From windswept Holkham Beach to the market town of Norwich, Norfolk, UK, offers a blend of the British countryside, coastal fresh air and quaint medieval cities. Here, you can drift down the Broads on a cruise boat or go seal spotting at Blakeney Point before tucking into gourmet food at night. Explore this East Anglian county from one of these top boutique hotels – bookable with Culture Trip.
No one would blame you for wanting to laze on Norfolk’s cotton-soft beaches in summer – or take windy walks along them on cloudy days. However, this much-heralded county is home to boutique hotels that are so good you might not want to leave. If you’re after offbeat design in a 19th-century mansion or a manor house with farm-to-fork food and a private hot tub, then check out our pick of the best below.
Perfect for a break on the Broads, the Norfolk Mead sits among 8 acres (3ha) of meadows, lawns and a private lake on the edge of the River Bure in Coltishall. Settle back into your room in the main Georgian mansion, a converted cottage or a summer house. Some rooms have a private terrace with a river view. Relax with a spa treatment – there are some for mums-to-be – or take to the Broads in the hotel’s boat, available for hire.
Saunter along the Norfolk Coast Path and take a seal-spotting boat trip to Blakeney Point before slipping back to your private balcony for pinch-yourself panoramic views across the estuary and salt marshes. This quayside hotel reminds you that life’s simple pleasures are priceless. Work up an appetite in the indoor pool and small gym before kicking back in the AA-rosette restaurant with locally sourced dishes such as Norfolk dapple cheese soufflé and Persian-spiced Gately Farms lamb.
Fancy a private hot tub, four-poster bed and wood burner? Check into Felbrigg Lodge’s Bracken Suite, tucked away from the main house in the woods. If you can bear to leave your room, slip into the pool or sauna, then lose yourself to a Neal’s Yard facial or Temple Spa massage at the Beauty Lodge, housed in a timber cabin. Therapist Sarah Woodrow will even pop over to see you if you’d prefer an in-room treatment – you don’t have to leave your room after all.
Book the Hoste Arms and stay in the main inn where Admiral Lord Nelson once rested. There’s also an adults-only option across the village green called the Vine House – book the luxurious Divine Room with Zoffany wallpaper and a free-standing bath. Head out and explore Burnham Market, or stay in and watch a film in the 20-seat cinema.
Flick on your Nespresso machine and cosy up amid Welsh wool blankets in this ecofriendly budget motel in Castle Acre. Large but simple rooms come with high-end touches such as pig prints by local artist Lucy Boydell and vintage armchairs upholstered in fabrics from Ian Mankin’s Lancashire weaving mill. There’s no food or staff, but swing next door to the George and Dragon pub to enjoy a pint of real ale in front of a log fire.
Could this be the perfect stay for shopaholics? The Dial House in Reepham doubles as a retail outlet, with a shop carrying antiques, designer and vintage clothing and much more. Each themed room is exotically furnished to conjure up images of Georgian pastimes and interests. Think hand-carved wooden statues in the Africa room and patterned plates in the China room. Chef patron Andrew Jones’s menu, featuring dishes cooked over a charcoal-fired Bertha oven, will bring you back to the present. Try his Swannington bavette or côte de boeuf for two.
Fresh air is calling your name at Lynford Hall Hotel. This Victorian property sits in the middle of Thetford Forest, so put on your walking boots for a ramble through the woods. The forested land is part of the Brecks, which is less travelled than the coast but just as worthy of your time. Hike along the old Roman route Peddars Way before rewarding yourself with a dram at St George’s, the oldest whisky distillery in England. For retail therapy, try Bulldog Barns for upcycled, bespoke and antique furniture. Cakes at the hotel’s on-site cafe are worth a browse, too.
Even if you’ve travelled from afar, you can rest easy in this 18th-century manor house knowing that the food in front of you hasn’t. Most of the menu is sourced within a 20mi (32km) radius, while the fruit, vegetables, salad and herbs come from the kitchen garden and orchards in Congham Hall’s 30-acre (12ha) grounds. Your grilled zander with clams and pear bakewell couldn’t be fresher. For a free-standing bath, monsoon shower and private terrace, book a Better Garden bedroom. During your stay, also visit the pool and spa for some serious pampering.
Can’t decide whether to go traditional or contemporary? Combine the two at the deliciously quirky Strattons Hotel, an early-19th-century mansion in Swaffham. Owners Vanessa and Les Scott have merged cast-iron open fireplaces, large gilt-edged mirrors and antique beds with modern art, dog-print wallpaper and rural-scape murals. Head to Afterfive restaurant for roasted rare breed pork belly and organic wines or CoCoes cafe for home-made bread, cakes and tea. The herbs, vegetables and salad leaves are from the hotel’s gardens.