If you fancy somewhere with a little bit more 'to do' in North Norfolk - Byfords offers a 'posh' B&B experience with independent boutiques, galleries and pubs right on it's doorstep.
Byfords is an institution when it comes to places to visit in the pretty market town of Holt in North Norfolk.
Believed to be the oldest house in Holt (the cellar dates back to the 15th Century), Byfords has survived the Great Fire of 1708 and has been in the same family for over 100 years.
Originally a hardware store and ironmonger, it is now a very popular store/café/restaurant/posh B&B and manages to do all things incredibly well. Whether you’re popping in for a fresh sausage roll or a cheeky romantic night away, I highly recommend you carry on reading.
Their 16 rooms are beautifully designed with just the right balance of individual luxury style and homely comfort. Catering for all holiday makers, they offer posh and standard doubles, a family space with two seperate rooms and a self contained luxury apartment that sleeps five.
The entrance to the B&B reception is at the back of the building where you’ll find a small car park plus there’s a public car park just around the corner.
The traditional Norfolk flint rendering leads into a warm and cosy wooden interior. The cafe/restaurant has several dining spaces – the first room is used as the breakfast area in the morning (open to locals) and reminds me a little of the Round House in London due to its shape, high ceilings and exposed beams. Great for larger parties and events. There are lots of smaller dining areas with wooden divides – perfect for a date night or hiding the kids. Finally, two dining rooms divided by the biggest inglenook fire place and home to my favourite table in the window with views over the main street.
Cosy is the first word that springs to mind, imagine a warren – low ceilings, exposed flint walls, flagstone floors and lots of original wood panelling. Some lovely nods to the orginal structure with small indoor windows left in situ and I loved the statement furniture pieces including the church dresser, Chesterfield styled seating and shabby chic leather sofas in the reception.
I always notice the music as it can really add to the overall experience – too loud, too complacent and too often overlooked. I loved the acoustic covers of Birdie, Tracey Chapman and Kings of Leon – well done to the playlist DJ.
The Byford family are quite rightly proud of the journey this building has been on and showcase it on the walls and in their range of lovely merchandise.
THE SCOFF & QUAFF
First thing to note – the self service (free) bread, oils and nuts which gets a big muddy tick from me but make sure you don’t pig out and spoil your main meal!
The menu is exhaustive with lots of different foodie options from a lunchtime soup and flat bread melts to evening sharing and grazing platters. You’ll also find stone baked pizzas and a selection of mains including Kedgeree, steak & suet pudding and pastas. Catering for all food needs from young to old – it was hard to choose. Don’t get me started on the yummy selection of homemade cakes, pasties and desserts.
Having already scoffed one of their complimentry cream teas on arrival we opted for a selection of small grazing dishes – calamari, crispy chilli beef, satay chicken, seasame coated prawns, chips and a salad (balance is important).
I’m going to have to admit, I took ill shortly after sitting down to eat (it wasn’t alcohol induced I promise), so my trusty side kick Mr O had to battle on and report back his findings. The verdict – a lovely medley of flavours which he enjoyed in a wonderfully romantic setting for one!
Having eaten for two, I’m afraid Mr O didn’t partake in dessert but if the scones were anything to go by, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Three variations of cheescake and sundaes (or make your own) plus a cheese board bursting with local produce.
Breakfast was a fabulous spread of pastries, scones and cereals plus several cooked options. Portions were generous, perfect for filling up before a long hike along the coastal path. Illness deprived me again but Mr O made up for it by trying everything and the kedgeree got a big thumbs up.
Forever the optimist – at least I have an excuse to come back!
Room No.1 was a beautiful mix of contempory style and period charm. The beams, wrought iron window panels, wood panelling and exposed brickwork fireplace gave the room a grand stately feel. Rich burgundys and blues dominated the colour scheme and the mix of patterned drapes, throws and cushions brought an added warmth to the room.
The carved wooden canopy bed frame made me feel like a Queen and I loved the old writing bureaux, chaise longe and marble topped bedside tables. Local interior designer Sarah Tribe always manages to put together patterns, period furniture and quirky objets in a way that you’d not dare to at home.
The bathroom had a large bath and seperate drench shower and I particularly liked the fresh flowers, candles and jar of bath salts – nice touch.
All the room names have a local theme from wildflowers to grand houses and each is brought to life by a well known local resident in a forward explaining the importance of each to the area. Our room was named after The Iconic Brown Hare which has folklaw tales of spiritual ways, myth and legend. BBC/freelance cameraman, author (My Year with Hares) and owner of North Norfolk Safaris – Martin Hayward Smith explains why the Brown Hare is of such local importance. I loved this nod to the local – a great way of sharing the best of our cultural and natural heritage to visitors.
All the Muddy staples are ticked – Egyptian cotton sheets, duck down duvets and pillows, in room refrigerator, luxury cosmetics and a modern entertainment system. Plus yummy shortbread on arrival and a jar of good night cookies on the landing to grab on your way to bed – niiiiiice.
OUT & ABOUT
Plenty of independent shops and galleries to discover, such as Adrian Hill Fine Arts, Fairfax & Favor (shoes, boots and bags), The Tannery (luxe leather everything) and dog boutique Woofers & Barkers. Plus the second insitution – Bakers & Larners of Holt which dates back to 1770 and has that fabulous old fashioned department store feel – “I’m free” (showing my age now!)
You’re perfectly situated to explore the Norfolk coast – jump on the North Norfolk steam train just outside Holt and travel to the traditional seaside town of Sheringham. In the other direction – head towards Morston and Blakeney where you can take a seal trip.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: People wanting to escape to the coast but not wanting to fall completely off grid. Those who like country cosy luxe with a side of honest homely food.
Not for: The über trendy, party people or anyone looking to experience the wilds of North Norfolk.
The Damage: Price per night, B&B starting from £135 for a double and apartment, £155 for posh and £235 for the family room. Lunch from £6.50, dinner from £13.95, pizzas £13.25, grazing dishes £4.35 and dessert £7.25. Afternoon Tea £17.50pp.