Boasting quaint villages, sprawling beaches and acres of countryside, Norfolk has most definitely stolen the hearts of many Brits looking to escape the city. It’s by no means the easiest of journeys from London but we can assure you that the trip is 100% worth it. Crawling with organic delis, gastro country pubs and boutique hotels, Norfolk has reinvented itself as a bit of a trendy hotspot over the years. With endless walking routes to discover Norfolk ticks, all the boxes for a staycation come rain or shine.
STAY AT THE HARPER…
Newly opened boutique hotel, The Harper, situated in the village of Langham, North Norfolk provides the perfect hub for a staycation with endless things to do right on your doorstep. A home-from-home for guests, The Harper has a choice of areas to relax and enjoy, from The Den to The Bar, The Yard, restaurant Stanley’s and their very own living room, Ivy’s.
The perfect balance between contemporary design and farmhouse style, the interior of The Harper is oozing with character and charm. With mismatched furniture, exposed brick, eccentric coffee table books and stand out artwork gracing the walls, the decor instantly sets the cool, laidback scene as you enter The Harper, which is evoked through the staff and general vibe throughout the hotel.
Housing just 32 rooms, ranging from big, bigger and biggest, The Harper is the epitome of a ‘boutique hotel’, with no two rooms being the same. The bed itself is always the telling point when it comes to a hotel stay and it’s safe to say The Harper passed with flying colours, furnished with a deluxe Casper mattress and opulent linens to send you into a deep slumber.
Serving up local seasonal food, The Harper follows a ‘where land meets sea’ ethos to echo the Norfolk county surroundings. Following in the hotels’ easy-going manner, guests can choose to eat wherever they fancy, whether it’s the Den, Ivy’s or The Bar for a relaxed meal or Stanley’s for a more fine dining experience. The anywhere, anytime menu has so many mouth-watering meals to choose from including the charred peppers and corn with crunchy avocado and black bean quinoa, the Norfolk Coast shellfish linguini and the butternut and coconut curry with lemongrass sticky rice. Breakfast is a casual affair at Stanley’s with a choice of polished classics on the menu accompanied by fresh pastries plus yoghurt and fruit compote, think full English, boiled eggs with sourdough soldiers and smashed avo on toast topped with fresh smoked salmon and a poached egg. Come dinnertime, Stanley’s a la carte menu features some sensational dishes, scallop, tempura soft shell crab and crisp pork belly with caramelised apple purée and whole sea bass with Norfolk samphire, baby marrow and smoked almonds, Norfolk peers and lime butter being two of the dishes we were in awe of.
The Den was definitely one of the coolest elements at The Harper, providing the ultimate hangout spot with loved ones. Filled with comfy leather sofas, board games, a pool table and a grand-scale projector for movie nights, this cosy hideout is exactly where you’ll want spend the evening after a day of exploring the coast. It’s the small touches that make The Harper so special, the ‘help yourself’ wine fridge in the Den being one of them!
No boutique hotel would be complete without a spa for maximising indulgence during your stay. Slots are bookable for the indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room which you will have all to yourself! The bespoke treatment list is curated by Irene Forte, the Italian Skincare expert with her own line of incredible products that we’ve loved since they were first launched in the UK. With a philosophy deeply embedded in sustainability and culture, the ingredients are grown on their organic farm in Sicily. The Harper is lucky enough to be the first and only UK hotel outpost offering the Mediterranean skincare treatments. From regenerating facials to tailored massages, the treatments harness the power of science and nature working in harmony for a luxuriously pampered experience.
Committed to making sure your stay is as comfortable and pleasurable as possible, the staff at The Harper make it for us. Keen to give you recommendations on where to visit it’s always best to get the insiders tips and it’s even nicer when people are so eager to give them.
With just the right combination of rough-hewn and refined, The Harper totally won us over. It’s safe to say that we’ll be visiting again as soon as possible. As the hotel has recently opened we highly recommend getting booked in while it’s still exclusive, it will definitely be flooding the feeds of all the ‘in the know’ travel influencers in no time!
STOCK UP ON ORGANIC FRUIT & VEG AT THE STIFFKEY STORE…
We managed to stumble across the most picturesque local store, stocking way more than your average souvenirs. The organic grocery shop come coffee shop come general store is stacked with unique bits and bobs including championing sustainability, we wanted to take home just about everything in this shop including a rattan rainbow basket and floaty organic cotton kaftan. Perfect for a pit stop, you can have a browse and grab a tea and cake to enjoy in the lovely outdoor seating area.
SPEND THE AFTERNOON AT HOLKHAM BEACH…
Adorned with vast open space, untouched scenery and minimal crowds, there’s no wonder Holkham Beach is voted one of the best in the UK. There’s something so serene about watching the crystal clear waters gently kiss the velvety shore on this little slice of sandy heaven. Be prepared to take off your shoes as the tides can come right out leaving the entire beach glistening with shallow waters, besides having a little paddle in the sea is so grounding, we highly recommend it! Whether it’s the height of the summer or the depths of the winter, Holkham beach will provide you with its magical bliss.
PICK UP A LOAF OF AWARD-WINNING SOURDOUGH AT PASTONACRE…
Pastonacre is the little village bakery in Cley that we had to mention. The pastries are utterly delicious, we were drooling over the sticky cardamom bun, raspberry sourdoughnuts and vanilla cruffin! The hearty baguettes are also perfect for bagging up and taking down to the beach for a picnic.
TAKE A CLASS WITH WILD YOGA…
Wild Yoga Norfolk is hosted in a variety of places across North Norfolk, including indoors at Fakenham and Harpley and open-air in Brancaster Staithe at the Wild Yoga Garden. Hosting Yinyasa flows, Yoga Nidra plus Yin and sound bath meditation, Wild Yoga is passionate about supporting women to connect with their bodies. Founder, Emilie Joy Garrould leads the zen-filled sessions that will leave you feeling re-energised and grounded.
HAVE LUNCH AT THE DUN COW
Gaze over uninterrupted views of the salt marshes whilst dining at The Dun Cow in Salthouse. The gastropub provides top-notch grub, with nods to the North Norfolk coast throughout the menu. The fresh Brancaster oysters are a must-have when visiting, the crispy Thai crab and cod bonbons and are also noteworthy! In the summer, dine alfresco out on the lawn and in the winter cosy up inside next to the roaring fire.
SAY HELLO TO SOME SEALS AT BLAKENEY POINT
Home to England’s largest Grey Seal colony, Blakeney Point is the closest you’ll get to these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. Book a ferry trip in advance to avoid disappointment as you won’t be able to walk to see the seals. Little wildlife lovers will thoroughly enjoy this one so make sure you don’t miss out, also wrap up warm as it can get pretty chilly out at sea (tea in a flask is a good idea)!
Giving you the wow factor without the hoards of people, North Norfolk is buzzing with low key luxury, great foodie spots, romantic beaches and idyllic countryside to explore. Perfect for urban escapees longing to indulge in nature, North Norfolk has got our vote for being one of the UK’s best staycation destinations, with The Harper being the one place we’ll be checking into every time!
words by Isabelle Shury