Picture-perfect Suffolk is home to windswept beaches, thatched country cottages and the meandering River Stour. Stay in a gastro-pub near Dedham Vale, a coastal bolthole in Aldeburgh or a hip hotel in Newmarket’s horse-racing hub. Here’s our pick of the best places to stay in Suffolk – bookable with Culture Trip.
Suffolk is often called Constable Country as it is where 19th-century artist John Constable painted his most famous rural scenes. It’s easy to see why he loved his home region – from the rolling countryside, dotted with lavender fields, to the North Sea coastline. Read on to discover the best places to bed down in Suffolk – with the freshest seafood, enthralling views, ancient buildings and even a celebrity chef’s old haunt.
Celebrity chef fans can discover where Robert Carrier – one of the pioneers of that ilk – honed his game at this Grade 1-listed 16th-century manor house near Ipswich. After buying it as a crumbling mansion, Carrier converted it into a hotel, restaurant and cookery school. He’s long gone but the Carrier restaurant pays homage to the original cook’s fine dining with delectable delights, like hazelnut crumbed venison loin or roast chump of lamb with rosemary aubergine caviar. Expect bedrooms with four-poster or canopy beds, timber panels and plush furnishings.
Sitting in grandeur on Newmarket’s bustling High Street, this is one for horse racing devotees. It’s the home of the members-only Jockey Club but its 18 elegant bedrooms, each an equine shrine with themed art and furnishings, are open to guests at certain times. Opt for a deluxe room overlooking one of Newmarket’s stables, then take a wander down to Warren Hill training ground first thing in the morning to see jockeys exercising their prodigies. The Asprey toiletries are just begging to be taken home.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Cannes, rather than Ipswich, at the Salthouse Harbour Hotel. One for sea lovers, this bolthole occupies one of the coolest plots in town, overlooking the buzzy waterfront. For a real French Riviera feel, go for a Marina room with a Juliette balcony, lull-me-to-sleep vistas over the sail-strewn harbour and a copper bath next to the window. For a maritime munch, pop into the Salthouse Eaterie where scallops and sea bass are dished up from head chef Luke Bailey – 2019’s Suffolk Chef of the Year.
Well-behaved dog owners are more than welcome to stay with their pooch pals at this restaurant with rooms. The Packhorse near Newmarket warmly welcomes man’s best friend in all of their eight bedrooms; their Muddy Paws package includes doggie treats, a special bowl, paw oil and a blanket. On the food front, gather up your friends and stick around on a Sunday for the Packhorse’s Great British Beef Feast, a triple-treat sharing platter of treacle-glazed fillet of beef, ox cheek in ale and roasted bone marrow for four to six guests. Don’t let the dog near it.
Food lovers will be spellbound by head chef Tom Bushell and his team, conjuring up rare breed sirloin or Colne Valley lamb rump on the Josper charcoal grill in the Marquis restaurant’s open kitchen. Whichever way you turn, there’s an eye-popping view here; the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows are the perfect frame for the bountiful Brett Valley outside. Savvy staff can help wine lovers choose their bottle in the hotel’s vast cellar, home to more than 160 types. Afterwards, bed down in 17th-century splendour amid oak gables, brick fireplaces and rich-pattern fabrics.
Courtesy of Seckford Hall Hotel & Spa, BW Premier Collection / Booking.com
Fine food fans should head to Seckford Hall’s AA rosette restaurant 1530, named after the building’s founding year, for smoked chicken with stuffed leg or cod, hake and oyster with pea puree, served amid ancient beams and oak panelling. Alternatively, sink down into one of the ripe-plum velvet sofas in the grand Great Hall for afternoon tea with homemade Scotch egg and smoked salmon pinwheels. Don’t miss the pool – it is housed majestically in the Woodbridge mansion’s original 16th-century barn.
Perfect for coast lovers, you could throw a stone from the sun-tinged terrace at the Brudenell and hit Aldeburgh’s Blue Flag pebbly beach without effort. It’s all about the sea here – right down to the nautical-themed wallpaper, porthole windows and Adnams dry-hopped battered haddock. Saunter along the beach and make your own mind up about local artist Maggi Hambling’s contentious Scallop, a four metre high, stainless steel sculpture that salutes the North Sea. Climbing atop it and flinging your arms out Julie Andrews-style isn’t just for kids.
A hit with walkers, the Crown and Castle can provide kitchen-fresh lunch hampers overflowing with homemade sausage rolls, local smoked salmon and fresh bread for those wishing to explore Orford Castle and the Suffolk Heritage Coast beyond. After a day out, ditch the mobile phone (house rules) and kick back in the restaurant over a smoked fish and shellfish platter followed by whole roasted plaice. Room wise, choose the suite for Osborne and Little fabrics, and distant views of the River Ore and sea.
Renovated in 2018, this Victorian boutique B&B is one for the beach babes as it’s close to the coast (some rooms have partial sea views). Lowestoft and its painted beach huts are a short stroll away. As the UK’s most easterly point, it is the perfect place to catch a sunrise; after all, there’s a reason this area is called the Sunrise Coast. Several walkable restaurants await you nearby but, as a rare perk, takeaways are welcomed in the lounge, where there’s an honesty box for drinks and snacks.
Family-run for 100 years, this hotel serves up old-world charisma in spades. Fresh-air fiends will appreciate the hotel’s no-smoking policy throughout, including outdoors. Slip on to the terrace and watch the fishermen selling their catches from wooden huts on the beach or, in the summer, burrow down for the afternoon in a striped deckchair in the Tiffany garden. Don’t miss the restaurant’s seafood; produce used in dishes like crab and lime risotto, and grilled lemon sole, are bought just across the road.