shame, and if you've ever been to Southwold, where the Swan Hotel lives, you'll know why. It's basically as quaint as seaside towns get, and you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stepped back in time when you wander around the gorgeous antique shops and cafes.

In the heart of it all, on the market place, stands the Swan and its adjoining Adnams brewery, which has been used for over 600 years.

The vibe

Although the hotel was purchased by Ernest and George Adnams in 1872, it has recently been given a makeover. Out with the old, in with the new, although that's not to say the eclectic and contemporary decor doesn't pay homage to the building's history. In the Drawing Room, an 18th century portrait of a lady overlooks plush acid green sofas and industrial lighting mixes in nicely with vintage seaside knick knacks. You'll definitely feel at home here.

The room

If you thought the downstairs was nice, wait 'til you see the rooms. Touches of neon clash (in a good way) with the more muted pastel shades you'll find in your room, and quirky prints adorn the walls. The seaside theme is carried throughout in subtle ways, from the rope-adorned side tables to driftwood furniture, and I loved the 50s nods such as the old dial-phone.

You'll also be treated to all the mod cons, from TV to Bose speakers and a Nespresso machine, as well as local gin - when in Rome and all that. You can also enjoy a butler service (yes, really) for all your needs during your stay, big or small.

(Image credit: Adams The Swan Southwold

The food

(Image credit:

Honestly, don't bother leaving the hotel for food (well, perhaps make an exception for some fish 'n' chips or ice cream on the beach), it really is second to none. You have two options: the Tap Room, if you're into more of a cosy pub vibe, or the Still Room for something a little fancier, both of which serve delicious seasonal fares created with local produce.

On the first night, we loved the asparagus and parmesan risotto and baked camembert, while on the second night, the confit duck leg pastillas, and loin of lamb with croquette of braised shoulder and carrot, cumin and radish spiced couscous were to die for, and do save yourselves some room for dessert, as the tarts and cheese are divine.

Of course, it would be rude not to try the beer and gin straight from the brewery. The Rising Sun Gin (matcha tea & lemongrass) was a particular highlight, refreshingly served with elderflower tonic and garnished with ginger and lime zest.


Starting rates at The Swan Southwold are £200 on a B&B basis based on two people sharing.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.