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The pretty seaside town of Southwold is the epicentre of Adnams, a thriving company that embraces the trades of brewer, distiller, wine merchant and hotelier. The Swan is at the heart of the operation (the brewery and distillery is at the back), overlooking the town's Market Square, with an elegant Victorian façade concealing its 17th-century origin.

Caught up in time warp for decades, Adnams reinvented the place for the 21st century, spending £6 million on a stunningly bold makeover that divided opinion from day one. It shocked the old guard, yet received a reassuring thumbs-up from the urban professionals who seek style, comfort and good food on the Suffolk coast, well away from the stresses of city life.

Expect a striking, contemporary and upmarket coastal look with a big wow factor - emerald green sofas and royal blue walls in the smart and airy lounge and vibrant pink chairs and turquoise glass lamps in reception, and equally bold touches throughout the 35 bedrooms. Boutique, yes, with prices to match, but the whole place oozes informality and the attention to detail throughout is second to none.

Rooms from

35 doubles/twin: £200; Brewers House: from £520

Good to know

Amex not accepted, Visa / Mastercard / Maestro all accepted

Disabled access

Alfresco & private dining

Brewery/distillery tours

Parking available

Dog stay (Garden Rooms): £10

Touch of culture

Snape Maltings offers classical concerts, distinctive shops, cafés, galleries and walks - all set against a breathtaking expanse of reeds, water and sky.

Water and waves

Enjoy a pre-dinner stroll along Southwold beach and follow the coast path south via the foot ferry across the River Blyth to historic Dunwich via pretty Walberswick.

Butler service

To top your stay off, there's a butler (or three), who will deliver your lunchtime hamper to the beach, and recommend places to visit.


The 35 rooms are split between the main building and the garden rooms that back onto the brewery. Boldly and rightly styled as Excellent, Fabulous and Outstanding, all rooms have a relaxing, contemporary and coastal design and they offer style, comfort and great attention to detail, with careful thought given to the needs of the discerning overnight guest.

A bespoke Tall Boy cleverly hides the mini-bar, chock-full of quaffable Adnams goodies and fresh milk, the Nespresso machine, a Bose wireless speaker, and the 40" Smart TV. Elsewhere, you'll find a complimentary 20cl bottle of Adnams gin, vintage telephones, bathrobes, Temple Spa soaps and lotions, and luxury goose and duck down bedding on super-comfortable double-sprung mattresses - all come as standard.

The five Outstanding Rooms are just that, special, the largest rooms in the house with oodles of space - spacious lounge areas, huge four-poster beds, big bay windows overlooking the square and great bathrooms. In keeping with downstairs, the décor has a stylish, contemporary edge, with splashes of bold colour and trendy lamps contrasting with the soothing coastal hues and rich fabrics.

Brewers House in the heart of Southwold offers self-catering for 6 guests with views of the Lighthouse and a short stroll from the beach, pier and beautiful beach huts.

Restaurant & bar

The kitchen team work with the seasons and local ingredients to deliver quality fresh food in both the informal Tap Room, a great place for a light lunch, or the elegant Still Room restaurant, where you can enjoy cocktails at the copper-topped bar before tucking into some inventive modern British food with influences from around the globe.

Typical dishes may include dry-aged steak tartare, cornichons, capers, smoked egg yolk and sourdough; loin of venison, venison sausage, wild garlic, sprouting broccoli and morels; battered monkfish, triple-cooked chips, tartare sauce and green split pea purée; and rhubarb jelly, vanilla custard, almonds, yoghurt sorbet and gin espuma.

You'll find the full range of Adnams beers, some fantastic wines (20 by the glass), and a raft of spirits and liqueurs - try the Copper House Gin distilled a few yards away in the Tap Room , which celebrates Adnams long brewing heritage. A further nod to Adnams can be seen in the elegant Still Restaurant, which takes its name from their small-batch distillery, with dramatic copper lighting above the impressive copper-topped cocktail bar.

Private dining

Flooded with natural light and featuring bookcases and a table seating 20 people, the Reading Room overlooks the town's Market Place and the sea. It's the perfect room for informal gatherings and small wedding ceremonies, seating 40 theatre-style for the ceremony. The Juniper Room seats 14 and it ideal for intimate dinners and small parties. It's just off the Still Room and with an ante-room containing wine cabinets, it's a popular room for pre-dinner drinks and wine tastings.

Things to do

Bleak and exposed, Orford Ness is a long, natural barrier of shingle swept up by the sea. The only way to reach it is by National Trust ferry and once there, you can see where rare and fragile wildlife exists in an environment where once atomic bombs were tried and tested in conditions of the utmost secrecy. To the south of Aldeburgh, Orford Ness is a fascinating and wonderfully evocative place.

Southwold's famous Adnams brewery is deceptive. From the outside it resembles many of the town's other period buildings, a reminder of Southwold's charming architectural heritage, but behind the striking Victorian façade are the impressive workings of one of Britain's most modern breweries. Visit the brewery and the Copper House Distillery for tours to see how the ales, spirits and liqueurs are produced and of course a good slurp or two to find your favourites - tutored tasting and sampling is included. 'Make Your Own Gin' Experiences too.

A visit to Southwold's Electric Palace Theatre is a cinema outing with a difference, recalling those distant, fondly- remembered days when going to the pictures was something of an occasion. Seeing a film here transports you to that magical era and to make the visit even more special, there are usherettes, a commissionaire and a front-of-house manager in evening dress.

Getting here


Nearest station: Darsham

Taxi from station: 20min

Drive: Lowestoft 20min; Ipswich 55min


Market Place, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6EG

Prices & availability