Where to stay in Norfolk: 10 perfect getaways

Two, The Crescent, Cromer

Two, The Crescent, Cromer - Credit: Archant

Here are some unique, high-class Norfolk hotels which are sure to recharge your batteries. Have a break – you’ve earned it!

Inside Red Mill

Inside Red Mill - Credit: Archant

1. Great for wildlife lovers

Red Mill, Haddiscoe Island

A fascinating building with a fascinating past: Red Mill, a converted windmill sits on Norfolk’s only ‘inland island’, the result of a failed attempt to make Norwich a port 175 years ago. Norwich’s loss is tourism’s gain as you can now take a break in this Grade II listed mill, with accommodation over four floors and enjoy uninterrupted views and tranquillity, set as you are amongst 2,000 acres of marshland. Look out for deer, marsh harriers, geese, owls and the cattle who graze freely during most of the year. Located where the Rivers Ware and Waveney join, you’ll also enjoy private views of Burgh Castle.

Norfolk Country Cottages, www.norfolkcottages.co.uk 01263 715779

Inside the Signal Box

Inside the Signal Box - Credit: Archant

2. Great for couples

The Signal Box, Melton Constable

Unusual and quirky, this converted signal box, dating back to 1900, used to sit on Wymondham station until it was moved to its present location and lovingly restored. Now it offers fabulous views of the surrounding countryside (there are windows on three sides) and access to the public footpath, where you can walk your dogs. The coastal towns of Wells in the west, Cromer and Sheringham to the east are half an hour away. Amazingly, given its rural location (you’ll spot wildlife whilst eating breakfast), mobile phone reception is good. It’s all about the signal, apparently…

Norfolk Country Cottages, www.norfolkcottages.co.uk 01263 715779

The Control Tower (picture: Matthew Usher)

The Control Tower (picture: Matthew Usher)

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3. Great for high fliers

The Control Tower, North Creake

This really is a place to stay with a difference - a converted wartime airfield control tower on the former RAF North Creake site, cleverly updated into a B&B. Outside looks crisp and smart and the double rooms are quirky and unique, reflecting the original uses of the rooms; The Signal Room and The Controller’s Rest Room for example. The Control Tower is also a vegetarian venue, which will add to its appeal for many, and being just a few miles south of Wells-next-the-Sea, perfectly placed for coastal exploring.

www.controltowerstays.com 01328 821574

Two The Crescent, Cromer (photo by Denise Bradley)

Two The Crescent, Cromer (photo by Denise Bradley) - Credit: Archant

4. Great for families and large groups

Two, The Crescent, Cromer

“Location, Location, Location”, “quite possibly the finest rental accommodation in Cromer” and “Even better than in the brochure” are just some quotes from the online visitor’s book for this fabulous, Grade II listed Georgian house, located in a private cul-de-sac on the prom, overlooking the sea, beach and pier. The interior is pretty impressive, too; wooden floors, some really quirky furniture pieces and a master-bedroom to die for. From waking in the morning and looking out to sea, to dining alfresco in the pretty courtyard at night, this house is ideal for a family seaside holiday, being both child and baby friendly – just remember your bucket and spade.

Norfolk Country Cottages, www.norfolkcottages.co.uk 01263 715779

One of the Assembly House's new luxury bedrooms (picture: Denise Bradley)

One of the Assembly House's new luxury bedrooms (picture: Denise Bradley) - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

5. Great for the city

The Assembly House, Norwich

Georgian style in the heart of the city; The Assembly House is one of Norwich’s iconic buildings and there are 11 rooms on offer if you fancy treating yourself to a little refined grandeur. Some of the rooms have their own secret gardens; there’s a bridal suite and two top-floor suites, all luxuriously and handsomely fitted. Turn left and it is a few steps to the Theatre Royal, turn right and you’re in the historic centre of the city with wonderful heritage and up-to-date shopping treats. Whatever you choose (and why not everything?) you’ll wake up to a spectacular breakfast made from locally-sourced, seasonally-inspired ingredients from top chef Richard Hughes’ kitchen.

www.assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk 01603 626402

Strattons Hotel (picture: Matthew Usher)

Strattons Hotel (picture: Matthew Usher) - Credit: Matthew Usher

6. Great for the heart of the county

Strattons Hotel, Swaffham

Boutique luxury in the historic market town of Swaffham; Strattons Hotel has been garlanded with national and international awards for the quality of the rooms and service and also for its environmental approach, meaning you can enjoy some of the finer things without it costing the earth. The 14 rooms themselves are all different and highly eclectic in style; as a bonus they’re family, child and pet friendly as well. As well as having a restaurant with high-class modern British, locally sourced, cuisine (including vegetables and salads from the hotel gardens) the attached Cocoes Café Deli offers all-day treats and Strattons won the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink award for best afternoon tea in 2016. Swaffham, in the Brecks, is brilliantly base from which to explore the county.

www.strattonshotel.com 01760 723845

The Triumphal Arch, Holkham

The Triumphal Arch, Holkham - Credit: Archant

7. Great for a touch of grandeur

The Triumphal Arch, Holkham

Designed by the great Palladian architect William Kent of Holkham Hall and Raynham Hall fame, this stay really is an extraordinary-looking and rather romantic place to stay. The 18th century arch has accommodated members of the Coke family, farm workers and shepherds over the years before being lavishly converted into a unique holiday home. The top of the arch is the heart of the building, with the bedroom and sitting area and fantastic views across the estate, but you’ll need to be agile enough to negotiate a stone spiral staircase to get to it. You can also bring the dogs along!

www.barefootretreats.co.uk 01485 512245

The Hoste in Burnham Market (picture: Matthew Usher)

The Hoste in Burnham Market (picture: Matthew Usher) - Credit: Matthew Usher

8. Great for the Royal Coast

The Dabbling Duck, Great Massingham

The Dabbling Duck was spared from being redeveloped a decade ago when two local farmers stepped in and saved it, turning it into a very smart pub with an excellent reputation for local food, especially game. Pheasant, partridge, woodcock, venison and rabbit are seasonal favourites and if you’re staying in one of their nine tasteful rooms there are many great local walks to help you build up an appetite. One of the best-known members of the team is black Labrador Doris, who was this magazine’s cover girl in November last year!

www.thedabblingduck.co.uk 01485 520827

Hintlesham Hall (picture: Sarah Lucy Brown)

Hintlesham Hall (picture: Sarah Lucy Brown) - Credit: Archant

9. Great for North Norfolk

The Hoste, Burnham Market

One of the big names in the area, The Hoste has acquired a reputation for being one of the best places to stay in the region, or, more accurately, six of the best as parts of The Hoste are spread through the village. The variety on offer means that couples looking for a quiet romantic getaway can choose the Railway Carriage, while Vine House offers a luxurious touch of Georgian splendour. Add in a spa, two restaurants and bar and you can start to see why it has become a go-to destination for many.

www.thehoste.com 01328 738777

10. Great for border-hoppers

Hintlesham Hall, Hintlesham

If you absolutely insist on travelling out of the county, at least you don’t have to go far for a memorable stay. Hintlesham Hall first came to prominence in the 70s when celebrity American chef Robert Carrier bought the then empty house and turned it into a hugely successful dining destination and hotel. It still offers a lavish experience, with fine dining in elegant surroundings and rooms, junior suites and suites to cater for the most demanding guests. You could almost forget you’re in Suffolk!

www.hintleshamhall.co.uk 01473 652334

Which Norfolk holiday tribe are you?

Norfolk is a diverse county, offering something for everyone, and more people are holidaying in the county than ever before, according to letting agency Norfolk Country Cottages. They saw an increase of almost 30% in bookings in 2016, a figure which already looks like being eclipsed in this ‘year of the staycation’.

“We’ve seen the popularity of Norfolk as a holiday destination soar over the past 25 years,” says Lucy Downing, brand manager. “What’s particularly fabulous, though, is that the increase in visitor numbers isn’t just from visitors from outside the region, but from people who already live here, using their holiday time to enjoy the many things on their own doorstep.”

Here, we give a light-hearted nod to the different types of people Norfolk appeals to.

The Fashionably Wilds

Most likely to be spotted in: The Royal Coast – Holkham, Wells-next-the-Sea, Blakeney, Brancaster and the Burnhams

Wild, windswept and sun-soaked (sometimes, simultaneously) the vast sands which join Holkham and Wells-next-the-Sea attract a similar crowd; those who revel in the great outdoors and don’t mind getting a bit muddy or sandy while doing it. This area of Norfolk is the ideal stomping ground for those who like things spontaneous and unstructured; who are just as at home having a barbecue of freshly-caught fish as they are dining in the many award-winning restaurants and hostelries along this coast.

Most likely to say: “Pass the sunscreen”.

What they’ll be doing: Taking the miniature train from Wells quay to the beach; catching crabs at Blakeney; spotting geese at Titchwell; eating freshly caught sea-food at Brancaster; building sandcastles; dune jumping; mud-sliding (it’s a thing, apparently); alpaca trekking.

The Norfolk Nostalgics

Most likely to be spotted in: north coast – Sheringham, Cromer, West Runton, Great Yarmouth

For those who appreciate a time when life was simpler; when steam trains were a familiar sight and when entertainment was of the family-friendly variety, something everyone, from the little ones to Grandma and Grandpa could enjoy. It’s not that you don’t live in the modern world, it’s just that when it comes to precious time out from the rat race, you prefer a gentler pace.

Most likely to say: “I remember doing this when I was a kid”

What you’ll be doing: Taking in a show at Cromer Pier; wandering around Felbrigg Hall; booking a ticket on the North Norfolk Railway; tucking into Cromer crab; sitting in a deck chair on the beach (rolled-up trousers and hanky on head optional); sailing a wooden yacht on the boating lake.

The Multigenerational Family

Most likely to be spotted in: East coast – Sea Palling, Mundesley, Happisburgh

If you don’t have a young family complete with bucket, spade, a scooter or two and a windbreak then it might be worth borrowing one, such is the appeal of this coastal area to mums and dads. While the Blue Flag sandy beaches and clean waters echo that of the Royal Coast further west, here things are a little more organised. There’s a concrete promenade for easy access, and toilet facilities on the beach so you can spend the entire day here without having to tramp back to base.

Most likely to say: “Hands up for an ice-cream?”

What you’ll be doing: Spending long days at the beach, swimming in shallow waters or scooting up and down the promenade; taking day trips to Pleasurewood Hills or Africa Alive!; playing a round of mini-golf at Mundesley; gazing up at Happisburgh’s stunning red and white striped lighthouse.

Swallows and Amazon-ians

Most likely to be spotted in: The Norfolk Broads

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Broads had, pardon the pun, broad appeal. Holidaymakers would flock here to muck about on the water. Now the area has reinvented itself as a haven for outdoor activities and a magnet for adventure lovers. There are cycleways and paths. You can go boating, canoeing and kayaking, exploring lesser known tributaries, even taking an overnight bushcraft experience. It’s an area rich in wildlife, flora and fauna, so don’t forget your camera and binoculars.

Most likely to say: “Just catching my breath.”

What you’ll be doing: Exploring the ‘Secret Broads’; getting away from it all; wildlife spotting; taking a boat trip or canoe ride around Wroxham; hiring bikes to explore country lanes and riversides; learning bushcraft, spotting otters; angling amongst the backwaters; riding crocklebogs at BeWILDerwood.

The Rural Ramblers

Most likely to be spotted in: Aylsham, Blickling, Reepham, Walsingham, Thetford

Not everyone’s ambition is stirred by the sight of a towering mountain summit. For those who prefer a more accessible challenge, Norfolk’s 2,400 miles of footpaths and bridleways are perfect and achievable. Following in the footsteps of old Roman settlements, Queen Boudicca and the like, they make for interesting exploration. Rest your feet occasionally to sample the irresistible tea-rooms en route.

Most likely to say: “Another two miles and then cake.”

What you’ll be doing: Reading a Norfolk Trails map with compass in hand; oohing and ahhing at the splendour of Blickling Hall (and wishing you’d packed your best shoes rather than walking boots); Going Ape in Thetford.

Norfolk Country Cottages have nearly 450 holiday properties to choose from. For more information, call 01263 715779 or visit www.norfolkcottages.co.uk