Great British boltholes: Glide back in time at The Swan, a handsome West Sussex hotel that looks much as it would have done when built in the 18th century

  •  The Swan Hotel faces the high street in Arundel, with views up towards historic Arundel Castle
  •  The 14 guest rooms are named after a local landmark, and a few have roll-top baths and vintage furniture 
  •  Enjoy local produce in the restaurant, with menu items such as corn-fed chicken and buttermilk rabbit burger

When you’re visiting a historic town, you should stay somewhere with a story to tell – and The Swan Hotel in Arundel certainly has that.

Dating from 1759, this handsome Georgian coaching inn once overlooked the riverside quay, when this well-to-do West Sussex market town was a bustling port. Barges and tall ships would load and unload at wharfs that have long since been redeveloped.

The Swan may have lost its stables and courtyard, but otherwise it looks much as it would have done then. The white-painted pub faces on to the high street with views up towards the crenellated walls of Arundel Castle which dominates the town.

Rich history: The Swan Hotel (above) in Arundel’s town centre dates back to 1759 – it may have lost its stables and courtyard, but otherwise it looks much as it would have done then

Wash down ‘excellent food’ with a pint of Fuller’s ale in the bar and restaurant space (above) on The Swan’s ground floor

The Swan’s ground floor is given over to bar and restaurant space, where Fuller’s ales and excellent food are served all day. As a hub for the local community, there’s generally a bit of a buzz, which helps hotel guests feel instantly at home.

Although one of nearly 50 pubs managed by Fuller’s across southern England, The Swan feels remarkably individual. Each of the 14 rooms is named after a Sussex river or South Downs landmark, and they range in size from snug to indulgent.

Common to all are fluffy towels and coastal references such as seabird-print fabrics or paintings of lighthouses and beach huts – a nod to the sandy shores four miles downriver, where the Arun meets the sea at Littlehampton.

Each room at The Swan features fluffy towels and coastal references such as seabird-print fabrics or paintings of lighthouses and beach huts

Room 10 is among the largest and has a free-standing tub and creaky floorboards for extra authenticity. Some rooms are oddly shaped from being squeezed into a historic building. A few of the larger ones have roll-top baths and vintage furniture, and three (Arun, Adur and Lavant) have oblique views of the castle.

In an effort to cut down on single-use plastic, bathrooms are stocked with paper-packaged products from BeeKind, while tea- and coffee-making facilities come with fresh milk in refillable canisters and jars of home-made shortbread.

There’s plenty more shortbread (plus cakes and cream teas) to be found in the nearby cafes. Try Belinda’s or Juniper on Tarrant Street, then browse the antiques and book shops and pick up nibbles at Pallant delicatessen.

Three rooms at The Swan Hotel – Arun, Adur and Lavant – have oblique views of Arundel Castle, pictured above 

Arundel lies in the lofty South Downs, an area with glorious views to enjoy. Above is the vista from nearby Bury Hill 

TRAVEL FACTS 

The Swan, Arundel, West Sussex. B&B from £85 per night (swanarundel.co.uk).

For sightseeing, and especially for keen gardeners, Arundel Castle (arundelcastle.org), home to the Dukes of Norfolk and a stunning garden, is essential, as is feeding the ducks at Arundel Wetland Centre (wwt.org.uk). 

Or stride out for lovely walks along the Arun or around pretty Swanbourne Lake, with the option of taking in glorious views from the lofty South Downs.

After working up an appetite, head back to a menu highlighting local produce. 

Perhaps you fancy asparagus, Isle of Wight tomato and Black Bomber cheese tart, followed by buttermilk rabbit burger or corn-fed chicken breast with Puy lentils, spinach and salsa verde, rounded off with buffalo milk ice cream by Laverstoke Park Farm.

Breakfast is a highlight. As well as a full English, there are health-conscious options: smashed avo on toast, house-made granola or porridge with berries and coconut yogurt. 

If the weather’s fine, you can work it all off with a dip in the lido on Queen Street.

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