HOTEL of the week.
WHERE AND WHY Set in one of England's most beautifully preserved medieval towns, this elegant hotel was originally three 15th century wool merchants' homes. The luxury of the past is still there today with sumptuous lounge areas, a walled garden with nesting wrens and a banqueting room for fine dining. There are 45 rooms, all named after local villages, which are given a contemporary twist while respecting their history. And the friendliness of the service matched the opulence.
ON THE MENU We dined in the informal Brasserie, which was perfect for the kids. I opted for the tasty pumpkin and sage risotto (PS10.50) while my partner feasted on the panfried sea bass with spicy egg noodles and Asian vegetables (PS13.50). From the kids' menu, our daughters wolfed down the local butcher's bangers and mash (PS4.95). I battled to fend off advances from the family's spoons towards my delicious sticky date pudding with sultana puree, coconut mousse and hazelnut crumble (PS6.95).
WHILE YOU ARE THERE The Swan is well placed for exploring this lovely market town - even though my eldest daughter was worried the crooked timber houses were going to topple over! We all loved Little Hall, a beautiful property built during the 1390s which tells the town's history through its luxurious artefacts (adults PS3.50, children free, littlehall.org.uk). The National Trust property Guildhall is also worth a visit. Eat in the lovely gardens and see the dye plants historically used to colour wool while discovering the importance of the town's cloth industry (adults PS5.95, children PS2.95, nationaltrust.org.uk).
WAKE-UP CALL B&B from PS195 per room per night. www.theswanatlavenham.co.uk, 01787 247477