Muddy reviews: The Swan at Streatley
This boutique hotel in the village of Streatley, West Berkshire, with its slick styling and stunning riverside location is the ultimate weekend escape.
Welcome to the Berkshire Riviera. A quintessentially English riverside hideaway where you can eat, sleep, relax on repeat. The Swan At Streatley (fun fact: once owned by Danny Le Rue) has one of the most glorious positions on the Thames, with outdoor deck onto the water, manicured lawns and Wind In The Willows views to die for. Inside it’s interior goals all the way. The hotel underwent a monumental £12m makeover a couple of years ago that saw every square metre of the hotel modernised into the modern beauty it is today.
Each of the 45 rooms are uniquely decorated making the most of the river or countryside views, cafe/ bar, a beautiful space for weddings and parties, gym, yoga studio, beauty treatment room and you can paddleboard here too. The restaurant is now run by Coppa Club (the third to open in Berkshire) and is decorated in a soothing, palette of sorbet shades, with oversized rattan pendant lights, Crittal doors and house plants. It’s interior goals a-go-go.
It’s fun, stylish and totally chilled. I’d like to say that it’s got a home-from-home feel (it does), but I can only dream of my house looking like this and, living with boys, it’s never this relaxing. The guys at the Swan totally get it. To ensure you fully recharge during your stay you can do yoga in the riverside studio, work out in the gym (er, if that’s how you chill), get you out on the water, or help you find the best walks in the ‘hood.
Then when you’re ready to refuel, pop round to Coppa Club for cocktails, a bite to eat and snap those memories in one of the many instagrammable corners. When it’s too dark to see the river, saunter round to the cosy snug with its open fire for an intimate one-for-the-road bevvie.
With 45 bedrooms, the hotel is actually pretty big, but by cleverly carving the ground floor space up and using a lot of design sorcery it never feels sterile. And surprisingly even on a busy weekend, it doesn’t feels so busy that it kills the joy.
When I visited we were in the middle of a heatwave. It was nuclear hot but it was lovely to see so many people enjoying cold drinks in deck chairs on the lawn and making the most of The Swan’s river location – swimming, paddleboarding, boating and loafing. Heavenly.
If you haven’t eaten at Coppa Club, they offer unfussy, European food from small plates and snacks to grilled mains, sourdough pizzas, and healthy salads.The food was great and service friendly. It had been a busy day, but it was a bit surprising that so many items on the menu were unavailable – particularly when one was the house salad. It just meant we sauntered over to the naughtier dishes. A hardship *wink*. We kicked things off with ham hock terrine and salt and pepper squid with a delicious peri peri mayo. Both delicious – while the ham hock felt very staycay, eating squid in the sunshine by the river, well, it could’ve been the Med.
Next up, we attacked the Coppa burger which was very good and my date (aka Mr M) ordered the ribeye steak. The steak was cooked well – no mean feat when the poor waiter scribbles down ‘medium rare, but the rarer side of medium rare. Kind of rare-medium-rare’. Hey, it’s a test!
The chimichurri sauce packed enough punch to interest, but was super light, and the chips were large crispy, crunchy digits of joy. The last hurrah was a panna cotta which passed the wobble test and the seeds brought flavour and texture. Food here is, I’d say, good crowd-pleasy fare.
It also ticks boxes beyond lunch and dinner. The breakfast is very good offering pancakes, full English or avo on toast – sourdough natch. Although its style aesthetic will appeal to couples, Coppa caters well for kids who have their own menus, including veggie options.
Is it a bird? Is it a bat? Nope it’s aerial yoga. Yes when temperatures hit 33°C+, I do acrobatic yoga. Am I mad? Quite possibly. Now, I’m game for anything, but flexible I am not. So this was always going to challenging. In the only shady spot in the garden, four pieces of apparatus were set up for me and my more flexible friends. Aerial yoga is for yogis who have run away to the circus, using the silks to stretch into deeper positions, fly, swing, rock and hang like a bat. Run by Yasmin of Gravity & Grace Studio, based at the hotel, there was no judgement, just a friendly ‘have-a-go’ vibe. I was here for the swinging hammock style, but the rest was hard. Really hard. After an hour I overheated, felt sick and had to sit and watch everyone else, who were absolutely brilliant. The last 10 minutes were spent lying down in a meditative state – which I totally nailed. Wellbeing, for me, is definitely best spent lying down but it was fun and I would try it again on a much cooler day. Thanks Yasmin for your encouragement and patience. You are an absolute legend. Wellbeing is an important offering here. Not in a shove it down your throat kinda way, but making the most of the location and opportunity to take a breath when you step off the hamster wheel.
Each room is individually decorated and you have the option of a river or countryside view. Choose the river every time. Even from your window, watching people pootle down the river is entertaining and totally relaxing. The rooms are elegant with pops of colour and retro cool touches like the old fashioned dial phone, Roberts radio and a super-slouchy sofa. The bathrooms were a masterclass in luxurious simplicity with rain shower, classic taps, white metro tiles, super-soft towels and lush Natural Spa Factory products. You can slip them into your case when you leave, but expect to see them charged to your bill. My only niggle was the lack of AC. The old school fan just didn’t quite have the oomph needed to keep the room cool during this particularly fierce heatwave. A problem I appreciate we only experience once every five years.
The River Suites are the best in the house – each with their own balcony. Sundowners on your own terrace? Now you’re talking Taking your kids? There’s one family room, which features bunk beds, bean bags and a few choice games to keep little ones entertained. Dogs are welcome too – four-leg-friendly rooms with doggy bed and treats are available from £110 per night with two people sharing it with their furry friend. It’s a location that offers riverside walkies on tap and The Ridgeway is nearby for an epic countryside stomp.
AROUND & ABOUT
Head over the bridge and into Goring for a mooch around this pretty village. George Michael fans can make a pilgrimage to his riverside home Mill Cottage, and saunter around the independent shops. Whether you’re walking, running or boating – this is beautiful stretch of the river and worth exploring Basildon Park National Trust is just a couple of miles away – a country estate that has starred many bodice-ripping films and TV shows. Beale Wildlife Park is a great day out with the kids. For grown ups, The Royal Berkshire Shooting School is an option if you want to go all lock, stock and two smoking barrels during your break.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Anyone looking for total escapism. Just the view alone will drop those shoulders whether your eating, drinking or sleeping at this stonking riverside spot. The laidback, countryside cool vibe with the option to exert yourself with a session in the gym, yoga studio or on a paddleboard.
Not for: If you’re a hay fever sufferer with a fear of water, The Swan won’t be your vibe. It’s also the opposite of an urban weekend break. For that kinda stay, alight at Oxford..
The damage: Double rooms from £80; and the River double I had is from £140 in high. Breakfast not included. Free Wi-Fi..