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The Swan Hotel & Spa

Lake District, Cumbria, England

This prettily situated, riverside inn has been extended into a modern, family-friendly hotel without losing its charm. Rooms are exuberantly coloured, the atmosphere relaxed, and there's a pool and playground for the children, and a spa for the grown-ups.


9 / 10

In a textbook riverside location – stone-arched bridge, quacking ducks, grassy terrace – the hotel is a five-minute drive from the southern end of Lake Windermere and just off the A590/A592 junction. As the former is the main southern route into the Lakes from the M6 (15 minutes) and the latter leads to the central Lakes, the hotel is well-connected: Bowness and Ambleside to the north, Kendal to the east and southern Lakes' attractions such as Cartmel village are all within 20 to 30 minutes. Or hop on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite steam railway, a five-minute-walk away, whose terminus is beside the cruise-boats' pier on Windermere.

Style & character

8 / 10

The white-washed, 17th-century coaching inn is a Lakeland landmark. It was seriously affected in the 2015 December floods, but six months later re-opened in style with bold, floral- and bird-patterned wallpapers, and furnishings in hot cottage-garden colours set against rustic wooden floors, exposed slate walls and oak panelling. It sounds unlikely – and there is a lot of pink – but it works. There are nooks and crannies to sit quietly or bigger spaces for family gatherings.

Service & facilities

9 / 10

Almost a mini-resort hotel, you could potter around all day enjoying its pool and sauna, mini Espa-spa, walks from the front door – organised ones, too, on Wednesdays – and drinks on the riverbank-terrace while watching activity in the nearby marina. For children, there's an adventure playground and nature trail plus indoor playroom with lilac pool table, games and toys. Packed lunches, secure bike storage and clothes-drying facilities are provided for the energetic. The place buzzes with young, cheery staff (most locally born) always eager to help.

  • Parking
  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • Wi-Fi
  • Steam room/hammam
  • Sauna


8 / 10

All 54 rooms and suites have a modern, country-fresh feel with blowsy feature wallpapers, headboards and cushions in dazzling fruit-drop colours, set against deep blue or cream-coloured walls, coffee-coloured carpets or wood-effect flooring. There are smart upholstered armchairs in soft greens, pinks and lilacs, with most rooms having limed-wood-effect Provençal-style furniture. The 'Fabulous' rooms and Loft suites are the most striking with pale tongue-and-groove panelling, white marble-effect bathrooms plus white-painted floorboards, exposed beams and roll-top baths in the latter. Even the smallest 'Cosy' rooms are comfortable, and very pretty. While bathrooms aren't huge, they all have Espa products, and most rooms have views over gardens or river.

Food & drink

7 / 10

This is where The Swan disappoints. More pub than 'hotel dining', the all-day menu runs from soup and sandwiches to pizzas, flatbreads and a small range of pub classics such as scampi, Thai green curry or steak and chips. Flavours are punchy and portions filling, but it's very average cooking (mains around £15). Eat in the strikingly pink River Room or in the scrubbed-tables-and mis-matched-chairs bar. The latter offers four real ales and a short wine list, starting from a rather pricey £25. Breakfast has a modest buffet and hot dishes – including full Cumbrian, avocado on toast, bacon sandwich – which have the feel of having waited around. But the service is cheery.

Value for money

8 / 10

Double rooms from £110, year-round. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.

Access for guests with disabilities?

There are two adapted rooms and a lift. 


Families are made very welcome with eight family suites or extra beds in other rooms charged at £30 (including breakfast) or cots, £10. Children's welcome packs include night-time milk and cookies, and there’s an indoor playroom and outdoor playground.

Swan Hotel & Spa, Newby Bridge, Cumbria LA12 8NB, England.
015395 31681
Rooms from £ 135
per night based on a one-night stay
For enquiries
Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than calls to geographic numbers (01 or 02) and are included in inclusive minutes and discount schemes in the same way.