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A Boutique Inn

Photography and design

I converted the former mid 16th Century Swan House in the centre of Beccles, which I owned from 1985 until 2016, into a restaurant in 1993. During 2012 I transformed the building once again, perhaps closer to it’s ‘tavern’ roots and into a Boutique Inn. I designed the interiors, the hand-built furniture crafted by David Paton, the branding, produced the photography, curated the art, produced the advertising and wrote the copy. I should add that the images for this gallery were between ten and nineteen years ago, and I have since learnt so much more through experience and my love for photography. Having a far better selection of lenses and a Nikon Z9 helps too!

Ignore the scurrilous ‘stitch-up’ review by the most popular of Fleet Street’s so called ‘newspapers’, who considered all of the above as meriting a zero! This was more than mischievously instigated by a newly arrived competitor to Swan house, that ultimately ruined a fine establishment. The review below by Martin Dunford (co-founder of the Rough Guides) in the ‘Independent’ of 2016, is both honest and highly observant:

“Swan House is a bit of Beccles institution, and it couldn’t enjoy a much better location bang in the centre of this handsome town on the Norfolk-Suffolk border. For years it was just a restaurant, serving good food to a loyal following who like to spread out onto the large pavement area outside on summer evenings, a tradition that continues but has been supplemented by the five boutique rooms the affable owner Roland Blunk has added upstairs. The rooms are quirky and sumptuous: the building dates back to the 16th-century, and the age is evident in the beams and creaky floors. but has been matched with smart TVs with netflix movies, docking stations and funky, well-appointed bathrooms. It’s a lovely place to relax – Beccles has an unspoilt small-town charm that is unusual these days and the peeling of the bells from the parish church just across the road adds an almost Mediterranean-holiday feel that is somewhat in tune with the food they serve downstairs, and definitely in keeping with your mood when staying here. Music in the restaurant is provided by Roland’s carefully chosen and rather wonderful playlists and each week he chooses a movie theme, with a different film each day showing on a loop in the main reception. Monday night is music night, with live (mainly acoustic) performers squeezing into a corner of restaurant, and there’s an exhibition of art each month too. You get the picture – Swan House is a throughly comfortable place to stay, with great rooms, excellent food and all sorts of creative bells and whistles going on, plus it’s in Beccles – the so-called gateway to the Broads and a bit of a gem in its own right. All in all just the shot in the arm a jaded Londoner needs.” Review by Martin Dunford ‘The Independent’ 2016.