Hotel review: The Blakeney, Norfolk

Last year, I featured the Blakeney Hotel as a room with a view here on The Honeymoon Project, so when I was invited to stay and experience the hotel for myself, I jumped at the chance. I’m rather ashamed to say that this was my first visit to Norfolk, but I absolutely fell for the place – everyone always talks about how big the sky is up here and it’s absolutely true; I found myself constantly amazed by the sky throughout our weekend here.

Norfolk isn’t the easiest place in the UK to get to, but by the time you reach Blakeney it feels well worth it – that said, the journey from London was pretty straightforward, or it would have been if we hadn’t been stuck in traffic leaving London for two hours. We arrived at the hotel at around 9.10pm, late for our dinner reservation and slightly worried that we would get a bit of a frosty reception. This couldn’t have been further from the truth – the moment we stepped into the lovely, bright reception, we received the most friendly of welcomes and immediately felt at home. This was characteristic throughout our stay at the hotel – the staff really make this place feel homely, and are, almost without exception, charming and friendly, and always eager to help with recommendations on the local area.

We were supposed to be staying in one of their romantic balcony rooms – as featured on a room with a view – but due to ongoing renovations we were moved into a room in the Granary Annexe. This was no hardship – our room was huge (to the extent that it felt almost like a suite) and opened onto a lovely garden (shared with a few other rooms, but with our own small table and chairs) that had views over the marshes. The rooms have a country chic about them – furnishings are slightly traditional (think floral curtains) but touches like painted, distressed beside tables, and the use of pale greens and blues alongside creams and whites, make sure that they still feel up-to-date and modern. Our room was so comfortable that on our second night, after a cocktail in the lounge, we retreated to our room with the remainder of our bottle of wine from the night before.

The communal spaces in the hotel are a bit of a mixed bag – the corridors, lounges and reception are all beautifully furnished and retain that same rustic charm with modern sensibilities that our bedroom had, while the restaurant and bar feel a little old fashioned. The hotel was undergoing a few renovations while we were there – mainly to a corridor and a few bedrooms – although these will stop shortly as the season picks up, and I really hope that they choose to update the bar and restaurant soon to bring the spaces more into line with the rest of the property.

We ate dinner on our first night at the hotel and came away with mixed feelings. Our starters were fabulous – my fish soup was gorgeous, and Matthew’s local oysters were phenomenal (neither of us have ever seen any quite as big as the ones he was served). The rest of the meal wasn’t bad, by any stretch – Matthew’s steak was tender and my dish (halibut on savoy cabbage) tasted great – but it did feel very traditional, and just lacked a little finesse to bring it into the 21st century. That said, our major issues with the food, namely that my fish was a little overcooked and Matthew’s beef wasn’t as rare as he’d requested, were quite possibly down to the fact that it was so late when we finally sat down to eat. Breakfast, in my opinion, was pretty good – you could help yourself to a decent buffet spread of pastries, fruit, yoghurt and cereals, and then had a choice of cooked breakfasts, including a number of specials. I ordered off the specials menu on both days and enjoyed both dishes – scrambled egg and smoked salmon the first day, and Eggs Benedict the next – while Matthew ordered the cooked breakfast on the first day and found it a bit disappointing as it felt like it had been sat around for a while (but again, we ate quite late), but his choice off the specials on the second day was much more enjoyable.

The great selling point of the Blakeney Hotel is undoubtedly its position. Blakeney is a small village right on the north Nofolk coast, and the hotel faces onto the marshes that are so characteristic of this area. When the tide is in, however, the water can come so high that there’s no sign of the marshes and it gives the appearance that the hotel is right on the sea. On our first day, we started off by doing a walk around the marshes (there’s a flat, raised path around them that leads to the next village), but when we got to Cley – an utterly gorgeous little village with a pub that makes a decent stop – we decided to walk on to Holt, a further four miles away. Being so flat, the walking appears deceptively easy, though after doing twelve miles in total, we really felt the strain when we got back to the hotel. However, it was good to know that after dinner (we headed to nearby Wells for fish and chips) we could collapse on one of the supremely comfy sofas in the lounge with a well earned cocktail – the cocktails are quite remarkable value, starting at around £4.

We did really enjoy our stay here, even if we thought a few details could be improved, and felt that the staff, the position, and the decor of the lounges and rooms really made the hotel feel pretty special. This is a great part of the world to explore, and Blakeney is in an excellent position from which to see more of Norfolk – just a short drive on the Sunday took us to even more scenic villages, more marshland walks, more great pubs, and some absolutely beautiful stretches of beach. There’s also a swimming pool, gym and sauna in the hotel, which we enjoyed making use of – and we felt the hotel would be a good choice if you’re looking to honeymoon with young children. Just a few improvements will turn the Blakeney Hotel from a good hotel to a really great hotel – and one that we’d be more than happy to return to.

In a nutshell:

We loved: Our spacious, elegant room; the beautiful position; the lounges – perfect for after-dinner relaxing over coffee; the affordable cocktail list.

We weren’t so keen on: The old-fashioned feel of the restaurant and bar.

Ideal if you want: A quiet, coastal honeymoon, with ample opportunities for great walks, wonderful seafood, and access to some wild and beautiful beaches.

Need to know:

Blakeney Hotel, Blakeney, Norfolk, UK

Rates: From £158 (£79pp) in a “C” category room, including breakfast; stays of two nights or more include three-course dinner.

 

The Honeymoon Project was a guest of Blakeney Hotel; however all opinions are my own. 

Photographs © The Honeymoon Project

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