Tucked off the high street of the market town of Swaffham in Norfolk, the family-run Strattons hotel is a beautiful Queen Anne Palladian villa. Whether you're in the mood for kitsch and contemporary or antiques and fabric-festooned decadence, each room is individually decorated with a unique theatrical flair. Not just a pretty face, the hotel has won awards for its restaurant and eco-policies; it's a child-friendly hotel, too.
Double rooms from £99.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include breakfast. Minimum two-night stay at weekends.
Minimum two-night stay at weekends.
At the hotel
Gift shop, deli, free WiFi in some areas. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, radio and honesty bar.
Our favourite rooms
The Linen is an open-plan bedroom and bathroom with a fabulous decked balcony. The Red Room is super-spacious and even has its own private garden. The Venetian, for its incredible walnut king-size bed. The small but funky Seagull Room. Fantouche has a tiny balcony. The Opium Suite is a split-level home of your own. Boudoir is a zhuzhed-up attic room with sexy Michelangelo-esque fresco-style features.
Cool-box, so you can take some of the local produce home with you; slippers for the stone floor in the Opium Suite; outdoor gear for exploring the gorgeous countryside.
Bam&Arrow is the adorable interiors and gift shop on-site selling hand-made jewellery, tableware, candles and furniture.
Very welcome. Highchairs and various other kit available. Baby cots, sofa beds (and extra beds for under-12s) are from £10–45 a child, each night.
This hotel has super-green credentials: toiletries are in refillable pump dispensers; low-energy bulbs constitute 70 per cent of the lighting; rooms have Carbon Trust thermostats; toilets use 20 per cent less water and its garden is wildlife friendly.
Perhaps go for a corner table, the banquette at the back, or in summer, a window table.
Eco boho luxe or hip in hemp.
Afterfive, the hotel's restaurant, is celebrated for its organic and local ingredients such as tasty cheeses and free-range meats. Expect hearty fare like sweet potato croquettes, monkfish curry and slow-roasted leg of lamb. Enjoy one of the inventive dinners daily from 5pm. Hearty breakfasts are served weekdays 7.30am–10am and weekends 8.30am–10am. The afternoon teas are becoming legendary thanks to home-baked delights such as poppy-seed cheesecake, moist chocolate fruit cake and lavender shortbread. Lunch is served daily in Strattons’ eco-friendly deli, CoCoes, right next door.
There isn’t one as such but there is an intimate sitting room in which to enjoy a tipple of your choice – why not try an ale from one of Norfolk’s micro breweries?
Food: 8.30pm. Drinks: normal licensing hours.
They can rustle you up supper from the restaurant; there’s an honesty bar in every room for late-night drinks. Carrot cake at teatime makes a nice complement to the in-room tea/coffee facilities.
London Stansted is the closest airport – getting from here to the hotel will take an hour and a half.
The station in King's Lynn is half an hour from the hotel. Trains go from here to London in just under two hours.
From London, you'll need the M25, M11 and A14 to get you out into Norfolk. From Norwich, you'll need the A47.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s an antiques market and auction in Swaffham on Saturdays. Itteringham is a picturesque village worth visiting; take a stroll to the church and the water mill and stop for lunch at the Walpole Arms. Hire a boat on the Norfolk broads from George Smith & Sons, Try go karting at North Pickenham, and horse riding at Bridlewood Livery & Riding Centre, Downham Market. Take the car of your dreams for a spin on the Snetterton Racetrack. The hotel is half an hour from the coast.
If you want to head to the coast, The Crown Hotel in the Buttlands, Wells-next-the-Sea is good for supper. The Walpole Arms in Itteringham is an excellent gastropub for Sunday lunch washed down with locally brewed ales. The Crown Inn, on East Rudham’s village green, is an outpost of Kiwi TV chef Chris Coubrough’s mini-empire of excellent Norfolk gastropubs. We love The Hare Arms at Stow Bardolph for its food (and if you’re en famille you can get mini portions) and also for the exotic chickens and peacocks roaming around the garden. The Albert Victor at Castle Acre has a decent outdoor area and it’s good for a pint as well as a traditional meal, with some respectable vegetarian options.
We’re going to Strattons Hotel in Norfolk for our weekend away,’ trills my beloved, teasing a cascading curl. ‘It’s an eco-hotel,’ she adds chirpily. There is an awkward silence. ‘What?’ I bellow, tearing another leg of pork from my suckling pig – I always have suckling pig by the bed – ‘Do I look like a Prius-driving, recycling, hessian wearer? In a word: certainlynot.’ Obviously this isn’t exactly the scene; in fact, we have a Prius. And we compost. But I confess to some trepidation on hearing ‘eco-hotel’. Scratchy towels? Toilets flushed by buckets? Vegetarian broths? Family-run Strattons couldn’t be further from my presumptions.
Set like a precious stone in the market town of Swaffham, Strattons is an eccentric hideaway guaranteed to confound such lazy preconceptions. Trundling down the tiny close off an unremarkable high street into the hotel courtyard, a vista of Narnian proportions greets us. A striking Palladian villa lit like a Gothic church and set off brilliantly by a circular courtyard of pleached hornbeam trees, Strattons takes my breath away. Although that might have been wrestling my wife’s ridiculously large case out of the car.
Initial fears of having to stifle any luxury-desiring sensibilities are immediately assuaged. This eco-friendly escape is less Norfolk, more Southfork, thanks to an opulent carved sign, a proliferation of original artwork and some seriously extravagant chandeliers. I brace myself at the reception for a tongue-lashing about the egregious carbon emissions a journey from London may have belched; instead we’re met by staff who are the personification of breezy helpfulness. But will the room be sumptuous enough for these would-be sybarites?
I say ‘room’, but garish, erotic artworks, huge driftwood-hewn furniture and a glass-bricked bathroom/wet room make it feel more ‘Picasso’s holiday cottage’. There are two widescreen TVs and DVD players and a deep antique bath, perfect for a sexy soak or a movie-watching marathon. There’s even a tiny patio; sadly it’s four degrees outside. (Where’s global warming when you need it?) By the bed are two units comprising approximately 20 tiny drawers each. Sock festishists travelling with their full collections will find this room a gift.
This so-called eco-hotel may be greener than a pensioner on a roller coaster, but apart from the locally produced chemical-free refillable soap dispensed in the bathroom, it gives very few clues to its environmental persuasion. I take this subtlety to be a good thing. It’s only as we sit down to dinner in the Rustic that Strattons nails its green colours to the mast. In this intimate low-ceilinged candlellit restaurant, we glean from the Modern British menu that just about everything (from the milk and butter to the herbs and meats) is locally sourced from trusted quality farms. All of the fruit and veg are even grown right here in Strattons’ soil.
Pigeon pastrami proves earthy and stargazey pie with rabbit and crayfish under pastry is delicious. My personal fave? The shepherd’s pie (yes, these Smiths like pie): slices of crisp potato atop a cauldron of melt-in-the-mouth steak and gravy. The wine list is perfectly proportioned, but what impresses me are the organic and evocatively named local beers and ciders, such as Swaffham Gold and Fine Soft Day from Norfolk’s Iceni Brewery. By the time we polish off a chocolate cheesecake – ‘Two spoons please, the elastic in my trousers does have a limit’ – both my heavily expectant wife and I are a similar shape. Eschewing a late-night walk due to a combination of heavy fog and inertia, we decamp to our boudoir for an extravagant soak and an early night.
If your question is ‘How happy can egg and toast make a man?’ then my answer is ‘elated’. For breakfast I order them boiled with Marmitey soldiers. A simple meal, but honestly the most enjoyable I’ve had all year. If happy hens lay tasty eggs, the ones clucking about in the garden here must be Buddhists that have attained nirvana.
Another trencherman sitting later, and we plump for a walk/waddle. We borrow one of the hotel’s laminated walking guides: lovely idea but after 20 minutes we abandon the map, and freestyle it. Bric-a-brac from the slightly bonkers Saturday market picked over and it’s time for elevenses at Strattons’ deli and café, CoCoes. (Well, it has been two hours since our last meal.) Shelves here groan under the weight of pornographically calorific confections, so I order a piece of blueberry cake. ‘What I love about Strattons is how it wears its green principles lightly,’ I say to Mrs Smith. She smiles as I take another mouthful. ‘You, on the other hand, will be leaving wearing its other values somewhat heavily.’
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Strattons’s Guestbook below.
The secluded location was a treat – it felt like a countryside getaway even though it is in the centre of town. The staff were really friendly yet professional and were genuinely keen to make our stay as comfortable as possible. The hotel's gardens and decor were traditional with a twist, which we loved. The food was stunning – we will remember the lamb in particular for a long time and they have a great selection of wines too.
A high tech hair dryer or iron, or a hard mattress. I'd take my own dryer next time and iron clothes beforehand so they just need a quick once over, as the dryer and iron were really basic. We stayed in the Venetian which was a stunning room – the only downside was the super soft mattress which I couldn't safely have the baby on, and I had to try not to role into my husband too often!
Stayed on 27 Sep 2019
A lovely hotel – friendly staff and a wonderful breakfast.
Stayed on 12 Sep 2019
Everything at Strattons. Our two-night stay involved a change of rooms, both so different, both fabulous. The first night was so enjoyable in the eaves of the hotel, the second night was totally different but equally enchanting. Both beds were heavenly. This is such a captivating little hotel, with super friendly staff. We also loved our meals at Strattons, beautiful fresh produce expertly prepared.
Stayed on 31 Jul 2019
Everything was amazing: the staff, food, room, bed and location. I can't think of a better hotel for a romantic and unusual adventure. The staff was truly lovely and the hotel so interesting. We loved every moment.
To have a bad time – we were very, very comfortable.
Stayed on 14 Jul 2019
The setting of the hotel is absolutely beautiful, a complete oasis in the heart of Swaffham. The welcome from the Strattons' team was so lovely and welcoming, both before we arrived as we made our plans and when we checked in. Our room was beautiful; so comfortable, romantic and beautifully designed. We had dinner in the restaurant on the first night which was outstanding. The food, presentation and service was superb. The breakfasts in CoCoes each morning was gorgeous - lovely menu, excellent food and beautifully presented by lovely staff.
Stayed on 24 May 2019
The Red room is more like a sumptuously decorated stately suite. Breakfast and dinner are beautifully cooked with local produce. The beaches of Wells on Sea and the beauty of the Broads are a short drive away.
Stayed on 19 Apr 2019
Loved the location and the restaurant and deli were both excellent. High level of service in all areas - staff very friendly and helpful.
Stayed on 25 Feb 2019
We loved the hotel building and the staff. The bathroom could do with a shaving mirror and a better light. Also the bedside lights were too dim for reading. Also unfortunately one day the housekeeping staff put a folding table (which we had taken from the wardrobe and erected in the bedroom) back in the wardrobe and lent it against our clothes that were hanging there. This was very annoying.
We didn't expect not to have any hot water in the bathroom one evening after another guest left his shower on all night to de-crease his clothes and the tank was drained.
Stayed on 3 Jun 2018
We loved the two resident cats, Burt and Mr B! We loved the breakfast from Cocoes cafe – it was exceptional – and the restaurant served good wholesome food. We loved the staff, who were very attentive and welcoming. The Saturday antiques market is worth a gander.
Don't expect luxury: the bathroom was freezing cold, had no double glazed windows and no bathroom extras like shower cap or shoeshine kit, etc.
Stayed on 16 Mar 2018
The unique decor and super attentive team – a million times. We were staying in the annex and there was a minor, unforeseeable plumbing issue; hotel team bent over backwards to make sure we were comfortably relocated in the main property. The cats, baths, beds and green credentials. The in-house café takes the edge off. You might enjoy going up the wind turbine. The weekend market and nearby Oxborough Hall are grand though.