Autumn has arrived, with months of cosy knits, hot chocolates by the fire, long country walks and cosy pub dinners ahead.
To mark this seasonal change, Marie Claire’s Junior Beauty Writer Sarah Barnes checked into one of Norfolk’s best kept secrets, Fritton Lake. This family run and exclusive new private holiday retreat is set in the beautiful Somerleyton Estate, perched on the banks of a two mile long lake.
Bringing the idea of rewilding to the ‘wild East’, Fritton Lake would be my home for the next few days. In a bid to soak up the last of the Indian summer and to check what all the fuss was about, we rolled up the stony driveway ready to unplug and indulge in some much craved idyllic R&R.
Surrounded by unspoilt and sustainable wildland, you can check into either boutique hotel rooms or luxury farm cottages, all beautifully decorated and instantly relaxing.
For extra undisturbed bliss, members and their guests can rent luxury woodland cabins. These come complete with wood-burning stoves, frothy hot tubs and are all nested around the retreats grounds. These ultimate staycation houses have doorstep access to the freshwater lake so you will feel even further away from busy city life.
We stayed at the Fritton Arms. The main boutique hotel that houses country style rooms decked out with large white beds, wallowing bath tubs and bedside tea sets, so we could warm up with a cuppa each morning. Our peekaboo curtains opened up to views of rolling fields and dewy trees, pure escapism and not a concrete skyscraper in sight.
The question is… what not to do. Fritton Lake has natural outdoor activities in abundance, from getting lost in nature to wild swimming and lakeside sports.
Club facilities include; yoga sessions, croquet and trail running (if you’re feeling adventurous). Members can relax around the 22 metre heated pool all day from 10am until sunset, while the club also has four tennis courts, a pair of lawn courts, and two clay ones, allowing for year-round matches.
The retreat’s water-sport centre offers up; canoeing, sailing and even water skiing for the adrenaline seekers. However if you fancy something a bit more calming, go for an early morning paddle board. Watch the mist float off the lake in the sun or wrap up in a blanket with a take away coffee and take out a rowing boat to explore the leafy distant corners of the lake.
We spent a lazy afternoon lakeside during Autumn’s golden hour, cuddled up in fluffy white spa robes. Wild swimming is a must and the quintessential British saying of ‘It’s nice once you are in’ is very true here. We dived off the jetty and swam out to a perfectly placed pontoon where we enjoyed beautiful views of the clear water and the romantic willow trees that dip into the waters edge. The lake is special and gives you nostalgic free loving feelings of past summers, which are so easy to lose when engulfed in the daily grind back home.
You have everything you need for the ultimate cosy staycation wrapped up at Fritton Lake but if you feel like venturing outside the retreat, Somerleyton Hall is just a drive ten minute down winding country roads. One of the finest Victorian Stately homes in the country, Somerleyton Hall and Gardens is set in the 1000-acre wildland project, which allows grazing animals to lead the way in eco-restoration. Take a picnic lunch and get lost in the walled gardens, sprawling arboretum and hedged maze on a sunny afternoon.
The retreat’s Clubhouse is the heart of Fritton Arms for members and guests. This beautiful listed timber frame farmhouse hides snug dining spaces, four roaring fireplaces sounded by deep sofas, a games room and a south facing garden terrace. Making it the perfect spot for meals and unwinding after a long day exploring.
The continental breakfast is not your average bowl of cornflakes. Each morning we tucked into homemade spiced granola, drowned in fresh honey, fruits and yogurt. This was followed by slabs of crunchy toast with dripping butter and marmalade, washed down with strong mugs of tea and fresh juices.
We enjoyed lunch by one of the slowly stoked fires, sharing plates of baked chorizo with duck’s eggs, melted croque monsieurs and treacle bacon brioche rolls- The perfect refuelling menu.
While for dinner, hearty pub grub is served each night. I recommend the slow roasted lamb, line caught fish and chips with red tartar sauce or rich chicken mushroom stroganoff- all cooked using locally sourced produce.
A pub quiz takes place every Thursday evening and with the added cosy candles and sound of clinking glasses, you really do feel like you are in a remake of ‘The Holiday’.
Fritton Lake has it all, the warm country vibe, ‘fill your boots’ pub food and picturesque lakeside experiences. This might be the most blissful staycation you take this year….
Book Now– Don’t wait!
Lowest price cabins are 2 Bed Classics – off season is currently £647 and peak season £1734
Rooms for B&B at Fritton are currently £140 per night all season