When looking for short breaks away the UK is often forgotten in our heads. But with temperatures across most of Europe dropping during the winter months maybe it’s time for more discerning gents to give good old blighty a chance as a getaway destination. A chance is exactly what Elysium had to discover the Suffolk Coast, and for all our initial reservations we’d like to put our discerning hands up and say that expectations were exceeded by some distance. We’ll tell you why…
The Suffolk Coast is an easy 90mins drive from Central London. On our itinerary for this visit are the coastal towns of Aldeburgh and Southwold, located to the east and north east of Ipswich. The Suffolk County is famed for its agricultural produce – namely great tasting meat, and plenty of it. So for those of you keen to get well acquainted with the culinary offerings here you’re well advised to head to this corner of the UK.
Whilst being within easy reach of London, it’s also well connected to other parts of England too so general accessibly isn’t a problem at all. The drive itself is a great leisurely drive through long stretches of country lanes so those discerning gents with a penchant for a good drive will enjoy the experience. The added advantage of driving for a break of this sort is that it gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. However those not driving aren’t at any disadvantage as the town has ample train, bus and taxi options available.
Where To Stay
For this trip we were staying at the Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh. It’s a picturesque four star establishment located right on the seafront of Aldeburgh’s shingle beach. We’d recommend you bag one of the sea view rooms here as the view of the sun as it rises off the horizon each morning is a breathtaking sight. The views of the beach are pretty impressive too – miles of shingle shoreline just keep on going. As for the room itself – it’s a modern looking room that has a nautical touch. There’s ample room for a comfortable lounge area whilst the bathroom follows the same spacious theme. The king size bed is very restful – you’d look forward to a night’s sleep in this bed after a long day of seaside adventures.
As touched on earlier, Suffolk is blessed with some of the finest tasting meat the UK produces so dining at the Brudenell restaurant is superb. If that wasn’t good enough, the close proximity to the fishing ports mean the Brudenell has a delicious range of seafood options to tantalise the taste buds. During our stay at the Brudenell Hotel it’s fair to say that dinner was eagerly anticipated. Prices are very reasonable too – with main options from £10-£23 and expertly prepared by Head Chef James Barber and his team. The wine list also offers plenty of options for the discerning drinker, whilst the knowledgeable waiting staff offer friendly advice if you’re caught between choices.
We’d recommend everything on the dinner menu but if pushed for a couple of stand out options – the pork belly and crab dishes get our vote. Ask to be seated at a window table if possible to take advantage of the gorgeous views of the sea at dusk – a very romantic scene for you and the lady to enjoy.
If you weren’t spoilt enough at dinner, after a restful night of slumber and waking up to the sound of the waves gently rolling onto the shore, you’re in for a further delight at breakfast too. Whilst the traditional fruit, cereal and pastry options are provided (£9.95 per person), treat yourselves to a traditional cooked breakfast (£13.95) – you’ll be glad you did! The Suffolk Breakfast is the one for you if you’re looking for something to set you up for the day. Featuring Proctors Sausage, Suffolk Bacon, mushrooms and eggs whichever way you like them, this will keep you going through any adventure you choose to partake in during the day.
What To Do
In a county such as Suffolk, whilst you’re travelling through you’ll soon be familiar with the large open fields that are used for farming all that delicious meat. The other use for those green fields is for a past time many a discerning gent has succumbed to over the years – golf. Suffolk is home to some great courses and one of the finest is the fields of Thorpeness Golf Club. The picturesque golf course set amongst the Suffolk coastal heathland offers a tough challenge for all levels of player. Those not familiar with the game but willing to try can arrange some expert tuition from the resident professionals – something highly recommended if you’ve ever been tempted to swing an iron but never had the chance before. It’s also something that your lady can get involved in too – just ensure she doesn’t beat you on the green!
If you’d rather learn more about the history behind Suffolk– perhaps the Adnams Distillery tour is more to your taste and disposition. You’ll soon notice Adnams, in one shape or another, feature prominently in the Suffolk way of life – especially the food. What could be better than learning about the company that is so central to the livelihood of this region. Based in Southwold, the distillery itself is pretty much the size of a small village and provides great insight into how the Adnam family had a great idea with its spirits. Some of these have already awarded international acclaim even though spirits is a relatively new addition compared to the well established brewery arm. Of course, the great thing about a distillery tour is the tasting session at the end, and this one does not disappoint. Ready yourself for a number of gins, liquors and other alcoholic beverages that showcase the know-how at Adnams.
For those seeking something more active, or to burn off the indulgence from breakfast or dinner, there are a number of coastal walks to challenge you but also allow you to discover neighbouring villages. Many have great pubs too, providing a great stop off to quench your thirst and enjoy a leisurely bite before heading back.
We’ve already touched on how good Suffolk is for any foodies, but any visit to the British seaside isn’t complete unless you enjoy some tradition fish and chips. Aldeburgh beach is blessed with a number of shops serving up the freshest catch of the day. Be warned to expect queues though during lunchtime and evenings as visitors and locals alike wait patiently for their turn to the crispiest of batters made with…you guessed it Adnams beer!
One other point to mention, especially if you’re planning on visiting Suffolk during late September is to check out the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival. This year it’ll be taking place on the weekend of 28-29th September at Snape Maltings, with further fringe events in October throughout East Suffolk. It’s a showcase of the best food and drink from the region with many celebrity chefs in attendance too. It’s a given that there will be plenty of great food to gorge yourselves on here.
The Suffolk Riviera as we like to call it will open your eyes to the beauty that still lies within the shores of the UK. Miles of charming coastline coupled with impressive dining options that cater to a multitude of tastes means this can rival many a foreign land. The ambience of the area out of peak season is very calming so if you’re looking for a spot to getaway from the hustle of the big city then this place has to be amongst your options – it’s perfect for some down time.
It doesn’t just have to be about down time though – if you’re aim is for an active holiday then you have a list of walks that will put you through your paces at the same time as witnessing the beauty of inland and coastal areas. The area has all options covered, but the standout quality of the food is a must for any food enthusiast. Accessibility means little planning is needed, it’s ideal for a long weekend but has plenty to keep you occupied if you plan on a longer stay too. Perhaps the only thing against the area, as with anything in the UK, is that you can’t rely on the weather. It’s great outside in the sun, but if the rain is to fall you know there is a superb eatery nearby to ease the disappointment.
For more information about Suffolk, visit: www.thesuffolkcoast.co.uk
The Brudenell Hotel
Tel: 01728 452071
Prices start at £80 per night based on a double or twin room (includes full English breakfast and VAT)
Thorpeness Hotel & Golf Club
Tel. 01728 454926
Adnams Distillery Tour
Adnams Head Office
The distillery tour costs £10 per person – various start times available