WHAT’S THE BUZZ? The Suffolk may just offer a smidgen of ‘good news’ to come out of the bleakness that was the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated lockdown. Hospitality guru George Pell, who had spent 15 years working in some of London’s most renowned members’ clubs and restaurants – including Soho’s iconic L’Escargot – suddenly found life had changed when the capital was hit by the effect of restrictions.
As things eased, the idea of continuing immediately at L’Escargot was fraught with difficulties and so George and team decamped virtually overnight to the wonderful historic and atmospheric building which now houses The Suffolk.
The original intention was to just host a pop-up restaurant but the venture was such a success – and the customers kept on coming – so George decided to go ‘all in’ and refurbish the building and open a hotel. As he told me: “Sometimes things just happen for a reason and now it feels like the most natural thing in the world to be here.”
And the result? A super cool hotel with superb staff, wonderful food and drink options and a vibe which emanates understated yet classy hospitality. Located in the heart of Aldeburgh, the wonderfully charming Suffolk town which stretches, ribbon-like, along the shingle coastline, The Suffolk is home to a 60-cover restaurant named Sur-Mer, rooftop terrace complete with sea views, wine bar, 12- and 24-seater private dining rooms and six elegantly appointed bedrooms.
WHAT ARE THE ROOMS LIKE? Ah, those bedrooms, a delightful half dozen of them. All have super king beds topped with Lansdowne Cashmere mattresses, and each takes inspiration from the surrounding area with names including Orford Ness, Iken, The Butley and Abraham’s Bosom.
Each room pays homage to the Suffolk landscape from a green and purple palette inspired by the colours of the Elephant Hawksmoor Moth found nearby, to the Schumacher’s tree river pattern design which mimics the bonsai-like trees, also seen in the county.
Bedroom furniture has been sourced directly from local antique dealers, which only adds to the charm. And a delightfully special touch is the shared pantry stocked with pre-mixed cocktails and nibbles, all included within the room rate.
BEST SEA VIEW? Although many of the bedrooms offer a glimpse of the beach – which is literally 30 paces from the hotel front door – for a proper view of the sea head to the upstairs terrace. A fantastic spot to sit, relax and watch the world go by while the ever-efficient staff tend to your every need, you could start with a morning coffee, idle over a spot of lunch, morph into dinner and still be cradling a sundowner and enjoying the fabulous views as the evening comes to an end.
HOW ABOUT THE FOOD? Suffolk-born Chef Tom Payne’s in-depth knowledge of the county’s produce is evident throughout the menu, which truly nods at every turn to the hotel’s access to the best in seafood, game and fresh produce. Feast on such delights as Butley Creek oysters; pigeon breast, chicory and walnut dressing; monkfish chop with curry sauce or halibut en croûte, lobster mousse and shellfish sauce.
The dining room itself at Sur-Mer is fabulous too – an historic room truly brought back to life with tasteful, empathetic design. If you’re not lucky enough to stay at The Suffolk, as I was, then make a beeline there anyway for the dining experience.
WHAT WILL IT COST? Midweek rate starts from £168 per room for two guests; standard rate starts from £240.
HOW DO I BOOK? Visit the-suffolk.co.uk or call 07831 601411.