Explore this area of outstanding beauty in style with Polly Robinson’s guide to the spectacular Suffolk coast
Blow away the cobwebs with long walks by the sea on Suffolk coast, explore independent shops and tuck into local food at the many great pubs and cafes. It’s closer to London than you think yet feels a million miles away.
In summer Suffolk beaches bustle with families and the seaside towns of Aldeburgh, Southwold and Orford can feel like London-on-Sea, but out of season you can find peace and space.
Artists and musicians have made their homes here from Benjamin Britten to Ed Sheehan and Maggie Hambling who’s controversial Scallop sculpture is a landmark on the empty beach between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness.
Where to stay
1 Five Acre Barn, Aldringham
A striking contemporary architect-design barn set in five acres of gardens and woodland close to the coast. London refugees, David and Bruce, offer bed and breakfast in five light-filled suites in a cedar-clad extension.
Each has access to the garden and their own decking area. You’re encouraged to make yourself at home – fix yourself a drink, settle down with a book in the garden, or huddle round the fire pit. www.fiveacrebarn.co.uk
2 The Swan, Southwold
Adnam’s flagship hotel in the centre of Southwold saw a major refurbishment in 2017 and has been transformed from traditional to luxury boutique hotel.
The 35 bedrooms feature bright pinks, emerald greens and royal blues. Of course Adnam’s beers and spirits are showcased in the informal Tap Room, while the more formal Still Room serves an A La Carte Menu. theswansouthwold.co.uk
3 Crown Cottage, Orford
There’s no shortage of pretty cottages to rent for a weekend in Suffolk. We like the look of Crown Cottage in Orford within rolling out of bed distance of Pump Street Bakery to collect your breakfast pastries pastries.
There are three stylish bedrooms and a contemporary kitchen and bathroom and a pretty courtyard to enjoy your evening G&T. airbnb.co.uk
Where to eat
1 Best for brunch: Darsham Nurseries, Darsham,
Darsham Nurseries wouldn’t look out of place in founder David Keleel’s native California.
White walls, a checkerboard floor, colourful flowers from the garden and light pouring in from the gardens which supply the salad and vegetables, In the summer the doors are open to small dining terrace.
Breakfast, brunch, and lunch menus are driven by the seasons with the chefs working alongside the garden team to produce vegetable-led dishes.
Local fish and meat feature – try Streaky bacon with house brown sauce for breakfast or Sutton Hoo Chicken leg with leek and potato hash. Open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays only. darshamnurseries.co.uk/cafe/
2 Best for seafood: Butley Orford Oysterage, Orford
The Pinney family have been fishing and smoking fish as well as cultivating oysters since the 1950s.
Their restaurant opened in the 1960s in Orford’s pretty village square is totally unreconstructed, marble-topped tables and chalked up specials are all part of the charm.
Oysters, lobster, fresh fish and smoked fish come fresh from the boat or smokehouse down the lane and served simply. Visit their shop on Orford Quay to stock up on fishy treats to take home. pinneysoforford.co.uk
3 Best for brand and pastries: Pump Street Bakery, Orford
Renowned as one of the country’s best artisan bakeries and bean-to-bar chocolate makers, you’ll often have to queue for a place at the long communal table at Pump Street Bakery, but it will be worth the wait.
Excellent Monmouth Coffee to go with crisp buttery pasties. Juices, granola and eggs with ham or bacon at breakfast, while lunch includes seasonal soups, tarts, salads and cheese. pumpstreetbakery.com
What to do
Browse the independent shops and galleries in Aldeburgh and Southwold. Aldeburgh is rightly famous for its fish & chips which taste best on the beach, or pick up a picnic from cheese-specialist Slate which has shops in both towns. Southwold is also home to Adnam’s brewery and distillery which runs daily tours for visitors.
Southwold’s Pier must be one of the most stylish piers in the country and take plenty of coins for the quirky Under the Pier Show where you can while a way a wet afternoon on Tim Hunkin’s eccentric machines.
Stroll the long beach and Dunwich and listen out for the church bells of the lost medieval city under the sea and be stunned by awe-inspiring murmurations at Minsmere.
To find out more and start the adventure, click here.
Words by Polly Robinson