We share some of our favourite spots in Norfolk, the perfect last minute destination.
Compared to the ‘subliminal’ and sometimes rather jagged landscape of the West Highlands we visited previously, Norfolk possesses a more calming quality. Large swathes of broads, fens and marshes that slowly morph into the coast, part of which is an Area of Outstanding Beauty, stretch out before you uninterrupted by mountainous terrain and cliffs. Norfolk might not cause sudden and sharp intakes of breath but you will leave feeling lighter, happier and relaxed.
Strattons Hotel is something of an architectural gem, but the facade masks a very 21st century interest in everything eco and sustainable, from the materials used during its restoration to the food served. Based in the market town of Swaffham, the hotel also has a mouth-watering cafe and deli on site and, if preferred, self-catered accommodation. Individually designed bedrooms and beautiful gardens, designed to attract diverse wildlife all help to create somewhere that feels unmistakably romantic and quintessentially British.
*Find out more about Strattons here or telephone 01760 723 845.
For something closer to the coast check-in to The Hoste, one of six properties run by The Hoste group, in the popular market town of Burnham. It isn’t hard to see why both visitors and locals alike rave about this particular hotel. Check in and you’ll find it hard to leave; The Hoste stands proudly at the centre of town in a 17th century building and encompasses a beauty spa and highly-regarded restaurant. If you’re arriving by train ask for the hotel to arrange private chauffeur transfers for you.
*Find out more about The Hoste here or telephone 01328 738 777.
If you are travelling with children then The Grove in the sea-side town of Cromer ticks all the boxes. Pick between rooms in the main Georgian building, one of the cottages dotted around the grounds or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a bell tent which comes kitted out with comfy double mattresses and artfully mismatched rugs and bedlinen. Children can play in the surrounding gardens, 4 acres in total, woodland and treehouse. If you manage to drag them inside, fuel them up for more fun at the hotel’s restaurant famed for its delicious afternoon tea.
* Find out more about The Grove here or telephone 01263 512 412.
The Rose and Crown (01485 541 382) in Snettisham has it all, from traditional decor – low ceilings punctuated by wooden beams and small winding corridors – to the food which showcases local produce through a wide ranging menu of tradition and more exotic options. Combined with a relaxed and informal atmosphere it is unsurprising that our favourite Norfolk pub has just been voted UK Pub of the Year 2015 by The Good Pub Guide.
For proper fish and chips head to No1 Cromer (01263 512316), a new venture for the michelin starred chef Galton Blackiston. Keep it traditional with freshly caught fish fried in a mouthwateringly crisp batter or choose the Cromer crab burger for something a little more grown-up. There is the option to takeaway if you feel like munching on the beach and, if you’re keen for seconds, book into Upstairs at No1 the new restaurant with unparalleled views towards the pier.
Morston Hall (01263 741 041) is where Blackiston earned his famed star and if you manage to snag a table, it is well worth a visit. Dinner in the conservatory style dining room is somewhat of a surprise as everyone is served from a nightly changing set menu in one sitting.
Depending on where you staying choose between hours spent exploring the old market towns and antique shops or long walks across miles of protected nature reserves. The beaches in Norfolk are often less populated than those on the south coast so finding a free spot, whatever the weather, shouldn’t be hard.
If you’re planning on surprising someone, or just want a a new perspective, take a ride on one of Virgin’s hot air balloons (01952 212 750) and explore Norfolk’s stunning landscape from the sky.
For those inspired by their stay at Strattons we recommend a trip to The Green Britain Society (01760 726100). Children and adults alike will love climbing to the top of the windmill, the only one in Britain open to the public, and you can also visit organic gardens and learn all about biodiversity.
Finally, stock up on local produce at the Wiveton Hall (01263 740 515) farm shop before you head home. If your departure falls on a Saturday or Sunday, grant yourself one last indulgent treat and feast on the cafe’s fresh and seasonal breakfast menu.