Muddy Stays: The Old Lighthouse, Hunstanton
There aren't many overnight stays as unusual or as glorious as this one - book now for 2018
I’ve been excited about staying at The Old Lighthouse ever since I posted a feature on the best quirky places to stay in Britain back in March. Even then, the first available night was nine months’ later – on December 8. Nine months? I could have conceived and given birth to a bouncing baby in that time (I said could…!). It just goes to show how popular staying at a property of this grandeur is. And talk about different…
Still, I wasn’t sure about what to pack. Would I need super-duper warm clothes, a sailor’s hat and a fog horn? Would there be coffee (yes), central heating (yes) and a fully-equipped kitchen (yes). Would I be kept awake by a bright, rotating light (no)?
I needn’t have worried. Despite being built in 1665, The Old Lighthouse has been beautifully resorted to a four-bedroom, four bathroom home complete with fully-fitted kitchen, big lounge-cum-diner and 360-degree ocean views.
Located on the cliffs between Hunstanton and Old Hunstanton, the living areas are wonderfully topsy-turvy, with the lounge and kitchen on the top floor to make the best use of the vistas. All the bedrooms (bar one) are below. Despite it’s size, the owners have worked hard to make the lounge/diner uber cosy with an over-sized, curved sofa for flopping in front of the large flat screen, and cushions aplenty.
The wood floors and neutral walls are natural and rustic, in keeping with the natural surroundings, while chrome lamps add a more nautical, industrial edge.
As soon as we enter, the kids (of which there are three, all under six) immediately run to the sparkly Christmas tree, which has been thoughtfully decorated, and the feature fire with its dancing ‘flames’ adding more of that ‘cosy’.
The dining area would easily seat eight and is perfectly-positioned for eating meals without moving from the lounge (or the views).
If your visit is in the summer, fling open the lounge doors and breakfast or dine on the large furnished balcony. Your pooch is welcome too, so long as he/she doesn’t go in the bedrooms; there’s also a small garden.
The kitchen was my favourite room (often the case) – and, for once, I loved the fact that it was separated from the lounge-diner. Why? Because it meant the children could safely play in the lounge; my friend and I could drink wine at the breakfast bar, stare at the beach and put the world to rights.
There’s a grey marble top counter, sage-green cupboards, a dishwasher and a Rangemaster cooker. Even the fridge/freezer is large and shiny. The bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and locally-made ginger cake left for us was a welcome treat.
There’s even a large windowsill behind the breakfast bar with a pair of binoculars waiting to be used, so you can get even closer to the ocean.
At the top end of the kitchen is a little snug area with two armchairs and a telescope (not pictured here), perfect for gazing at the stars come nightfall. Even better views are guaranteed from the balcony.
We began our evening with a walk up to the top of the tower – up several winding steps and through a hatch roof – to see the view from the highest vantage point. While this probably isn’t the easiest of things to do with three little ones in tow, they were tres excited – and we couldn’t resist showing them the stars.
We then went underneath the tower to see the old dungeons, threatening to send the kids down here if they didn’t behave (always works a treat).
For now though, dinner. There are several options for eating at The Lighthouse: order in (there’s an Indian in Hunstanton which comes recommended), cook (with a kitchen this well-equipped why not? Just bring cooking oil et al), have a chef come and cook for you (perfect for a special occasion) or, do as we did, and walk to The Lodge, a nearby bar/restaurant which won Best Bar last year in the Muddy Stiletto Awards (more in a separate post).
With the wind howling and the stars in full view, it was a bracing 10-minute walk along Lighthouse Lane; one which set us up nicely for an open fire and great evening meal. Luckily, the elements weren’t quite as lively as those in the picture below, but the views were none-the-less spectacular.
On piling back to The Old Lighthouse (lit-up like a beacon in the night sky and deliciously resembling something out of a 1970s fright movie), we cracked open the wine, turned up the fire and put the kids to bed.
Each of the four bedrooms has an en-suite facility – either a wet room, a large shower room or a bathroom – making The Lighthouse a convenient stay for groups of friends or extended families. We were three adults and three children, and managed the configuration perfectly.
All rooms are good-size doubles with comfy beds, white wooden shutters, tongue-and-groove wardrobes and wooden desks or dressing tables; some even boast original brick walls.
The en-suites are all modern and clean with white metro tiling, fawn cupboards and earthy-hued floor tiles (can you imagine cleaning all of these – no thanks?!).
I loved all the little nautical nods, too – think round wooden mirrors, glass bottles on windowsills, anchor key-rings and boaty welcome signs.
The next morning, kids up early and excitable (aren’t they always?), we all pile into the kitchen in our pyjamas to make much-needed coffee (some of us stayed up until 3am drinking wine – ho hum) and dippy eggs with toast. The views in the daylight are staggering (we arrived in the dark) with each of us commenting on how nice it is to wake up and greet the morning this way.
An hour later, with one adult packing, another one in the shower and all three children staring at a Christmas movie on the television, I find a spot on the windowsill and get lost in the sea, cup of fresh joe in hand. Moments like these are a rarity.
Staying at The Old Lighthouse isn’t just a wonderful break away, it’s a complete privilege. Book your 2018 stay now, before it’s too late.