I’m sure that the moment I walked through the doors of The Harper I felt my knotty shoulders start to un-tense.

But then, relaxation is the boutique hotel at Langham’s raison d’etre.

Every thoughtful detail at the rural retreat is designed to help you to switch off from whatever you’ve got going on in the outside world.

From delicious, calming scents wafting down the hallways, to cosy hidden nooks and plush velvet sofas where you can lose yourself in a book, to the private spa, it feels like a true escape.

Great British Life: The entrance to The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PRThe entrance to The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PR

Opened in 2021, it’s the epitome of laid-back luxury - and the absolutely delightful staff really want you to make yourself at home. There’s no standing on ceremony here.

The brick and flint barns were formerly home to Langham Glass, which was established by Paul Miller in the late 1970s.

They were bought by the Cutmore-Scott family, which owns the wedding planning and venue hire service Harper Weddings, as their first foray into boutique hotels.

The Harper is headed up by son Sam and the buildings have been lovingly transformed, with more than a nod to their industrial heritage as well as quirky contemporary touches (look out for the cool emoji artworks).

There are glorious stained glass windows featuring birds, exposed brickwork, original beams – and a tongue in cheek neon-lit sign proclaiming ‘blow me away’.

And it’s not just the building’s history which is celebrated – Ivy’s bar is named after Sam’s grandmother, who loved the Norfolk coast and Stanley’s restaurant is named for his grandfather who was a mechanic in Norwich.

Great British Life: One of the Big bedrooms at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PROne of the Big bedrooms at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PR

There are 32 individually designed rooms, which are classed as Big, Bigger and Biggest, plus new this summer are two flint cottages providing self-contained holiday accommodation for families – with the bonus of access to The Harper’s facilities.

And more accommodation is on the way as the family has bought neighbouring manor house Langham Hall and its stable block and work is underway to create more rooms, a gym and additional spa facilities.

The rooms are all spacious and most of them have giant four poster beds with Casper mattresses for you to sink into.

The style is relaxed contemporary - oak floors and a neutral colour palette, with statement floor lamps and rugs to add a splash of colour, comfy wing-back chairs and cosy finishing touches like cushions by local interior designer Birdie Fortescue.

The bathrooms all have monsoon showers – the larger rooms also have bathtubs – and are well stocked with organic Irene Forte products which are decanted into ceramic bottles, one of the many ways in which The Harper is aiming to be as sustainable as possible, which also includes using only biofuel, wood and electricity, EV charging points in the car park and low energy LED lighting.

There’s a coffee machine which uses compostable pods and locally sourced products in the mini bar include Cocktail Canary pre-mixed cocktails, Duration beer and Heather’s Kettle Corn.

Great British Life: The pool at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PRThe pool at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PR

Bags dropped off, the first stop for my friend and I was the spa.

You book a time slot – a hangover from Covid restrictions which has been kept on - and, what a luxury, the entire pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi are exclusively yours.

It’s a gorgeous spot – huge windows flood the pool with natural light.

For an extra treat, there’s a menu of delicious-sounding treatments by Irene Forte on offer.

The 55-minute Forte Facial is specially tailored from an in-depth skin analysis – you can opt for a deep cleansing purifying treatment, a brightening treatment or a hydrating treatment.

Or, the Harper Trio combines a stress-busting back, neck and shoulder massage, an express facial and a nourishing hot oil scalp massage.

My friend and I both opted to have a classic manicure – nail shaping, cuticle care, a nourishing hand massage and a polish of your choice - and thanks to the lovely Amber, my nails have never looked so good.

Taking advantage of what seems to have been one of a handful of ‘proper’ warm, sunny days this summer, we then grabbed our stash of magazines, ordered a Countryside Cosmopolitan and got settled at a table in The Yard.

Surrounded by flint walls, it is the prime spot for a tipple at the heart of The Harper – whether that’s an apéritif or a nightcap.

If you time your visit right, you can enjoy a six o’clock savoury – the hotel’s ritual of bringing guests an amuse bouche as it gets towards dinner time.

As the sun goes down, The Yard twinkles with fairylights – and if it starts to get chilly there’s a firepit and blankets to wrap yourself up in.

Great British Life: Ivy's at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PRIvy's at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PR

But wherever you set up residence in the hotel – other choices include the stylish ground floor Bar, beamed Ivy’s lounge on the first floor with its large arched windows and a cosy woodburner, or The Den which has a 120" screen, a full-size pool table and board games you can play into the night, - you can have food delivered to you from the all-day anywhere menu.

With the focus on local produce you’ll find the likes of a steak and Binham Blue cheese open sandwich, warm Blakeney squash salad or a Holkham venison burger.

And you can serve yourself from the wine cabinets.

We had an incredible evening meal at Stanley’s. Open to hotel guests only, there’s a table d’hote menu which changes daily depending on what produce is available.

I would have been more than happy with just the basket of home-made breads and butters that arrived on our table.

Great British Life: Dinner at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PRDinner at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PR

We both went for the veggie main course – showing the skills of the kitchen, artfully presented humble sweetcorn, charred and pureed was the star, served with polenta and hot sauce. I'm not generally a huge fan of hot sauce, but the one which accompanied the dish had such a deep, smokey flavour that I had to keep going back for more, despite the kick.

For dessert it had to be something gooey and chocolatey. And to round things off, more chocolate - jewel-like home-made petit fours, presented in a wooden box.

We followed that up the next morning with a return to Stanley's for an equally incredible breakfast. Rather than having a buffet, to cut down on food waste, everything is cooked to order - I had a perfect poached egg, with smashed avocado and thickly cut smoked salmon on sourdough toast. But it all sounded delicious: a basket of pastries, full English, full veggie, soft-boiled eggs with sourdough soldiers or brown butter waffle with berry compote and clotted cream.

Great British Life: Stanley's at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PRStanley's at The Harper. Photo: contributed by Rove PR

By now well and truly in relaxed mode, we chose to spend the morning back in The Yard with our magazines before check-out.

But if you want to venture out of the hotel and into the countryside for some fresh air, then the best of north Norfolk is within easy reach.

There are bikes available to hire for exploring the winding lanes – and wellies to borrow for rainy walks. Dogs are welcome at The Harper – and there’s even a roll-top bath and a supply of towels for cleaning muddy paws.

Picture-perfect Blakeney is one of the closest coastal spots and inland it’s not far to Holt or Burnham Market for an afternoon spent mooching round boutiques and antique shops.

Soak up the stately splendour and stroll on the wild, untamed beach at Holkham or enjoy a traditional bucket and spade day out at Cromer.

If you fancy dining out, then The Harper has two little sister pubs.

A couple of miles up the road, The Anchor at Morston is also a member of the family. Befitting its coastal location, it specialises in what it charmingly calls ‘nautical nibbles’ served up with homemade sauces ranging from traditional chunky tartar to seaweed hot sauce.

And round the corner in pretty Langham is The Blue Bell – where we finished our mini break. It has the most amazing home-made pie menu I’ve ever seen (from curried squash and chickpea to salmon and samphire) and does an absolutely stonking Sunday roast with all the trimmings you could possibly think of.

As we (very reluctantly) left to head home I noticed a sign in the hotel lobby, which read ‘It was all a dream’. It really felt like it.

Rooms start from £210 per night on a B&B basis. See theharper.co.uk or call 01328 805000

Great British Life: The 'It was all a dream' sign at the entrance to The Harper. Photo: Emma LeeThe 'It was all a dream' sign at the entrance to The Harper. Photo: Emma Lee