Want rural tranquility and food sourced on the doorstep? Then The Bildeston Crown in Suffolk is for you
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If the rolling green fields and farms full of plump, healthy animals didn’t give it away, you’re not on a city break if you’re staying at The Bildeston Crown. The food-forward hotel takes pride of place at the centre of the quiet village of Bildeston near Ipswich, which is lined with multicoloured houses.
The roomsA room at The Bildeston Crown – Suffolk, U.K.
In what was far from my proudest moment, I casually assumed that the hotel’s rooms were each named after fafm animals, until I realised the sign that read ‘duck’ outside ours was a warning about the hallway’s low beams. The rooms themselves blend sleek modernity with the building’s cottage-like structure – twisting beams and occasionally creaking floorboards are combined with lots of space, a smart TV and an enormous, luxurious bathroom with a rain shower so big you couldn’t reach either side. Perfect for winding-down after all that strenuous eating and relaxing.
With local produce as good as Suffolk’s, chef Chris Lee’s food – served at the hotel’s airy restaurant from two à la carte menus, or via a tasting menu – doesn’t need to overcomplicate things. Sun-yellow yolk oozed from the first cut into a tangy haddock fishcake, and asparagus – as seasonal as it gets – was bursting with flavour, too. My main, a braised collar of Suffolk ham, drenched in warming mustard sauce and served with crispy croquettes, was another example of a light touch applied to a piece of local meat that sang with flavour.
Ideally, you’ll want a car to travel around this part of the world – train stations aren’t exactly in abundance. Make sure you check out Hollow Trees farm, a 15-minute drive away – say hello to happy goats, pigs, cows and chickens on the farm trail, and save time to browse the enormous farm shop, full-to-bursting with local Suffolk meats, cheeses, wines and more. Given where you are, you’d be remiss to overlook it.