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The Swan hotel review: This decadent yet unpretentious bolthole has the Lake District’s first spa garden

The Swan’s impressive facade (The Swan Hotel & Spa)
The Swan’s impressive facade (The Swan Hotel & Spa)

In a nutshell: A family-friendly Lakes bolthole with an exceptional spa and CBD treatments.

The neighbourhood

Benefiting from a picturesque riverside location, complete with gliding swans, grassy terrace and a 15th-century stone bridge, The Swan is conveniently located at the foot of the Lake District, just 20 minutes from the M6. Lake Windermere is a mile away, with Kendall to the east and Ambleside to the north. For a laid-back induction to the region, hop on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway, located five minutes away, for a slice of nostalgia and some glorious scenery.

The look

The Swan has retained all its character despite suffering damage from flooding in 2015 (The Swan Hotel & Spa)
The Swan has retained all its character despite suffering damage from flooding in 2015 (The Swan Hotel & Spa)

The Swan began life in the 17th-century as a coaching inn, but has evolved dramatically in the intervening years. While the whitewashed main building remains, it has been sympathetically restored and expanded. After suffering significant damage in the 2015 floods, the property was substantially refurbished and remains in top-notch condition, with the smell of new paint still detectable in our room. Inside, floral walls, bold prints and sumptuous furnishings abound, alongside more traditional elements, such as oak beams, wooden floorboards and Chesterfield sofas. The hotel also has its own resident artist and illustrator, Olivia Axson, whose work can be found throughout the property.

The vibe

Relaxed, unstuffy and family-friendly, you can feel your shoulders drop upon arrival at The Swan. While the calibre of hotels in this part of the world has continued to grow, The Swan retains a pleasantly unpretentious feel without scrimping on quality. While many guests visit for the pampering on offer, the hotel balances the demands of both kids and adults beautifully. The surrounding countryside speaks for itself, with many visitors to the region keen to explore its many peaks, but it’s too polished to fall into the category of a traditional walker’s hotel.

Bed and bath

The Swan boasts 82 rooms and polished common areas (The Swan Hotel & Spa)
The Swan boasts 82 rooms and polished common areas (The Swan Hotel & Spa)

As part of the recent uplift, The Swan created 26 new bedrooms, including two Splendid suites, Family suites and a bespoke studio cottage for romantic getaways called The Love Nest. However, all 82 rooms and suites have a contemporary feel with blue and green tones reflecting the natural environment. Statement headboards, soft furnishings and wool blankets accompany rainwater showers, while the Loft suites feature exposed beams, roll-top bathtubs and electric log burners for when the weather gets cooler.

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As with everything in the hotel, the emphasis is very much focused on spotlighting local producers, something that extends from the in-room vegan toiletries courtesy of Bath House, to the sustainable carpets made from local wool. Family rooms are spacious, with bespoke bunk beds for little ones and PS4s to keep them entertained. Even the smallest Cosy rooms are attractive, with almost all rooms throughout the hotel offering views over the river or gardens.

Guests planning a romantic night away should opt for the Love Nest, a bright, airy and spacious cottage tucked away within the grounds of the property. Features include a private terrace with outdoor fireplace, double walk-in rainwater showers, roll-top bath and indoor log burner. Many of the rooms offer complimentary access to the Holte Spa, while others require a £20 supplement.

Interiors are spacious and modern (The Swan Hotel & Spa)
Interiors are spacious and modern (The Swan Hotel & Spa)

Food and drink

Eating options on offer at The Swan include the health-conscious SOUL cafe adjacent to the Holte Spa. Here, guests can enjoy light meals such as salads, soups and fish dishes on the outdoor sun terrace, or indulge in homemade cakes and sweet treats. On the other side of the property, the Swan Inn serves up classic pub grub, such as fish and chips, burgers and sandwiches in a bright and cheery space, but it’s the Brasserie that really delivers.

We devoured bouncy and tender scallops and locally sourced beef, while a helpful wine list suggests varieties based on your personal tastes, all contributing to an accessible and unpretentious dining experience. Service was warm, personable and prompt, despite a packed dining room. The hotel also offers afternoon tea on the riverside terrace in good weather.

Pools, spas and public areas

The Swan’s Holte Spa opened to much fanfare in April 2022 as the Lake District’s first spa garden. This multi-million pound extension includes a Finnish sauna, outdoor jacuzzi, and chemical-free hydrotherapy indoor pool that extends outside, with jets and waterfalls to relieve tension. Inside the spa, there are six treatment rooms, experience showers, a sauna and steam room, plus plenty of space to lounge and relax.

The Holte Spa opened in 2022 and includes a partially indoor pool (The Swan Hotel & Spa)
The Holte Spa opened in 2022 and includes a partially indoor pool (The Swan Hotel & Spa)

The spa has partnered with three sustainable brands, including OTO, a leading CBD brand, Ground Wellbeing, a natural and plant-based Irish brand, and Comfort Zone, a B-Corp certified skincare. We opted for the OTO Signature CBD Massage Experience which ranks as one of the best massages I’ve ever had. A dream combination of experienced hands, CBD oils and a bamboo roller designed to iron out muscular kinks induced a profoundly deep state of relaxation that saw me floating back to my room with a smile on my face. Other treatments include a Balancing Ritual specifically aimed at perimenopausal and menopausal guests, and a signature Walkers Massage designed to ease aching limbs after a day on the fells.

An onsite health club includes a larger pool, hot tub and sauna which was largely populated by families during our visit.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to chill out in with a book, play a round of pool, or sip a drink on the riverside terrace. Kids can also enjoy an adventure playground and nature trail.

Nuts and bolts

Room count: 82 rooms and suites and four cottages.

Wifi: Free.

Extra charges: Guests in Cosy, Lovely and Fabulous rooms must pay a £20 surcharge for Holte Spa access.

Disability access: Four accessible rooms with extra space and walk-in showers. The Swan Inn, Holte Spa, health club and snug areas are all accessible for wheelchair users and all external entrances have ramps for guests.

Pet policy: Pet pooches are welcome in selected rooms for a £35 nightly surcharge.

Bottom line

Best thing: The OTO CBD massage experience. Sublime. I’ve waxed lyrical about it to anyone prepared to listen ever since my visit.

Worst thing: While easily accessible, the nearby A590 is a busy road meaning the hotel isn’t the best spot for those seeking a quiet and remote stay.

Perfect for: Families and spa fanatics.

Not right for: Those seeking a hushed getaway. The hotel is busy and there are plenty of intergenerational families with children around.

Instagram from: The outdoor pool at the Holte Spa.

More information: swanhotel.com

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