Once described by an ad campaign as ‘the curious county’, this area of East Anglia has an abundance of pretty towns, charming coastline and tranquil countryside. It has produced artists new and old including famed painters John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough and latterly, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. Here are some outstanding places to stay to experience Suffolk at its finest.
This country abode close to the village of Hemingstone was imagined and designed by its owner, architect Dominic Richards. It’s a mixture of standalone 16th-century barns and new build additions housing guest accommodations from one to four bedrooms. The style is farmhouse chic, with exposed beams, fireplaces, slate floors and the kind of sofas you can sink into. At the centre of the property lies the Grand Barn and the hotel’s restaurant with menus featuring seasonal local ingredients and produce from the onsite kitchen garden. There’s also a gym, sauna, steam room and spa with an alfresco hot tub.
The Ickworth Hotel
Laid back but classy, this super family-friendly establishment offers plenty of school holiday-friendly pursuits and rooms or apartments sleeping up to eight people. There’s tennis, swimming, croquet, badminton, bikes, a cinema room, creche and a kids club on-site, as well as free access to the nearby National Trust galleries. Adults can enjoy some alone or couple time with bespoke treatments in the spa, and candlelit meals at Federick’s. The hotel itself is an imposing 18th-century manor house enveloped by an enormous area of parkland, four miles from Bury St Edmunds.
Mismatched furniture, an honesty bar, copious family photos, a resident dog and an obliging butler give the sense that you’ve arrived to spend the weekend in an aristocrat’s home, rather than a public hotel. Rectory Manor is just along from the town of Lavenport and provides a range of activities (tennis, croquet, an outdoor pool), that add to this high-end home vibe. There are just three classically styled guest bedrooms in the main house, with further accommodation in a converted stable. In the morning, a hearty English breakfast is served, alongside a continental buffet.
Located in a peaceful idyll just a few miles from the university town of Cambridge, is the 17th century Tuddenham Mill. 12 acres of grounds include a pond with resident swans, weeping willows and a meadow. Stay in one of 21 boutique bedrooms (Nooks and Lofts) with lavish contemporary furnishings and rustic features. Dine in The Mill’s sleek three AA Rosette multi-award-winning restaurant or grab a drink in the airy lounge bar. The hotel is dog and child friendly, with special menus geared to younger visitors.
Hintlesham Hall Hotel
Set in 175 acres of land on the outskirts of Ipswich is Hintlesham Hall Hotel, a 32 bedroomed 16th-century hall with Georgian facade. The pale terracotta coloured main house is accompanied by two wings with an array of intact period features and shuttered windows. Climb the grand oak staircase to an expansive beamed suite in the eaves furnished in rich fabrics, or stay in a courtyard room close to the orchard (one of which had a former life as a culinary school kitchen). Chef Alan Ford cooks French cuisine eaten in Carrier’s Restaurant – a la carte or table d’hote, the choice is yours.