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The Norfolk Mead Hotel

With its own spa, eight acres of gorgeous grassy meadows and a frontage onto the River Bure, this Muddy Award winning Boutique Stay is the perfect place to get away from it all.

THE LOWDOWN

Hidden away at the end of a tiny dirt track, The Norfolk Mead Hotel is the buried treasure in the depths of sleepy Coltishall.  This peaceful Georgian country retreat is a world away from the candyfloss and chip shops of nearby Wroxham and has established itself as a go-to destination for fine dining and boutique stays plus a first-class wedding venue too.

Readers Treat alert! The lovely people at the Norfolk Mead have given us an Afternoon Tea and 30 minute spa treatment for two people to give away, enter HERE ….

THE VIBE

lounge room with purple high back chairs wooden floors and fire place

The colour scheme throughout is moody blues and soft greys, so it’s impossible not to relax as soon as you walk through the door. The reception, lounge and bar areas are designed with comfort in mind, with plenty of sofas and soft cushions dotted around and tables piled high with board games, newspapers and magazines. It’s very understated, traditional and homely – I was almost tempted to kick off my shoes.

garden with table, chairs and sun canopy

I would have loved to have ventured out into the Walled Garden with a cup of coffee but the weather was miserable; however, it’s easy to see that this would be a gorgeous summertime spot for afternoon tea or a glass of fizz or two. Instead I contented myself with roaming the corridors and looking at the Formula One memorabilia that covered the walls by the spa (the owners met whilst working for McLaren on the racing circuit. How’s that for a lifestyle change?!)

The spa itself was small but well-appointed, with its own range of beauty products and a full menu of beauty treatments available for men and women. Treatments should be booked in advance, although there is occasional availability on the day, and spa packages with afternoon teas, Sunday lunches or overnight stays are offered too.

spa room with bed

SCOFF & QUAFF

Our visit was a double birthday treat and we were determined to make the most of the evening. We were treated to marinated olives and homemade cheese straws which were swiftly followed by breads of the day and miso butter. A small selection of wines by the glass were available at around £7 for a large glass, while bottles ranged from £22 to £97.50. When it comes to the food, vegetarian options are featured for every course and the chefs are always happy to adjust the menu to suit vegans and those with other dietary requirements if notice is given in advance.

My dining companion plumped for the scallops to start, and plump they were! There were plenty of strong flavours in the dish – pickled kholrabi, soya-stained quails’ eggs, katsu sauce – but it all worked wonderfully well together. My hasselback artichoke with whipped feta was smoky and sharp, with a refreshing hint of pomegranate. I could cheerfully have eaten it for every course.

Strong flavours featured again in the main courses, and not least in the carrot and Marmite puree which accompanied the duck breast! There was no question of whether to love it or hate it, though: this was an absolute winner and the duck was perfectly pink on its bed of fresh local vegetables. My cod loin was twinned with sea purslane and samphire, two Norfolk favourites that I’m always happy to see on a menu, and they didn’t disappoint.

We couldn’t turn down the offer of dessert – it was a double birthday celebratio after all – and there were some really unusual choices on the menu. The almond crème brûlée with sea buckthorn, fudge ice-cream and elderflower cake sounded particularly intriguing, but the chocolate peanut butter marquise with banoffee and tiramisu parfait ticked every one of my sweet-tooth boxes. Across the table was the coffee cake with mango gel and pecan ice-cream which was artfully presented and tasted as good as it looked.

Just when we’d assured ourselves that we couldn’t possibly eat another mouthful, this little surprise arrived: homemade macarons and nougat to celebrate the occasion. It was a lovely touch and unsurprisingly, we managed to fit them in somehow. All for the purposes of the review, of course…

PILLOW TALK

I don’t think I’ve ever had a super-kingsize bed to myself but after this, I fully intend to make a habit of it. I was in Chanterelle – the bridal suite – which had its own veranda looking out over the River Bure. I’m not sure I felt like a bride, but as I settled myself into a mountain of fluffy pillows, I certainly felt like a princess.

The room was large and elegantly furnished but it was also warm and cosy and the bathroom was well-stocked with toiletries from the Natural Spa Factory, which are used in the hotel’s own spa too. There was a tray with a good selection of coffees and herbal teas and a little package of homemade brownies which looked so good, I saved it until the morning….and promptly left it in the hotel room.

white furnished bedroom with two armchairs

It was a struggle to get up for breakfast – after all, who’d want to leave a bed like that? But I’m glad I did. As you’d expect, there was a full continental buffet with pastries, cereals, homemade granola and local dairy produce, and a hot menu which included fish options and a Champagne breakfast for the ultimate start to the day.

OUT & ABOUT

blue boat in rushes

The Norfolk Mead Hotel is perfectly situated at the gateway to the Norfolk Broads, and indeed you can hire their exclusive six-seater English Harbour Yacht and sail down the Norfolk Broads (picnics can be provided). For the adventurous, there’s a lovely wild swimming spot in Coltishall.

Norwich and Aylsham are a short drive and recently voted two of the best places to live in the East, click here for our review of Muddy things to do. If you prefer to get back to nature, you can hike, bike or navigate around the famous waterways of the Broads and nearby Felbrigg Hall has some great nature trails. If you’re more of a beach person, head north to Cromer for it’s famous pier, amusements and fish ‘n’ chips.

Muddy award-winning BeWILDerwood is just around the corner too, a great place to tire out the mudlings, giving you the evening to relax in the spa.

Muddy Verdict: It was impossible to do anything but unwind at The Norfolk Mead Hotel. The pace was gentle, the rooms wonderfully comfortable and the overall experience was effortless and relaxed. It’s a very unassuming place but there is so much attention to detail. The mark on our wine menu was seen before we’d noticed it ourselves and a replacement found immediately; the birthday macarons were a wonderful surprise, especially as the occasion had been mentioned only once in passing. If I’m ever in need of a night away from it all, I’ll be certain to head back here.

Good For: Couples, spa breaks, weddings and celebrations.

Not For: Party animals: this is all about kicking back and switching off.

The Damage: The accommodation at The Norfolk Mead Hotel includes standard and deluxe rooms and suites and there are cottages and summerhouses available in the grounds. Rooms start from £135 for bed and breakfast; book via their email address for the best rates. Dinner is generally £31.50 for two courses or £40 for three courses and booking is essential.

Top Tip: If you’ve stayed at the hotel before, let them know when you book your room as they run a loyalty scheme.

The Norfolk Mead Hotel, Church Loke, Coltishall, Norwich, NR12 7DN, 01603 737531, info@norfolkmead.co.uk

Words: Hannah Colby

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