Bury's heavenly Angel
PUBLISHED: 10:56 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:19 20 February 2013
Richard Bryson enjoys a short break at Bury's lovely Angel Hotel
Bury's heavenly Angel
Richard Bryson enjoys a short break at Burys lovely Angel Hotel
Has the Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds got the best hotel view in Suffolk? I know those hotels by the coast can have sweeping views but there are days when the North Sea is more grey sludge than shimmering aquamarine.
No, I think the Angel takes the biscuit and since we are talking upmarket Bury here, thats a rich tea rather than a sponge finger when it comes to unbeatable vistas. Draw the curtains back on any of the rooms above the main entrance and restaurant and you look down on the Angel Hill, Abbey Gates and, away to your right, the splendid new cathedral tower. Wait until after dark and that scene looks even more bewitching.
So weve established this 75-room coaching inn has the most desirable of settings, but what of the hotel itself?
I defy even the most guarded of nit-pickers, looking to examine the minutiae of this landmark building, to be unimpressed. For instance, the entrance area manages to be both grand and welcoming. You may be treading in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, French King Louis Phillipe and Angelina Jolie but theres no standing on ceremony here, soft lighting, the gentle buzz of background conversation and the smiling service on reception see to that.
After being shown to our room overlooking the Angel Hill, and with that aforementioned view, we returned back downstairs for some drinks in the lounge and a meeting with the hotels owner, Robert Gough. From my childhood I can recall Roberts larger-than-life father Dick running the White Hart at Great Yeldham and then the Angel. Hes a hard act to follow but Robert has his own charming style, a clear understanding of the demands of his industry and a flair for hotel design (witness his artistic take on a revamped Salthouse, the Angels sister hotel on Ipswich's quayside.)
He was aghast when the Bury hotels famous Virginia creeper had to be removed due to it becoming a health hazard but recognised something had to be done when masonery began falling on the pavement. Now a less damaging creeper is in place and the hotel is back to looking its best.
I wondered about the ecletic styling of the hotels Eaterie restaurant but its hardly driving the punters away. When we moved through for our meal the place was almost full and we noted some people being invited to the bar to await a spare table.
Our food was excellent. My wifes pan roasted scallops with pea and mint risotto and crispy bacon was a perfect marriage of subtle flavours and textures and while tempted by the soup of the moment (well, soup of the day is now so passe) I enjoyed fried breast of wood pigeon. What followed was sublime; a perfect medium/rare 28-day matured sirloin steak with hand-cut chips (other establishments please note, these were beautifully crisp not soft and floppy) and a peppercorn sauce. I thought nothing could better a steak Id eaten in the west country many years ago but this was unbeatable. Across the table my wifes wild sea bass was another triumph.
Our waiter selected a Pinot Noir to accompany our meal and it was an inspired choice.
After such a meal, and in such a mood of contentment, we could have dozed off anywhere but that would have meant missing out on the second part of the Angel experience . . . the bedrooms. The hotel talks of balancing traditional elegance with contemporary design and our spacious Victorian room boasted sturdy dark wood furniture and rich furnishings, plus those all-important high tech additions of a flat screen TV and Bosch audio unit.
The room is a little like the Tardis, not so much in terms of it being bigger inside than it appears, though it is big, but more to do with when you step from the bedroom into the en suite you go from yesteryear splendour into multi-mirror, glass and chrome, modern chic.
Even if all this style passes you by it should be noted that our bed was extremely comfortable and we hardly heard a sound from the streets below us.
And apparently the rooms at the back of the hotel, overlooking the courtyard, are more modern in design so there is something for most tastes here.
We couldnt ignore the temptations of a hearty breakfast next morning so we left the Angel thoroughly replete and relaxed. Sometimes we forget just how good the hotels on our county doorstep really are . . .
- A stay like ours with dinner, bed and breakfast for two people in a Prestige room starts at 216. Prices start from 156 for a double room.
For a reservation call 01284 714000 or email email@example.com