Grab your new husband, dust off your wellies and decamp at The Swan Hotel, a four-star stay in Newby Bridge on the banks of the River Leven, and just a mile short of the southern tip of Lake Windermere.
You’ll feel as if you’re stepping into a watercolour with the kaleidoscopic autumnal backdrop – although it’s a stunner in every season. The sturdy flow of the river and waterfall (complete with picture-postcard fly fisher if you’re lucky) and the five-arched stone bridge make it all seem so perfectly, rurally unreal.
The Swan Hotel is a classic restored 18th-century inn. The hefty framework is kept looking lovely via the solid white paint job and thick licks of glossy black paint on the window frames. Inside, historic touches have collided with the modern world to create a riot of old-meets-new that spells a cosy, homely vibe, but lets you know you can charge your iPod and check your email.
Entering the reception area, the Chesterfields scattered with union jack cushions are a microcosm of what’s to come. Original beams and country-kitchen styling sit alongside candy-coloured striped chairs and feature walls in the bedrooms, while glass panels, red leather chairs and chrome corners quietly raise their head every now and again.
Room for Romance
The sleek modern bathroom with oversized showerhead has just that extra degree of water pressure that says indulgence. The oversized theme continues with the pillows, which raise you up but don’t crick. Fabulously comfortable, the bed makes for a very restful night’s sleep. The TV in-room is conducive to a cosy night in; the maps and local interest guides make for an adventurous day out.
Bag a room overlooking the tranquil river and terrace with trees bedecked in fairy lights. In summer, sip champers, order snacks and watch the boats come and go from the nearby marina.
Downstairs, the snug is the perfect place to read the Sunday papers, warm up after a windswept day’s walking or retire after dinner, G&T in hand. Curl up in front of the open fire and sink into those floral cushions. The kids’ room, complete with games, will satisfy every age.
Food for Thought
Dinners come via the adjoining Swan Inn or the hotel’s dining room (including the cute Scullery). The Swan Inn is an indulgence of modern country classics: heavy wooden tables; real ale; chips served in mini buckets; warming dinners finished with cheeky chocolate desserts.
The fishcakes are light and fantastic; the peas are served in the fish pie: a quirky take on tradition. The lamb hotpot, chicken pie, burger or fish and chips are all posh pub-grub classics.
Time to Dine
Dinner in the dining room starts with olives from a kilner jar and homemade walnut bread scattered on a wooden platter. Mushroom and thyme soup, chicken liver parfait, and tempura of squid and tiger prawns make for a tasty assortment of starters. The herb-stuffed pork belly will go down a storm with the Mr; fish lovers will adore the cod on mash with spinach and chorizo (the veggies looked just-pulled-from-the-ground-fresh and arrived in a cute mini saucepan). The rack of lamb to share is a romantic dinner à deux; there’s a stylish take on hearty steak and chips; salmon done in different ways; and Italian-authentic linguines, calzones and butternut-squash-roasted risottos.
Best of the Rest
If you’re up for getting out and about, take the steam train to Lakeside on the fabulously preserved Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, hop on the boat and cruise around the stunning Lake Windermere (the views are outstanding), make stops at Bowness and Ambleside and shop for cute local crafts, then sip rosé and sink a pint in the plentiful waterside inns.
Walking enthusiasts will be in rambling heaven: pick up a half-price Berghaus and get out there! The walking is endless around the lake and further afield: the north of England is your playground. The National Trust’s Fell Foot Park is a pretty day out amongst the rhododendrons, oaks and pines.
If you want a got-it-all venue and you’ve got guests coming from every postcode, The Swan is a great backdrop for a weekend or multi-day do: guests can peel off to do their own thing and you can all gather in the bar for evening booze-ups. The quaint ballroom is perfect for your ceremony overlooking the river from the tall Georgian window. Adorn the room with pastel bouquets and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous countryside-cool wedding day.
In summer, the conservatory screams sun-filled reception, and the club room, complete with private bar and fibre-optic lighting, is just the place for your evening bash.
Don’t Leave Without
Take a dip in the pool; have a sauna and steam, then head to the Vu spa. The toasty-fingered, mellow-voiced therapists will ease the knots from your back, plump life back into your face and gently polish your skin back to its buffed-up best.
You may need a car to get around, but if you’re without, do your research and you can have plenty of fun getting about by boat, train, cab, foot or even hoof (there’s a riding stables nearby).
Double rooms from £99 per room per night on a B&B basis. For reservations, visit swanhotel.com or call 015395 31681. The nearest train station is Oxenholme.