Suffolk 'staycations': ten great places to stay
PUBLISHED: 10:04 19 July 2017 | UPDATED: 21:04 28 December 2017
The arrival of summer may have got us thinking of sandy beaches and beautiful scenery, but why go abroad when Suffolk has all of this (and more) to offer? Here is a selection of some of the best places to stay in this glorious county…
1. The House in the Clouds, Thorpeness
A self-catering holiday home with a difference, The House in the Clouds is exactly as its name suggests. Originally constructed in 1923 and towering 70 feet above ground level, this is quite literally a house in the clouds and an established mark of the Suffolk skyline. The quirky interior is complete with five bedrooms, so it is a fantastic holiday destination for groups of friends and families alike. What’s more, you will be spoilt with panoramic views of the surrounding area as you look out over the beautiful Suffolk heritage coast – the ‘room at the top’ in particular will make you feel as though you’re on top of the whole of Suffolk! In the one acre of private grounds, you can have a go at table tennis, boules and lawn tennis as you enjoy an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
What to do:
Just a few minutes walk away is the nearby town of Thorpeness, built in the 1920s by Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie – he wanted to create a holiday village where people could experience quintessential England, and that legacy continues to live on today. If you fancy a break from cooking, there are various places to eat such as The Dolphin Inn or situated right by the coast is The Kitchen @ Thorpeness. The town also has its own shingle beach, and with the glorious surrounding countryside, it is a great place for walking and cycling. Thorpeness Meare is just a minute’s walk away from The House in the Clouds, a boating lake covering three acres – its ‘Peter Pan’ theme makes it great for exploring with little ones.
2. The Salthouse Harbour Hotel, Ipswich
For a taste of complete luxury, head to the Satlhouse Harbour Hotel situated on the Ipswich waterfront. With its sumptuous rooms complete with touches such as copper baths, floor to ceiling windows and incredible views out to sea, it is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. The hotel is also home to the Eaterie, a waterside restaurant renowned for its excellent food. You can also have afternoon tea on the harbour for that quintessential English experience, where you can enjoy a fantastic selection of homemade cakes and sweet treats. After dinner, pay a visit to the hotel’s bar and choose from the extensive wine or cocktail menu and settle down for the evening.
What to do:
The Salthouse Harbour Hotel is fantastically located on the Neptune Quay of Ipswich Waterfront, a hive of activity. During the day, this area is a haven for shopaholics with its fantastic selection of shops and boutiques. Find your sea-legs and go sightseeing by water on the Orwell Lady, or explore the historic barges of the Victor and Thistle. At night, this area buzzes with its array of bars and restaurants; try Grand Central, an American-diner style restaurant serving fantastic food and a great selection of cocktails. For something that little bit special, board the Allen Gardiner vessel and dine from the a la carte menu as you sail along the river, all the while enjoying the beautiful scenery that Suffolk has to offer.
3. Bays Farm, Stowmarket
Surround yourself by the idyllic Suffolk countryside at Bays Farm, a boutique bed and breakfast hotel. The rooms are all individually designed, each with their own theme – there are three double bedrooms in the farmhouse, or you could stay in the Hayloft Suite with its own private balcony overlooking the spectacular surroundings. Alternatively you could stay in the luxurious Shepherd’s Hut, complete with a log burning fire and flat screen TV. Breakfast is served in the main farmhouse, featuring fruits grown in the garden, or there is the option to have a home-cooked dinner, with hearty favourites such as Fish Pie and Lasagne on the menu.
What to do:
As well as dining in the farmhouse, for places to eat you’ll be spoilt for choice. The Crown is just a two minute drive away at Stowupland, boasting its own pizza oven. Alternatively, The Walnut Tree at Thwaite serves an excellent selection of vegetarian food. Take the ten minute drive to the town of Stowmarket, home to the Museum of East Anglian Life – here you can learn about the history and natural world of the local area, and even meet the resident Suffolk Punch horse, Major. Stowmarket is also the location of the stunning Helmingham Hall Gardens where you can surround yourself by beautiful flowers and find that perfect spot to sit back and relax.
4. Secret Meadows Glamping, Hasketon
If you love the idea of sleeping under the stars but don’t fancy pitching a tent, look no further than Secret Meadows. Think hot tubs, bunting, log burning fires and you have a very glamorous version of camping - ‘glamping’! This is the ideal destination for large groups and families. The Luxury Log Tents sleep six, and are fully equipped with their own bathroom and a four poster bed, overlooking beautiful meadows that form part of a nature reserve. For something rather quirky, stay in the Gypsy’s Rest, a converted caravan that very much retains its original charm. You could even stay in the Hobbit Box, a recycled horsebox that is now barely recognisable in its new life as a luxury holiday destination. There is also an on-site shop serving locally produced goods and homemade treats.
What to do:
Fifteen minutes away is the beautiful riverside town of Woodbridge with its collection of unique shops and cafes. Rendlesham Forest is just down the road, the location of the infamous UFO sightings in 1980 – whether you believe in aliens or not, this is a fantastic destination for avid explorers and sci-fi fans. Woodbridge is rich with places to eat, and has a particularly good selection of pubs. Try the Greyhound Inn, or in the village of Hasketon itself is the Turks Head, a family friendly pub with an ever-changing range of real cask ales and a superb menu to match.
5. East Green Farm Cottages, Saxmundham
With their fantastic location between Ipswich and Lowestoft, these cottages are the perfect base from which to explore all that Suffolk has to offer. There is a range of self catering accommodation, from The Gardener’s Cottage which sleeps four, to The Dairy, The Granary, The Old Stables and The Hayloft all sleeping six. Accommodating up to twenty-eight people is the Party Barn, ideal for making big celebrations that little bit special. The accommodation is cosy with a rustic feel, complete with features such as log fires and comfortable seating areas. The facilities on offer make this a fantastic destination for families – there is an outdoor swimming pool, an enclosed play area and even a tennis court if you fancy preparing for Wimbledon 2018!
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Just a few miles away is the beautiful seaside town of Aldeburgh, home to what is arguably one of the best known beaches in Suffolk. Consisting of a mix of sand and shingle, this is a great beach for soaking up the sun and taking in some of the country’s most spectacular coastal views. There is also a great selection of places to eat such as Ye Old Cross Keys, a pretty rural pub sat right on the coast. Alternatively there is the East Coast Café set in an old seaside coaching inn. You could also make the journey up the coast to Southwold, where you’ll find endless attractions and places to visit.
6. Seckford Hall, Woodbridge
Dating as far back as 1489, and with residents that are believed to have included Queen Elizabeth I, a stay at Seckford Hall will be like stepping in to history. With its long drive, landscaped gardens and ivy covered walls, this Tudor building will offer you the perfect romantic getaway. The 32 rooms are all en-suite with their own individual charm, featuring oak panelled ceilings and luxurious touches such as four poster beds. There is the excellent 1530 restaurant serving seasonal dishes in a location overlooking the beautiful grounds, or you can retreat to the Tudor Bar and settle down for the evening with a drink. Be sure to treat yourself at Seckford Spa too, recently refurbished and offering a range of sumptuous treatments that are too good to miss.
What to do:
Take the ten minute drive to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where you can spot the local wildlife and go for a walk in stunning surroundings. You could explore the world famous Sutton Hoo, a 7th Century burial site set in a beautiful yet haunting 225 acre estate. For places to eat, try The Anchor pub which is just a few minutes away, with a fantastic menu offering traditional pub food but with a modern twist.
7. The Hollies Camping and Leisure Resort, Kessingland
With a seaside location that is hard to beat, the Hollies Camping and Leisure Resort is the ideal destination for families and couples alike. 425 tent pitches line the coastal area so you will have wonderful views at your disposal, and facilities such as communal BBQs and toilet blocks with hot showers mean that you won’t go short on home comforts. If you’re hesitant to stay in a tent, don’t be put off because the Hollies also offers its own kind of ‘glamping’ – you can stay in one of the luxurious Safari Lodges, or try out the innovative ‘Glamtainer’. Here you’ll stay in a renovated shipping container but with a cosy interior featuring a sofa bed and TV, giving a modern spin on classic camping.
What to do:
It isn’t hard to see why the beautiful beach of Kessingland is as popular as it is. Its sands are totally unspoilt, and although it attracts large numbers of visitors in the summer it never feels busy because it is so large in size. The beach runs in to Benacre Nature Reserve which is famous for its fantastic bird-watching, or you can see some slightly bigger animals at Africa Alive, Kessingland’s very own safari park. The Waterfront is a family-friendly Mediterranean style restaurant sat right by the sea, or you can visit the traditional village pub The Sailors Home – you can also hire boats from here and discover your inner angler by going on a fishing trip.
8. Ivy House Hotel, Lowestoft
A hidden gem nestled on the banks of the Oulton Broads, the Ivy House Hotel is the ideal location for a weekend escape. Set in 21 acres of gardens, lawns, marshes and thatched barns, you will feel a world away from the stresses of day to day life – relax in the summer house with a cream tea, or find a peaceful spot in the gardens and watch the boats meander by on the broads. Stay the night in one of the luxurious rooms, such as the Oak Suite, set over two floors and with stunning garden views. The hotel’s Crooked Barn Restaurant takes advantage of the proximity to the sea, serving freshly caught seafood. The restaurant is so-called because of its crooked 16th Century beams, giving it a cosy, traditional feel.
What to do:
The Ivy House Hotel has a fantastic location with the bustling town of Lowestoft just five minutes down the road. Home to beautiful sandy beaches and an array of shops, boutiques and cafes, you won’t be left short of things to do whatever the weather. Go for a donkey ride or watch the spectacle of the Princess Royal Fountains, and if you’re up early enough make sure you catch the glorious sunrise from Ness Point. Alongside over 100 registered pubs in the area, there are some fantastic restaurants in Lowestoft such as the Rocksalt Brasserie on Claremont Pier.
9. Fasbourn Hall, Stowmarket
Offering luxury bed and breakfast accommodation in the heart of Mid-Suffolk, Fasbourn Hall is an idyllic slice of country life that you won’t ever want to leave. The building dates back to the 15th Century, and retains its original charm with medieval timbering and flashboards in the rooms which are all en-suite. The spacious Copynger and Fausebroun rooms boast their own fire places and seating areas, and all of the rooms come complete with biscuits and tea and coffee making facilities. You’ll be able to explore the 26 acres of gardens and pastureland that surround this beautiful hall, and start off each day with a full English breakfast in the traditional dining room.
What to do:
Lavenham, said to be Suffolk’s prettiest wool-town, is just a twenty minutes drive away and is well worth a visit. Here you can visit Lavenham Falconry and watch bird displays in 2 acres of wildflower meadow, or take a 2 and a half mile circular walk from Lavenham Church to explore the area’s natural beauty. For French cuisine of a fantastic standard, try The Great House which is renowned in the area for its amazing menu. The Lavenham Greyhound is a wonderful family-friendly pub, complete with a unique buttermilk waffle menu.
10. The Crown Hotel, Framlingham
With its wonky walls, creaky floors and exposed wooden beams, the Crown Hotel in Framlingham is a cornucopia of rustic charm and character. The 14 rooms are all en-suite and individually styled, each with their own quirky touches such as panelled walls and four poster beds. There are also family rooms available, comfortably sleeping up to four people. The restaurant at the Crown serves fantastic traditional pub food, with all the old favourites such as burgers and fish and chips.
What to do:
The Crown is nestled in the shadows of the famous Framlingham Castle, built in the late 12th Century by the powerful Bigod family. Although not ideal if you’re scared of heights, dare to wander along the ten and a half metre high wall which has been standing for over 800 years and learn all about the history of this fascinating area. Potter in to the town of Framlingham and explore the winding streets, sampling from the range of shops and local retailers. The Railway is a great family friendly pub located in the heart of the town, and the Dancing Goat Café right in the market square is the perfect destination for a morning coffee.