Is Lavenham the most dog-friendly town in Suffolk?
Written by Emma Kemsley
We’re a nation of dog lovers, and that couldn’t be more true for the East of England. It would appear more and more hotels and restaurants across the region are rolling out the red carpet for our pampered pooches – and I for one absolutely love it!
My husband and I are the owner of a two-year-old cocker spaniel called Fletcher; super cute and lovable, spoilt and a rascal at (most) times.
We generally make every weekend all about Fletcher, hence being spoilt, and head out to find new walks or explore a new area. This weekend we visited the beautiful medieval village of Lavenham, in the heart of Suffolk.
In the 1300s Lavenham was the 14th richest town in the country. Home to a thriving wool industry, its timber clad buildings were built by wealthy merchants. Today the buildings house the likes of the Guildhall, pubs and the renowned Swan Hotel, which brings me onto our canine check-in!
For our overnight visit we stayed at the dog-friendly Swan at Lavenham Hotel and Spa set in a stunning white timber-framed building on the High Street. On arrival, Fletcher was being his pesky self and whining at check-in, after an hour car journey he was persistent on going for a walk, and checking-in just didn’t fit well with his spaniel schedule!
On check-in Fletcher was fussed by staff and presented with his own registration card, which simply highlighted that we were willing to accept he wouldn’t be leaving his paw prints throughout the hotel.
We then braved the cold and explored the pretty village which was hosting its annual Christmas market. Crowds gathered in the square, carols played and the smell of chestnuts filled the air, but a pleasant surprise was the amount of owners and their dogs, most dressed for the occasion in Christmas jumpers. Fletcher assumed every dog was there to meet him, and my husband was pulled in every direction for a meet and greet while I shopped local jewellers and homemade crafts.
Throughout the town many of the shops have water bowls and hatches outside, and most pubs welcome furry friends. With its miles of countryside walks, quaint tearooms and dog-friendly pubs, it’s clear to see why Lavenham is a popular destination for pet-owners.
Many hotels can call themselves dog-friendly by merely letting a dog in, which always disappoints me. However, The Swan really does go above and beyond.
In the room Fletcher had his own welcome pack which included a dog-bowl, mat, treats, chew toy, poo bags, shampoo and pop up travel bowl (if you don’t have one of these already, Google immediately – once you’ve finished reading this of course).
I’m fortunate that, despite his constant need for attention while with us, our dog is well-behaved and happy to chill out in a hotel room by himself, which allowed us to indulge in a little spa session – I highly recommend the ‘My Kinda Skin’ facial!
There was also an ‘in-room doggy dining’ menu featuring dishes such as a Bowser Burger with carrots and snap peas, a Chow Down grilled free range chicken and Crunchy Crudité for dogs on a weight loss diet. There’s also a selection of sides to order including Pooch’s Pilaf and Crispy Pigs Ears.
Before we went for dinner we ordered the Bowser Burger, which swiftly arrived in 15 minutes. Steaming hot and juicy, we let it cool before Fletcher tucked in and we visited the Swan’s Gallery Restaurant for own three course dinner. Plates and bowls empty, we turned in for the night.
The overall vibe of The Swan is dog-friendly. Both staff and fellow guests were happy to pet the dog, and dogs on a lead are welcome in the hotel’s lounge where they can curl up in front of the cosy open fire or outside in the medieval courtyard gardens. Dogs and owners are both well catered for; a member of staff even asked if we’d like Fletcher to join us for breakfast in the brasserie, though we politely declined as spaniels and a plate of sausages is generally a recipe for disaster!
Well slept and fed we left having very much enjoyed the weekend break, but of course not before Fletcher made an almighty exit by howling along with the smoke alarm, which had been set off due to a steamy shower – well, in a wood framed building you can never be to cautious!
To book a stay at the Swan at Lavenham Hotel & Spa and treatments in Weavers’ House Spa call 01787 247477 or visit www.theswanatlavenham.co.uk; rooms start from £185 per night for two sharing including a full Suffolk breakfast; dinner from the a la carte menu is from £39 per person for three courses. Dogs welcome at £10 per night sharing their owner’s room including doggie treats. Dogs also have their own in-room dinner menu and welcome registration card.
Overnight guests have a complimentary two-hour session with use of the facilities in Weavers’ House Spa including the sauna, steam room, outdoor vitality pool and relaxation lounge. The My Kinda Skin facial is priced at £72 for 60 minutes.