Words by Caroline Wheater
WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
A newcomer to the North Norfolk holiday scene, The Harper is a contemporary boutique hotel and spa in the quiet village of Langham, a few minutes’ drive from Morston and Stiffkey on the coast, and close to Blakeney Point Nature Reserve, famous for its harbour and grey seals. The atmospheric brick-and-flint barns formerly housed Langham Glass (now based in Fakenham), a part of the hotel’s history that’s celebrated in colourful stained glass windows by local artist Julie Kirkham. Already veterans of the wedding venue business and with Norwich heritage, the Cutmore-Scott family opened The Harper, their first ever luxury hotel, in spring 2021, kitting out the old glassworks with oak floors, eclectic furniture and original art.
In a location that can become very busy during peak holiday season the spacious, ‘residents-only’ hotel is an oasis of calm run by friendly efficient staff. The Yard, the central courtyard, is the centrepiece where there are deckchairs to flop in, long tables for gathering with friends, and a flickering fire-pit (where grilled nibbles are served up at 6pm in summertime). Indoors there are plenty of options too – first-floor Ivy’s sitting room with sofas, coffee tables and two elephant folio art and photography books to browse; Stanley’s dining room next door, and downstairs a grown-up playroom, the Den, equipped with snooker table and darts board. The onus is on relaxation, so this is not a late-night hotel, however. Out and about in the locale, guests head inland to the market town of Holt for shopping and slap-up fish and chips at Eric’s, or to the unspoilt coastline where fishing villages Blakeney and Cley-next-the-Sea are spliced with salt marshes and the wildest
of beaches where all you can hear are waves, wind and the soft peeping of birds.
WHAT ARE THE ROOMS LIKE?
The Harper has 32 rooms ranged around The Yard, all finished to a high standard and ranging from ‘big’ (280sq ft) to ‘bigger’ (over 300sq ft) to ‘biggest’ (400sq ft). Large windows allow in lots of light and the vibe is ultra-comfy – king-size or super-king four-posters, Casper mattresses, limestone tiles in the bathroom, monsoon and rainforest showers, Irene Forte toiletries, and funky furnishings including oversized lamps and leather easy chairs for watching telly. We stayed in one of the ‘biggest’ rooms, overlooking The Yard, and loved the little extras such as packets of Heather’s Kettle Corn, the Nespresso coffee maker and a basket filled with flip-flops, beach ball and bucket and spade. A new family room, suite 309, offers two bedrooms, a sitting area and a huge bathroom for couples with kids. Dogs are welcome in all rooms.
HOW ABOUT THE SPA?
The spa is to one corner of The Yard and residents wander over in towelling robes and flip-flops provided by the hotel. There’s a small swimming pool to splash around in, plus a steam room, sauna and jacuzzi to deepen the feeling of relaxation. Individual sessions are booked by the half hour (you may get a full hour if there’s no demand) which means you’ve got it all to yourself. Facials (from £45), massages (from £70) and other beauty treatments are also available to book in the two upstairs therapy rooms, one of which is equipped for couples’ massages. Pure bliss.
BEST VIEWS? The hotel is set in countryside and more than a hop from the sea, but rooms looking out onto The Yard face west, so you can see the sun go down over the characterful buildings and the trees beyond.
HOW ABOUT THE FOOD? At The Harper, food and drinks can be ordered all day and served pretty much anywhere in the hotel, from The Yard to Ivy’s sitting room and Stanley’s dining room (both named after Cutmore-Scott grandparents). The locally sourced food is informal and comfort-driven – sautéed prawns, fried chicken, Maldon rock oysters and homemade ice cream feature on the ‘All Day, anywhere’ menu. For a treat, book dinner at Stanley’s for dishes cooked up by head chef Greg Baker. After sipping a Mojito as an aperitif we tucked into a starter of wood-fired flatbread with pea hummus (£7), followed by Cromer crab linguine (£30) and pan-roasted duck breast with beetroot (£36), and somehow found a tiny bit of space for The Harper cheeseboard (£16). We went the whole hog and washed it down with a delicious bottle of The Velvet Devil merlot (£36) and two glasses of Petit Guiraud Sauternes dessert wine (£8). Breakfast was a simpler but similarly relaxed affair, offering granola and yoghurt, smoothies and smashed avocado on toast, as well as the Harper Full English and Full Veggie.
ECO CREDENTIALS? Low-energy LED lighting is fitted throughout the hotel and only biofuel, wood and electricity are used to power the hotel, with underfloor heating and hot water created using biofuel pellets. In the car park there are PodPoint electric vehicle chargers, and Tesla rapid chargers. And the swimming pool works on a heat exchange air circulation system. The 50- strong team of staff are all local, so mileage is kept to a minimum.
HOW ACCESSIBLE IS IT?
There are two disabled access rooms on the ground floor, both with wet rooms, and reached via a special pathway and door from the main parking area. There’s a lift up to the first-floor dining and sitting area.
WHAT WILL IT COST? One night’s room B&B for two starts at £225 per night. Dogs cost an extra £25. All rooms are dog-friendly – only Stanley’s restaurant is off limits.
HOW DO I BOOK? Call 01328 805000 or visit theharper.co.uk.