As we head out of London on a Saturday, the air gets notably fresher as the scenery grows more and more colourful. Skies are blue, pink blossom trees scatter the roadside, and bright yellow rapeseed fields stretch out for miles. We admire the impressively tall trees of Thetford Forest before winding through Norfolk’s sleepy country lanes, eventually arriving at the very pretty Burnham Market, where here The Hoste is our home for the weekend.
Originally a coaching inn (favoured by Lord Nelson no less), The Hoste is now a beautiful boutique hotel with a popular pub underneath, a great restaurant and a spa. We arrive just before sunset to locals and guests enjoying glasses of white wine on the pub benches as the evening sun bounces off the walls. We check in and are escorted to our room in Vine House, which is separate from the main building, across the road in a beautiful ivy-covered terrace building – one of the 6 individual properties that make up The Hoste. Our room, number 57, is stunning. Pretty duck-egg blue patterned wallpaper stretches up to high ceilings, the bed has a beautiful padded satin headboard and is dressed with crisp white sheets and a dozen cushions that match the teal sofa at its foot, a gilt-framed mirror is so giant it almost covers an entire wall, and through the windows is the beautiful blossom-filled garden. But the highlight has to be the bathroom. Through glass doors a claw-foot bathtub is centred between his and her sinks, and set against a beautiful strip of floral tiles. Warm tile floors, gleaming white porcelain and spotless chrome taps exude utter luxury. The shower features the same pretty floral tiles and has a giant rainfall showerhead I want to dive straight under.
Getting ready for dinner is a delight; his and hers sinks mean no elbow jabbing for the mirror, plus there’s the giant one in the bedroom which is so regal you feel like a princess doing your full outfit checks. We head across the road back to the main house for dinner, via the lounge in Vine House which has big sofas, the type that swallow you up, brass trinkets and candles, and bold cameo flocked wallpaper. Elegance really is on point.
Down at dinner, we’re tucked into a lovely table in the corner in the busy wooden panelled dining room. Unlike the rooms, which are very contemporary and luxe, down here you get a real feel for the hotel’s age – which dates right back to the 17th Century. We kick things off with a bottle of French Chardonnay whilst perusing the menu, which is quite rightly full of seafood — we’re just 2 ½ miles from the nearest beach. A waiter reels off the Specials, which include hand-dived scallops and roast monkfish, all caught earlier that day by The Hoste’s local sea man.
Ed goes ahead and orders the scallops, which are giant and juicy, amped up further with rounds of black pudding and flakes of crispy pancetta. I’m slightly jealous of his order, though my Cromer crab is also delicious, piled into a compressed round and topped with a rich celeriac remoulade. We stick with the local seafood, impressed so far, and I opt for the monkfish for my main. The thick fillet has been well griddled so is nicely crisp, and is served on a generous pile of new potatoes lovingly doused in pesto and olive tapenade. The combination of the fresh fish against the rich flavours is done particularly well here. He opts for the sea bass; two grilled fillets are served on a round of tabouleh, which is made more exciting with grilled peppers and fresh crab, and makes for an extra fishy dish. After a rich sticky toffee pudding that finishes us off, we waltz next door into the pub for a quick night cap, pondering over the fact that Lord Nelson could have sat in our very seats as this was his local watering hole.
Needless to say, we sleep like logs in the comfiest bed with soft Egyptian sheets and more pillows than you know what to do with. Morning comes, I make coffee and read the paper which has been kindly dropped outside our door, shower and go on to run a bath. I’m telling you, the bathroom is too pretty not to spend time in.
Breakfast is a delight, served in the pretty garden room, which is full of light and wicker chairs. A full English breakfast is available buffet style, as are plenty of Continental options. We fill ourselves up for the day, particularly impressed by the sausages (and the veggie sausages!).
Alas the time has come to leave our beautiful ‘home’. One last lie down on the bed, one last touch of the beautiful wallpaper, and one last look at the bathroom and we’re out of there, vowing to go back soon. Before heading back to the city, we make the most of our time here by the sea, wandering up and down the endless sands of Holkham Beach, going for an ice cream in Wells-next-the-sea, before stopping at The Victoria pub for our last local pint.
Ed and I were guests of Vine House, where rooms start at £175/night. This piece was originally written for Grazia Daily