Great British Boltholes: Brudenell Hotel, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Ready for a spring break? Then sneak away to this cultured town on the Suffolk coast

Ready for a spring break? Then sneak away to this cultured town on the Suffolk coast

Why go? For sea air, good walking and great fish and chips. 25 miles northeast of Ipswich, Aldeburgh is spread beside a long shingle beach bordering the grim, grey North Sea – yet somehow everyone loves it. At its southern end, the four-star Brudenell Hotel has a classic seaside charm enhanced by fine food and warm, contemporary rooms.

Best for: Music-lovers – Aldeburgh was the home of composer Benjamin Britten and has a rich cultural life that includes the Aldeburgh Festival (10-26 June, aldeburgh.co.uk). Foodies are also in for a treat – you’ll find several black sheds on the beach selling smoked fish, some good delis in town, plus there’s a Farmers’ Market on the first Saturday of the month at nearby Snape Maltings. Meanwhile, the country lanes are full of honesty boxes selling fresh eggs, homegrown fruit and veg, and garden plants.

Sea and be seen: the terrace at the Brudenell Hotel

The look: Right by the beach with a large terrace, the Brudenell Hotel opened its doors in 1868 and has gradually expanded to today’s 44 rooms spread over four floors. It was given a modern makeover in 2006, which is now a bit dated, but the mood is cheery with maritime-themed wallpaper and photographs of local attractions. The rooms are well-designed (hurrah, the dressing table mirror comes with a nearby socket for the hairdryer!) with tea/coffee facilities provided and, in the superior and deluxe categories, bathrobes. While everyone wants a sea view, the less pricey rooms at the back on the third floor look onto the arguably just as attractive marshes inland.

Sweet and simple: a superior seaview bedroom at the Brudenell Hotel

I’m hungry… They like their fish and chips here so expect to queue at a shrine like the Aldeburgh Fish and Chips Shop (aldeburghfishandchips.co.uk). The Seafood & Grill restaurant at the Brudenell Hotel knows what it’s doing with lots of tempting fish and seafood dishes, including Suffolk oysters (£3 each) and bream fillet with crab crushed potatoes (£18.50). Fish is also the strong point of the hotel’s ‘Suffolk Breakfast’ menu which offers both kippers and smoked haddock from nearby Pinney’s of Orford. In town, you’ll need to book ahead for the ever-popular The Lighthouse (lighthouserestaurant.co.uk) while Brasserie Bleue at the White Lion Hotel (whitelion.co.uk) serves French dishes such as coq au vin and beef bourgignon – a good option for Sunday night when many other places are closed.

Nice catch: don’t leave Aldeburgh without buying some fish © imagepalace.co.uk

While you’re there… Walk along the beach to admire Maggi Hambling’s marvellous stainless steel ‘Scallop’ sculpture. In the streets behind, the Aldeburgh Bookshop (aldeburghbookshop.co.uk) is a reminder of how wonderful independent bookshops can be, with plenty of works by Suffolk authors plus guides and maps to local walks. Pubs that deserve a stop and some Adnams beer include the White Hart Inn (whitehartaldeburgh.co.uk) and Ye Olde Cross Keys in Crabbe Street, and it’s worth seeing what’s on at the sweet art deco Aldeburgh Cinema (aldeburghcinema.co.uk). Shops range from Jack Wills and Quba to the design-led Burnett & Co (46 High St), plus there’s plenty of charity shops, antiques showrooms, ice cream parlours and tea rooms to keep you busy if the weather’s not co-operating.

In the frame: the Moot Hall, now Aldeburgh Museum © imagepalace.co.uk

Further afield, you can follow the six-mile Sailors’ Path inland to Snape Maltings (snapemaltings.co.uk), which is a chi-chi mini-village incorporating a concert hall, cafe, bakery and shops selling crafts, vintage, interiors, kids and gift items. To the north, Thorpeness is a bizarre, purpose-built half-timbered seaside village with a boating lake and golf club – the Dolphin Inn (thorpenessdolphin.com) does a hearty roast Sunday lunch with crumble for £14.95. For a good round-trip walk, try the one from Eastbridge to Dunwich Beach where there’s a National Trust tea room, and for horseriding head to Poplar Park in Hollesley (poplarpark.co.uk).

Hard shell: the ‘Scallop’ on Aldeburgh beach

Dress code: Guests dining in the hotel make an effort; outside, be prepared for a chill wind blowing in from the sea…

Book now: Brudenell Hotel, The Parade, Aldeburgh IP15 5BU (01728 452071; brudenellhotel.co.uk). Double rooms cost from £165 with breakfast. Wifi and parking is free. A taxi from Saxmundham rail station takes 15 minutes and costs around £10.

Info: Contact Aldeburgh Tourist Information Centre (01728 453637). Norfolk & Suffolk (12.99; Rough Guides) covers the area (a new edition is out in May), useful websites include aldeburghsuffolk.com, suffolkcoastandheaths.org, thesuffolkcoast.co.uk and visit-aldeburgh.co.uk.

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