We have stayed at The Crown & Castle on three separate occasions in rooms across the tariffs- from the dog friendly garden rooms to prime rooms overlooking Orford Castle (dreamy and romantic) and have yet to be disappointed. The dog friendly rooms do not smell of dog either -something that concerned us when we had to be moved there one night. The hotel is friendly to them though, even providing a pre-bookable doggy table in the restaurant area.- something you need to consider if you detest canine company. Children are welcomed of any age in the restaurant at lunchtime and those over 8 years old in the hotel and at dinner time so please be aware of this as some guests have and do complain. Car parking can be an issue when the hotel is full as they state they are two places short and therefore some guests may have to park in the (very) nearby village.
The rooms are beautifully decorated and it is clear that the co-owner, Ruth Watson has taken full charge of how they look sourcing quirky and good quality furnishings and fittings. Every room has an individuality that pleases. As Ruth herself says “We are neither a country house hotel in the ruched-curtain, prohibitively expensive sense, nor a boutique hotel where cutting-edge design precludes hospitality – or functionality. Our aim is to offer a relaxing atmosphere with thoughtful, smiling service; interesting food with a British and authentic Italian bias; and simple but comfortable bedrooms with good beds. Orford itself does the rest.”
The stuffed cat on the chair in the entrance lobby amazed me with its placid nature, not paying a blind bit of notice to what went on. It took me two days to realise that this was because it was dead-sharp on the uptake I am. It is this kind of oddity (a lovely oddity) that endears this place to us.
Richly furnished, comfortable and warm to the degree that getting up to go anywhere or do anything became (a bit of a first world) problem, we played scrabble in the bar snug in front of the open fire and then went into the adjacent dining area to eat very well. Ruth Watson is a food writer (two Glenfiddich awards) and author of ‘The Really Helpful Cookbook’, ‘Fat Girl Slim’ and ‘Something for the Weekend’ so she is not going to serve mediocre ‘Maison de la Casa House’ style food. The menu is a riff off contemporary British with that twist of mainland European technique and influence that you so often see. Touches of other cultures could be seen- SE Asian or North African flavours but all the ingredients were local, seasonal and fresh. Chicken comes from Sutton Hoo chickens, the Butley Orford Oysterage supplies all manner of cured and fresh fish and juices from High House Fruits among many many other local suppliers.
Orford is a foodies paradise (we hate that term but it does fit) and every which way you turn you will be smacked in the (metaphorical) nose with good things to eat. The Bear Claws from the Pump Street Bakery are a good place to start! The local shops are independent and speciality from the famous Pump Street Bakery and Orford Pinneys cafe with attached Butley Orford Oysterage to the Suffolk Butcher. There are great pubs, the castle and Orford Ness to visit plus the entire Heritage Suffolk Coastline and the countryside villages to peruse.
Nothing about the Crown & Castle is overblown. The place is pitch perfect and if the accommodation prices are a bit on the higher side, they do offer frequent seasonal deals and it is worth keeping a close eye out for these. We highly recommend saving up for a special treat or coming here for lunch or dinner if a stay is out of the question. The team are so accommodating that if you tell them at time of booking that it is a special occasion, they’ll go that extra mile to make it special for you.