24-Hour Room Service: The Swan Hotel and Spa, Cumbria

After the flood: the hotel that rose again

The River Leven looks calm and clear, mirroring clouds as it flowg peacefully past the elegant terrace at the Swan Hotel. "It wasn't like that at the back end of last November," Jon Cowley, house manager at this 17th-century alehouse tells me, with a wry chuckle.

He may smile about it now, but scenes of this week's flooding in Cornwall will remind the staff of the devastation across southern Lake District exactly a year ago. "I was wearing waders in the restaurant and the water was up to my thighs," Jon says. "The floods came through the floorboards and poured in through both the front and back doors. Everything on the ground floor was ruined – we couldn't salvage a thing." With the water table rising, water from the swimming pool was pushed up and spilled out into reception and throughout the lounges and pub, mingling with the floods as guests were evacuated to the upper levels.

Today, after a £4m refurbishment, things are very different. Before the floods, the Swan was a curious combination of traditional English lakeside hotel with a contemporary, somewhat stark, bar and restaurant; perhaps the floods were a timely, if expensive, blessing in disguise. The decision was taken to renovate the entire hotel. It closed for six months.

Now, there's a reassuring air of calm amid the chic Designers Guild soft furnishings in reception. Guests lounge on squashy Chesterfield sofas with faded Union Jacks on the cushions. And a mosaic of a swan wavers from the bottom of the indoor swimming pool next to reception, as if inviting me in for a dip.

Newby Bridge is a quiet place, with just two hotels, a steam train halt and the historic bridge itself, built in 1651 – a good base for a pretty walk overlooking the Southern Lakes' gentle hills. Conveniently, the hotel provides a sketch map for a three-mile circular wander from its front door through woodland to Finsthwaite village. It's the perfect distance to develop a thirst for a beer on our return at the Swan Inn – this is the hotel's rather pricey bar, which in September won the Great British Pub Award for the UK's best cellar.

No beer connoisseur, I try a half of Dickie Doodle, intrigued by its name as much as by its flavour. My partner, who's more familiar with real ale, "researches" all three on offer, the others being Langdale and Loweswater Gold. All are brewed in the Lake District, and each earns his seal of approval.

For a 17th-century coaching inn, there's little other than crackling log fires that's olde worlde about the Swan. Instead, it has a fresh, modern décor: church chairs painted white mix with contemporary floral seats and lime green velvet barstools, and the adjoining River Room restaurant is painted a sugary lilac, like fondant icing, with similarly coloured leather seating.

The executive chef is Steve Darvill, formerly of Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. He focuses on local, seasonal ingredients. My crab and king prawns starter with crème fraiche, lime and coriander was tangy and more-ish and my partner's stuffed mushrooms and sourdough toast deliciously robust. Main courses included succulent Barnsley chop and red wine jus and a rich smoked haddock risotto. We shared a treacle tart dessert – always a bad move with that embarrassing clash of cutlery as you fight over the last morsel, but it was well worth battling over. With a bottle of Lamura Nero d'Avola, our meal came to a reasonable £75.

If you're here for a pampering weekend, an ESPA treatment at the Vu Spa will complete the indulgence. Children can burn off their energy in the gardens, with an adventure playground and nature trail. Bearing in mind that little rascals and romance rarely mix, if you fancy a cosy twosome here, it's advisable to avoid the school holidays.

Location

The nearest station is Grange-over-Sands, seven miles away; a taxi costs £20. Newby Bridge is a few minutes' drive from the southern tip of Lake Windermere, with lakeside steamers and walks around Windermere and Ambleside easily accessible.

Comfort

All 52 rooms have been refurbished using Designers Guild, Ralph Lauren and Nina Campbell designs and accessories, with patterns of bold flowers and elegant stripes. Our Junior Suite, Ruskin, overlooked the river and had a separate lounge area with one of two plasma TVs. The bathroom had slate flooring, a powerful walk-in shower and bath. Deluxe and standard rooms are smaller but equally as stylish, the only difference between them being that the standard overlooks the gardens instead of the river. The Potter Suite, in homage to local author Beatrix, is ideal for families, with interconnecting bedrooms and a PlayStation.

The Swan Hotel and Spa, Newby Bridge, Cumbria LA12 8NB (01539 531681; swanhotel.com)

Rooms 4 stars
Value 4 stars
Service 5 stars

Doubles start at £99, including breakfast.

Suggested Topics
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'