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The Swan Hotel and Spa, Newby Bridge, Lake District
With its riverside position near the southern end of Lake Windermere, The Swan has one of the prettiest hotel settings of the Lake District. And the lake is just a five-minute drive. A real all-rounder, with stylish indoor/outdoor spa for the grown-ups, pool for the family plus children's playroom, it has strikingly bold-coloured interiors despite its traditional white-washed, coaching-inn exterior. In addition to bedrooms in the main hotel - from cosy to large loft suites - there are three cottages, from a romantic nest for two to a family gathering space for eight people. All-day food is served in the large rustic bar while the restaurant has smarter evening dining, plus there's a lovely riverside terrace for drinks on warmer days. It's a big and buzzing sort of place with plenty of cheery staff.
A short drive - or roadside walk - away is the starting point for an easy climb up Gummer's How, which gives stunning views over the Lakes and the coast.
The lake cruise pier is five-minutes drive away, as well as the station for the Lakeside and Haverthwaite steam railway.
By car: 1 hour 30 minutes from Manchester, 3 hours 15 minutes from Edinburgh and just under 5 hours from London. There is free parking on-site.
By train: trains run from Manchester Piccadilly (just over 1 hour), London Euston (3 hours) and Edinburgh (2 hours) to Oxenholme Lake District station. The hotel is a 25-minute taxi ride from the station. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
It's definitely aimed at the young and young-at-heart who like a buzzy atmosphere; minimalists and traditionalists not so much. The colours and patterns, from blowsy florals to dazzling geometrics, are fun and inviting.
Service & Facilities
Although it's a big hotel - 84 rooms - I always found somewhere peaceful to sit, whether in the bar, sitting-room or outside. Dogs are welcome in some ground floor rooms and some cottages, and receive blankets, towels, treats and bowls. They're allowed throughout the hotel apart from the dining room and health club areas.
- Indoor/ outdoor spa
- Finnish sauna
- Swimming pool
- Free parking
- Games room
The Loft suites are stunning - with whitewashed floors and roll-top baths - but otherwise, we'd plump for any river-view room. Higher-grade rooms also include free spa access. The locally produced Bath House products come in big chunky containers and have a delicious, fresh scent.
Cosy, Lovely and Fabulous rooms, Loft, Family, Beatrix & Potter suites, The Dormouse, The Hedgehog, The Mallard, The Owl Nest and The Love Nest cottages
Facilities include: ensuite bathroom, king size beds, individual design, free Wi-Fi, room service
Food & Drink
The mismatched chairs, bright colours, scrubbed or zinc-topped tables made all meals - whatever the weather outside - warm and jolly. If it's warm enough, breakfast on the terrace is a treat.
The Swan Inn: relaxed all-day dining, comfort food. Open for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Mains from £14.50.
Cygneture Brasserie: formal fine dining, modern British cuisine. Open for dinner. Mains from £15.50.