1. The Feathers, Holt
Our reviewer was drawn to the north Norfolk town on the promise of mountains of cheese at Star Plain Stores...oh, and maybe the cakes at Two Magpies Bakery too!
One of the newer additions to the Chestnut collection, the refurbed hotel (which as 14 rooms in the main pub and a further 10 down the road at The Lawns) has kept a traditional feel, while embracing modern touches – you can’t fail to be wowed by the pitch-roofed conservatory dining room.
The first floor accommodation was “gorgeous”. Finished in earthy, neutral tones, and framed by sash windows, there’s a lot of ‘local’ injected into each suite. Curtains come from Upstairs/Downstairs, throws from Heritage House, lighting and shelves from Tom Raffield, and there are even bespoke tea trays from Dorothea Hamilton.
Breakfast was raved about. Take your choice from the East Anglian Breakfast Table of Glebe Farm cereals, seasonal fruit compote, pastries and crumpets. Help yourself from the hot buffet. Or order from a menu of buttermilk pancakes, eggs Benedict and more. thefeathersholt.com
2. Cruising on the Broads
We luxuriated aboard Richardson’s Monaco motorboat during a gloriously sunny early spring weekend. The vessel, picked up at Stalham, struck a sleek profile as she pottered along the ancient waterways, gliding through spiring reeds under the watchful eye of local kingfishers.
Boasting two berths, a large lounging area, and a sliding top, the Monaco was toasty warm (even in March) and the perfect vehicle for navigating the rivers Ant, Bure and Thurne.
Highlights included a pitstop for breakfast at the very well stocked A G Meale & Sons farm shop, café and garden centre from Wayford Bridge, a stroll around How Hill, cakes and scrummy, generous food at Bridgestones in Potter Heigham, and great beer and pizza at The Lion during an overnight mooring in Thurne. richardsonsboatingholidays.co.uk
3. Fritton Lake, Somerleyton
Though the service on our visit can only be described as ‘relaxed’ we loved immersing ourselves in this countryside resort, where wilderness and nature meet laid-back luxury.
The whole place, from the lounging and dining rooms of the main house, to the bedrooms, looks as if it’s been torn from the pages of Country Living magazine, and every part of the building was filled with the sound of music.
Our beds were super plush and comfy. Our shower enormous. And the possibilities for relaxation endless. A walk around the grounds. A boat trip with a guide across the lake to gain insight into Lord Somerleyton’s ambitious rewilding project. Bobbing on the water in the floating sauna. Chillaxing next to a fire by the outside pool. frittonlake.co.uk
4. The George and Dragon, Cley
Having been devastated by its closure, our reviewer was straight in the door as soon as this beloved hotel re-opened. He found his room (Number 5) light and bright with stunning views across the marshes to Blakeney.
Thoughtful finishing touches included a posh coffee maker, local biscuits, and an array of fancy bathroom lotions and potions. There are some fabulous walks nearby (the hotel is very dog-friendly), and a stop-off at the local deli, Picnic Fayre, was listed as a highlight...as was The George and Dragon’s “enormous” Sunday roast of pink sirloin, piled with trimmings. georgeanddragoncley.co.uk
5. Retreat East, Hemingstone
The Times and Sunday Times have listed this clutch of gorgeously restored farm buildings as the most romantic place to stay in the UK.
Our own reviewer couldn’t agree more. The Granary cottage oozed understated glamour with its industrial fittings, dreamy sofas, high-tech country kitchen, and oversized lamps. A terrace runs all the way alongside the property, with doors opening from the bedroom, living and dining rooms, with uninterrupted views across the field.
Each accommodation is utterly unique – from the farm buildings, to the new lodges – and guests have access to a gym, the spa area, and the Great Barn, where head chef Adam Spicer and his team are making pure magic with a menu full of surprises, and based on what’s growing in the kitchen garden. Retreat East is dog-friendly, surrounded by walks, and has free cycle hire for exploring. Retreateast.co.uk
6. The Hoste Arms
Our reviewer, his wife and beloved bulldog spent the night at this pooch-friendly hotel in trendy Burnham Market, which has its own spa and cinema (with complimentary popcorn and soft drinks).
Their room felt modern, while retaining historic character at the same time – boasting a plush sofa, classic roll-top bath and separate, self-contained shower room.
Brownie points were scored for the waiting bag of local dog treats in the room, fresh milk, and a decent coffee machine.
And food (from fish pie and chilli, garlic and oregano spatchcock chicken to cheesecake with mango sorbet, pineapple, pomegranate and mint salsa) was delicious, with “absolutely fantastic” service. Even Benson got a special dinner – being dished up a sausage in his own little bowl. thehostearms.com
7. Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, Newmarket
The clip-clop, clip-clop of nearby horses provides the soundtrack for this charming hotel in the home of horse racing. On the outside it’s all pure white, classic elegance – but inside the reception area, restaurant and bar are uber modern – perfect if you want to stay somewhere you can dress up!
The hotel’s spa, housed in a separate building, is sleek and contemporary, while maintaining an enveloping sense of warmth throughout. There’s a spa pool, sauna, steam room, experience showers and even a rooftop hot tub.
A darkened chillout room with lavishly soft day beds and fluffy blankets awaits too. In the hotel, Room 135 impressed with its sink-into-me pillows, soft-touch bedding and a hospitality tray laden with the best tea and coffee, and lavender biscuits.
There’s access to the onsite gym and pool.
And guests can enjoy a cocktail or two in the swanky Roxana’s bar, followed by some on point fine dining in Squires – which, incidentally, served the best hotel breakfast we tried in 2022. bedfordlodgehotel.co.uk
8. Hippersons, Beccles
We had loads of fun staying on the UK’s first floating glamping pod with Hippersons. Secret Water is a cute little hideaway that’s dainty in size, but ample for a family of four. A Scandi-nautical theme carries through from the terrace, to the living/dining/kitchen space. There’s a shower room. And the bedrooms – one double, one bunk – have been crafted with giant porthole windows for spying on nature.
There was a big thumbs up for the “awesome” welcome basket, filled with goodies from local shops. And extra touches included binoculars, books in cupboards and extra blankets for cooler evenings.
Highlights of our stay included a delicious home-cooked curry takeaway on the deck courtesy of The Pink Tiffin, a stroll around the Beccles Marsh Trail Walk, shopping at Beccles Farmers’ Market, a dip at Beccles Lido, and superb pizza from the award-winning Oak Fired. hippersons.co.uk
9. The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe
The view from this pub’s Room at the Top is pretty special – gazing outas far as the eye can see across the marshes. The split-level room’s highlights include a double-ended bath with a skylight window for stargazing, a comfy superking bed, massive telly, sitting area...and a telescope for birdwatching.
From the roadside the pub looks pretty average, but inside is just lovely. A toasty fire-warmed bar leads to a conservatory dining room and terrace where the food is really rather delicious. A huge part of the appeal though is the staff who we found naturally friendly, welcoming and chatty. Don’t go home without something from the onsite smokehouse. And do take time for an amble on the Norfolk Coast Path (note the western path is closed for works) which is literally on the doorstep. whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk
10. Wispy Meadows, Saham Toney near Watton
We literally could not believe our eyes when we landed at our lodge – The Boathouse. The owner, a property developer and ‘proper Norfolk lad’ of farming stock, has created a tropical, adult-only hideaway that is completely unexpected.
The terraced garden has a pontoon with direct access to the fishing lake, water features, and two tiki huts covering a hot tub and outdoor seating/dining area with a gas firepit.
Inside, the accommodation is built to the highest spec, with a wall of full glazing looking to the lake, a well-equipped kitchen, large dining table, very comfy lounge, and two double bedrooms with ensuite corner baths. It’s the only place we’ve stayed with a retro gaming machine in! A lot of the guests here are return bookings, with a loyalty discount available. Get in quick because it gets booked up months, sometimes over a year, in advance! wispy-meadows-norfolk.co.uk
11. The Angel Inn, Stoke By Nayland
A LOT of money has gone into refurbishing this restaurant with rooms in Constable Country, which was recently named one of the best places to stay in the east by The Times and Sunday Times.
We holed up in a room in the new, separate Stablesbuilding, where handmade chocolates and a glass of fizz awaited. Our room, The Wolsey was suitably impressive, featuring preserved beams and a cute chapel window, air con (a rarity in East Anglia), large rainforest shower, and separate bath behind a high-tech, frosted privacy screen.
Gastronomic breaks are the hotel’s raisin d’etre. They want to attract foodies for weekends filled with fine wine, fine dining, cocktails and pure comfort. And head chef Ruben is helping them to deliver the goods, weaving a touch of his Spanish heritage through a modern menu underpinned by classic technique. Our dish of hare with toasted rice, under a veil of set stock was phenomenal. angelinnsuffolk.co.uk
12. The Peacock, Chelsworth
Our reviewer was taken aback by The Peacock, saying it blew him away and was on a “totally different level” to anything he’s been lucky enough to sample in Suffolk in recent years. “It really is that good, that special”.
Quintessentially English in feel, rooms are small but well formed, with period touches and waterfall showers. But it’s the food that takes centre stage. They swooned over head chef Sam Clover’s (formerly of Pied a Terre) pressed confit duck leg with white radish, blackberries, lavender and honey and duck fat brioche, perfectly cooked steak, and signature glazed lemon tart with Greek yoghurt ice cream. In his words “just go”. thepeacockchelsworth.com
13. Rectory Manor Hotel, Great Waldingfield
Once home to Rector John Hopkins, author of the Book of Psalms, former finance guy Frank Lawrenson lovingly refurbished his family’s gated home 10 years ago into an oasis for couples.
This year the property (a member of Historic Houses) achieved the VisitEngland Rose Award for Service Excellence – one of only 100 accommodation providers to gain the accolade.
What Frank’s created is brilliantly unique. Guests arrive to the sound of classical music. And each of the nine rooms at the top of the stairs has been individually decorated with true attention to detail. Our Wedgewood blue suite impressed with a bespoke carved four poster bed, hand-painted frieze in the rolltop bathroom, coffee chest and honesty bar.
Breakfast is served communally in the dining room where Emma Bridgewater crockery reigns supreme. Expect fine cheeses, charcuterie, fruit and more at the table, and their take on a full English, using meats from a local butcher voted for as a supplier by former guests. rectorymanorhotel.co.uk
14. Worlington Hall
This 16th century property, abutting the river Lark (where you can recline with a glass of wine in a deck chair) proved a real tonic for our reviewer.
Having been empty for years, the new owners set about transforming the hall into a must-visit destination, bringing former Tuddenham Mill head chef Jordan Bayes on to run the kitchen, and sprinkling a touch of magic over the rooms. The pastel pink and green Elizabeth suite was very comfortable, and had its own balcony overlooking the pond and gardens, while the bathroom was noted as “exquisitely tiled”.
It also had “perhaps the best-stocked mini bar I’ve ever seen –complete with complimentary prosecco”.
Dinner was a highlight – featuring one of our reviewer’s top dishes of the year – a spicy bowl of duck, chilli and mushroom noodles. worlingtonhall.com
15. Glory Days, Southrepps
If you think beige is boring, and grey has had its day, book a stay at this holiday cottage where every room is a party for the senses.
“I defy anyone not to open the front door and be instantly cheered,” our reviewer said. Owners Ruth and Mark used to run Norfolk’s Glory Days shop, and bring the same playful style to this property. In the cosy front room with a wood burner Ruth’s homemade cake, milks, eggs, bread and a bottle await. Upstairs are a single and a double bedroom, and a bathroom with “all the toiletries you could wish for and a wonderful old enamel bath which retained the heat beautifully”.
Southrepps is pretty as a picture, with its brick and flint cottages. And the beaches of Cromer and Mundesley are minutes away – as is the local pub, the Vernon Arms. Glorydays.co
16. The Pigs at Edgefield
One of our reviewer's favourite places on earth, The Pigs offers rooms with saunas, steam rooms and your own private fire pit, plus free marshmallows to toast on the flames. It is extraordinary.
The food’s cracking too – he particularly enjoyed hisdouble-stacked pork burger back in July.
Another brilliant thing about The Pigs is that all room service is free of charge, so you don’t even have to change out of your dressing gown to get your grub on.
"It's a special place!" thepigs.org.uk