LAVENHAM, England -- The Boot Record in the Swan Hotel's cozy but
elegant bar here has nothing to do with computers.
Instead, it's a chronicle of how fast U.S. servicemen who were
based in the area during World War II could down three and a half
The East Anglia region afforded such a short bombing route to
Nazi Germany that in Suffolk -- the eastern part of that area --
there were 19 U.S. air bases.
You can see evidence of this history in the Swan's bar, where
military insignias and servicemen's signatures plaster the
Today, the Swan is popular with U.S. veterans who visit on
commemorative trips. There are numerous military museums honoring
the U.S.-British alliance throughout the region.
The Swan has an appeal that transcends the interests of World War
II buffs, of course, and in the hotel's annals, that conflict is
but a recent event.
The property is comprised of three medieval houses, dating to
1425, that were brought under one roof.
The most famous of the three edifices is the Wool Hall, which
was the focal point of life and commerce in Lavenham until 1911,
when it was sold.
Parts of the Swan might have served as a coaching inn as early
as the late 15th century; the hotel's entryway used to accommodate
carriages that backed in to unload luggage.
The hotel was renovated and reopened in March of 2000. Each of
its 51 rooms is distinct and full of history.
Four-poster beds, brick fireplaces and 15th century art patterns
in the walls are all part of the hotel's allure.
Take Room 48, for example. It has a mammoth fireplace, a canopy
bed and oyster shells scattered between the wood and brick in the
As you navigate the Swan's halls, you occasionally have to duck
your head to get around the irregular brown beams overhead, and the
floor emits a charming creek as you make your way to your room.
Some of the rooms overlook the quiet streets of Lavenham, 78
miles northeast of London, with its small antique shops and
lime-washed wooden homes. Other rooms look out on a traditional
The town is a convenient base for sightseeing trips to Newmarket
(horse-racing); Bury St. Edmunds (Abbey of St. Edmund); Sudbury
(birthplace of artist Thomas Gainsborough), and Castle
Heritage Hotels, which recently was bought by Scotland-based
Macdonald Hotels, owns 48 properties and has been targeting the
The company gets an assist in filling the Swan from Continental
Airlines, which in April inaugurated service from New York (Newark)
to London's Stansted Airport, just 35 miles from Lavenham.
The Heritage Explorer rate at the Swan starts at $240 per night,
with a minimum stay of three nights.
For more information or to book, call (888) 892-0038.
Address: High Street, Lavenham, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 9QA,
Telephone: (011) 44-870-400-8116
Reservations: (800) 543-4300
Location: On main drag High Street in the medieval village
of Lavenham. Some six miles from Sudbury, 35 miles from Stansted
Airport and 78 miles northeast of London.
Number of rooms: 51
Owner: Heritage Hotels/Macdonald Hotel Group
General manager: Frances Gildea
Facilities and amenities: 24-hour room service,
restaurant, two bars, five lounges, free parking.
Raves: The decor, restaurant, ties to World War II and
proximity to horse racing center.