Stylish mismatched Victorian luxe, first-class food and a private hot tub - what more do you need for a cheeky escape from reality?
Situated on the very edge of Titchwell’s RSPB Nature Reserve, with views over the North Norfolk Coastline, Titchwell Manor is a family-run boutique hotel which offers a fine dining experience in one of the prettiest areas of the county. It’s certainly a stylish stay and perfect for a grown-up escape with friends or a cheeky romantic liaison.
We’d heard many good things and our expectations were high. So would we be made to feel like Lords of the Manor? There was only one way to find out…
From the outside, Titchwell Manor doesn’t appear to be that grand, and to be honest, our eyes were drawn more to the rain-soaked views of the North Sea on the opposite side of the road. But once inside and dripping puddles on the tiles, it was clear that the theme here is understated elegance. The decor could be described as tastefully-mismatched Victorian luxe and the mermaid wallpaper was particularly striking and totally appropriate for the wettest day of the year.
The main body of the Manor contains the Eating Rooms, a relaxed area with a gorgeous coastal view where you can enjoy lunchtime snacks and also an evening meal (in the company of your dog, should you wish!) Next to this is the bar which is filled with natural light during the day and cosy and warm in the evenings, and the reception with the biggest (and brightest!) Chesterfield sofa imaginable.
Everything is beautifully decorated in bold, warm colours and is a blend of heritage style with a modern twist. But the most refreshing thing for us was the fact that despite its history and reputation, there was no trace of snobbery about Titchwell Manor. We were greeted warmly, helped with cases, offered fresh milk and shown around with a smile. We were off to a good start, and when we were shown the menu for dinner, we had the sense that things were about to get even better still.
SCOFF & QUAFF
After a long and soggy walk on the beach that afternoon, dinner was eagerly anticipated and we weren’t disappointed. We were seated in the conservatory, which was warm and airy and festooned with fairy lights and we munched on warm focaccia with homemade butter whilst we waited for our food.
Titchwell Manor takes pride in always sourcing the best ingredients, which will be local where possible, and there were some really interesting choices on the menu: dashi, sea buckthorn and cordyceps, to name but a few. There is always at least one vegetarian and vegan option for starters and mains, and most of the desserts are vegetarian (vegans can be accommodated with fruit salad and sorbets). The wine list is varied, with a range that stretches from just below our bottle of Viognier (£24.75) to a Château Pichon (£240), including a good by-the-glass selection and a half-bottle list too.
When you’re this close to the coast, seafood is a must. There were plenty of interesting dishes on the menu but I played it safe and went with scallop gratin, which was delicious. My carnivorous companion opted for the veal sweetbread with seagrass, which was described as having so much flavour it was “like a delicate punch in the mouth.” I’m not sure that this is an expression that’s ever been used in a review before but it was definitely meant as a compliment!
Our main courses couldn’t have been more different in both taste and presentation. I chose the curried monkfish, which was served with mussels, squashes and saffron cauliflower and which was filled with delicate hints of spice and kaffir lime. On the other side of the table was the venison Rossini, which was gamey, earthy and rich with truffle, beetroot and blackberry. It might have been too overpowering for some – and as it was served with foie gras, not to everyone’s liking – but both dishes were visually spectacular and on the opposite ends of the flavour spectrum.
The tarte tatin looked amazing but it did have to be ordered in advance (it was also served for two people and I’m not one for sharing desserts!) Instead I plumped for banana and peanut butter parfait, which was encased in the gooiest marshmallow imaginable and which would have satisfied even the sweetest of teeth! My dinner date was concerned that the treacle tart could be too sugary, but all fears were unfounded: it was light and crispy and the pastry was perfect. It didn’t last long enough to take a photo!
After all that food, there was barely room to squeeze down a quick snifter from the well-stocked bar, but somehow we managed to stay awake, despite the effects of the sea air and that very cosy Chesterfield in the reception area. But why would you fall asleep on a sofa when such a beautiful room was waiting around the corner?
Titchwell Manor has rooms both inside the main building and in the grounds, all of varying standards and prices and some with accessible facilities. All the rooms have free WiFi, White Company toiletries, digital TVs, tea and coffee facilities and hairdryers. We stayed in Room 22 – Parsley – which, to our utter delight, is one of three rooms with a hot tub! Ignoring the fact that it was monsoon season in North Norfolk, we jumped straight in (after all, once you’re in a hot tub, a little more water doesn’t really matter!)
Inside the room, we discovered a fridge stocked with complimentary beers and soft drinks. The decor was neutral, earthy tones and the room itself was wonderfully quiet. We were directly opposite the car park but a wooden fence and plenty of foliage meant that we were private and soundproofed. It was the perfect place to relax and in the morning, we were woken gently by the natural light coming in through the skylight in the ceiling. Bliss. Checkout was also a very civilised 11.30am, so we could enjoy the delights of breakfast without feeling rushed to vacate the room.
I’m a big breakfast fan and the spread was impressive. Most of the cereals and granolas are made in the Titchwell kitchens and there were a wide variety of homemade conserves for our toast too. After freshly-squeezed fruit juiced and pastries – well, you’ve got to have a starter course at breakfast, haven’t you? – I continued my seafood theme from the previous night with a smoked haddock omelette whilst my breakfast buddy tucked into roasted avocado and poached eggs on toast. Breakfast doesn’t get much better than that.
OUT & ABOUT
The location of Titchwell Manor is perfect for enjoying everything that the beautiful North Norfolk coast has to offer. If wildlife is your thing, you’re in for a treat as you’re just a stone’s throw from RSPB Titchwell Marsh. Brancaster beach is a short walk away and just down the road in Thornham is Eric’s Fish & Chips which is not to be missed, even after a full breakfast: Eric is also the Head Chef at Titchwell Manor so you can dunk your traditional beef-dripping chips in his black garlic mayonnaise. And if you need a bit of exercise after all that food, there’s always the glorious Holkham Beach (which remained glorious in the wind and the rain!) and the rest of the Holkham Estate to explore too.
Titchwell Manor itself hosts regular events and caters for weddings and private parties, so it’s always worth checking their website and our What’s On Guide for the lowdown on everything that’s going on!
If you’re looking for a place for some well-earned escapism, then Titchwell Manor is the perfect retreat. Every moment of our break away was special from start to finish and we couldn’t fault a thing – not even the weather, as the sun did come out in the end!
Good For: Romantic escapes, fine dining experiences, affordable luxury, getting back to nature, dogwalkers (you can bring your dog with you to the Eating Rooms too).
Not For: Night owls or city slickers – once you’re in, you’re in and there’s not much around apart from wildlife.
The Damage: Titchwell Manor rate their rooms from ‘Good’ to ‘Signature With Hot Tub’. A ‘Good’ room with dinner, bed and breakfast is in the range of £205 for a weekday evening or £130 for bed and breakfast (drinks not included). Seasonal offers are available via their website.
Top Tip: For dinner, ask for a seat in the conservatory, even when it’s dark; the garden is floodlit in the evenings. If you’re looking to book a room, always go straight to their website to make your reservation to ensure the best prices. Oh, and order the tarte tatin in advance. Even an anti-sharer like me must admit that it did look astonishingly good.
Titchwell Manor, Titchwell, Near Brancaster, Norfolk PE31 8BB – 01485 210221
Words: Hannah Colby