Great escapes close to home


EXG JUL 15 DD - Credit: Archant

Essex Life picks out a selection of great locations to get away from it all — and all within a short drive of your doorstep

Snape Maltings

Near Aldeburgh


IP17 1SR

SNAPE MALTINGS is set in one of the most beautiful and distinctive parts of coastal Suffolk. The landscape is wonderful at any time of the year, with the river, reedbeds and open expanses of water teeming with wildlife, including avocets and even seals.

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The walks either side of the river are perfect for all to enjoy and Aldeburgh is just a few miles away. The site is also home to the world famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall as well as artisan shops, galleries and eateries. There is even a monthly farmers’ market as well as pop up events such as the vintage and makers markets.

The Suffolk Escape

Northlands Farm

Priory Road




01473 652149

The Suffolk Escape’s luxurious log cabins are the perfect place to ‘stop, relax and unwind’. With just four two-bedroom lodges, each set on the edge of the lake, The Suffolk Escape offers self-catering in spacious log cabins equipped with designer kitchens, hot tubs and private dining decks out over the water, which are perfect for al fresco dining. As a small, adult only destination, the 300-acre farm is the ultimate romantic location for couples or small groups of friends looking for a peaceful, relaxing break away from everyday stresses. The Suffolk Escape is ideally located close by, just off the end of the A12.

Strattons Hotel

Ash Close



PE37 7NH

01760 723845

Strattons is an award-winning boutique hotel, restaurant and cafe deli offering cool, contemporary style with originality. The hotel is hidden in the historic market town of Swaffham, located in the beautiful Norfolk countryside and not far from the North Norfolk coastline.

Enjoy afternoon tea by the fire, a light lunch from the cafe deli al fresco style or a delicious dinner in the chic restaurant. ? Stay in one of the 14 individual, sumptuous and eclectic bedrooms, with maybe a Jacobean four-poster bed, an open fire, a free-standing bath at the foot of the bed with room for two, a Moroccan-style tented ceiling, antiques and art, original period features, a huge decked balcony or a cinema screen.

Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa

Bury Road




01638 663175

Perfectly located in the heart of Newmarket’s rich racing heritage, Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa offers luxury and comfort in a contemporary setting. Recently named as one of the best hotels in the country for horse racing spectators by, the hotel offers racing spa treatments, pre and post-racing dining and casual cocktails. As the only four-star hotel in Newmarket, and just 15 minutes from Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds, Bedford Lodge Hotel retains the charm and character of a country house yet offers the very best in modern comfort and luxury.

Hayes Country Park

Burnham Road


Wickford SS11 7QT

01245 320054

As a well established waterside park, in attractive countryside surroundings, Hayes Country Park has superb on site facilities and a country club overlooking the River Crouch — famous for its sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, water skiing and wildlife. All this in a stunning location just five minutes from South Woodham Ferrers. Recognising the need for change in peoples’ ideas of what ‘park home living’ should be, Hayes Country Park has seen redevelopment of specific areas of the park to accommodate some beautiful, fully-furnished Park Home Lodges. Each with two block-paved car parking spaces, spacious balconies and grassed areas.

The White House

Smiths Green

Dunmow Road



CM22 6NR

01279 870257

The White House is a delightful, historical manor house dating back to the 15th century and, while coming highly recommended by the British Tourist Board and with four yellow stars from the AA for its outstanding facilities and services, guests will not be disappointed. Despite its proximity to Stansted Airport, The White House is set in an acre of serene gardens and is actually an oasis of calm for those about to prepare for a busy flight. To ease pre-travel stress, staff at The White House can even help with issues such as airport transfers. Owner Mike Shields also runs The Lion and Lamb just down the road in Little Canfield. Open seven-days-a-week with all its traditional country charm, The Lion and Lamb is well worth a visit, be it for a taste of the wine menu, a sample of the freshly-prepared food or just for the friendly front of house service.

Wakes Hall Lodges

Wakes Colne



01206 563222

Imagine yourself in one of these five, exquisite Wakes Hall Lodges, surrounded by a 500-acre country estate. Each lodge offers one or two bedrooms, a private outdoor hot tub and decking with splendid views of the idyllic Colne Valley.

They provide a perfect getaway for couples or families to relax and spend quality time together and have just achieved a prestigious AA five-star award in only their second season, being rated as ‘exceptional and outstanding’ by independent judges.

Guests at Wakes Hall Lodges can look forward to getting closer to nature with their own private fishing lake and an array of country walks in the glorious, unspoilt countryside right outside the door.

Milsoms Kesgrave Hall

Hall Road




01473 333741

If you’re looking for a ‘doorstep destination’ then pop over the border into Suffolk. Milsoms Kesgrave Hall is a contemporary four-star hotel within an easy drive of the Suffolk Heritage Coast (featuring Aldeburgh, Dunwich and Southwold) as well as towns such as Woodbridge and Newmarket. The hotel offers 23 bedrooms ranging from standard through to ‘super deluxe’ all set up to the high standard you’d expect from a Milsom Hotel. The restaurant is open all day, with plenty of theatre from the open-plan kitchen. Head chef, Aaron Skerritt, champions all that is great about local produce and specials are available every day to make full use of the seasons. Guests can dine on the terrace in the summer under a huge architectural sail and look out for short break offers such as Super Sunday, Step into Summer and Suffolk Weekend.

The Victory at Mersea

Coast Road

Mersea Island


01206 382907

Why not experience a summer break on the coast at The Victory at Mersea and enjoy four-star rated accommodation. Discover a great menu of award-winning food with a traditional pub foundation, with fantastic views over the Blackwater estuary. As we move towards the summer season, come and enjoy the personal service of the winners of the Best Bar Team in the Star Pub and Great British Pub awards.

Hotel Felix

Whitehouse Lane

Huntingdon Road



01223 277977

Set in the cultural city of Cambridge, Hotel Felix offers luxury accommodation, fine dining and ample parking, all within its own idyllic and tranquil grounds. A striking combination of traditional Victorian architecture and modern, 21st century additions, the Felix is a four star, boutique hotel and wedding venue with easy access to Cambridge City centre — giving you the perfect place from which to explore this fascinating, historic city. With 52 bedrooms, each boasting an opulent simplicity with sumptuous king size hypnos beds, Egyptian cotton bed linen and duck down duvets and pillows, you’re assured of a sound and comfortable nights’ sleep. And for dining, the Graffiti Restaurant at Hotel Felix boasts a two rosette award and offers fine dining at its best with delicious, inventive, modern British cuisine. n