Nestled somewhere among 5,000 acres of undulating woodland, lush meadows and perfectly manicured grounds (hello, Somerleyton Hall & Gardens ) sits Fritton Lake – the wild, stylish arm of Baron Somerleyton’s sprawling Norfolk/Suffolk estate. Now a private enclave for members, cabin owners and holiday guests hoping to unwind and recharge, this 1,000-acre fold of sustainable wildland centres around its two-mile-long lake and boasts a pioneering conservation project that promises to promote biodiversity. So far, so ‘eco stay’, right? Yet, Fritton Lake is serving its admirable green vision with spades of style, too. Think charming boutique interiors in the Fritton Arms Clubhouse, rustic regional fare, a luxurious floating sauna and outdoor heated pool, plus more nature-centric activities than your average ‘country-lite’ escape. The result? It’s fast becoming the desirable spot for stressed-out city dwellers to reboot and rewild.
Where to stay
Surrounded by unspoilt terrain, guests can choose to check into the luxurious Clubhouse or exclusively hire a farm cottage on the estate, all of which are beautifully decked out with modern design details (think Loaf sofas and Pooky lighting). For extra undisturbed bliss, you can also book one of the grounds’ luxury woodland cabins, many of which come complete with wood-burning stoves, winter-warming hot tubs and panoramic views of Fritton Lake’s most spectacular scenery.
If you like being the hub of things and don’t fancy self-catering, opt for the characterful Clubhouse – a sunny-bricked 16th-century manor house set in the heart of Fritton Lake, which offers up sumptuous suites, roaring fireside nooks, a games room and rustic restaurant, plus the shortest of strolls to some of venue’s main draws – namely the lake, floating sauna, and outdoor heated pool, which remains impressively toasty all year round.
What to do
Activities here revolve around long walks, alfresco swims, rejuvenating yoga classes and Zen-inducing spa treatments (be sure to book a heavenly full-body massage with Rose immediately). There’s also paddle boarding and boating on the lake, plus a fully equipped (aesthetically pleasing) gym, tennis courts and a regular running club if you’re hankering after a hit of cardio. But beyond the restorative exercise and unadulterated pampering lies Fritton Lake’s most authentic offering: conservation. And if you book only one thing while you’re here, make it the estate safari.
Led by passionate conservationist and landscaper, Matthew, the experience felt almost spiritual as we delved deeper into the rewilded terrain via a battered Austrian off-roader, wheel-spinning our way through the mud to spy everything from majestic stags and grazing muntjac to a frolicking family of wild black pigs. Indeed, animals native to the region thrive here among the carpets of clover and towering oaks, but the estate has also cleverly introduced a number of carefully selected species to help turn what was once arable land into an untamed nature reserve. As a result, highland cows were happily roaming the land with water buffalo on my visit, while inquisitive Exmoor ponies trotted over to the jeep for an unexpected rub on the nose.
“Every animal here is free to roam as they wish; to eat what they want, where they want, when they want,” Matthew explains, as we spot a heron emerge from thicket to glide across the velvet-smooth lake. “It’s all about returning this parcel of land back to nature and letting it flourish.”
In time, it’s hoped that beavers, pelicans, white storks and European bison and lynx will join the project, but even if this half-day experience only ever delivers deer, buzzards and a cantankerous bull (no nose rubbing required), you’ll still walk away feeling reenergised not only by the fresh air and Matthew’s infectious enthusiasm for conservation, but by the unfettered vision for a truly wild slice of Norfolk terrain.
Of course, if you feel like venturing outside the green swathes of Fritton Lake, its (big) sister property, the incredibly grand Somerleyton Hall, is just a ten-minute drive away. In summer, guests can visit this fine Victorian Stately home to eye up its gilded wares, walled gardens and sprawling arboretum, before losing themselves in the maze and enjoying a picnic in the perfectly curated gardens.
What to eat
Boasting snug dining spaces, four roaring fires encircled by deep, inviting sofas, plus a games room and south-facing garden terrace, Fritton Lake’s gloriously unpretentious yet achingly cool Clubhouse is the ideal spot for rustic, regional meals and a glass of something special.
Breakfast (don’t miss the overnight-soaked oats with peanut butter and berries), lunch (make space for the black bean burger) and dinner (hello, mushroom pie and estate casserole) are served here to hotel guests and members daily. And, because dishes are created in conjunction with the seasons and sourced locally, the menu is always jam-packed with healthy, hearty fare that oozes quality and a pride in provenance.
In short, if you’re looking for a Soho Farmhouse-style stay complete with honest food, authentic eco credentials, stunning scenery, and stylish interiors to boot, Fritton Lake should be top of your British-boltholes list right now.
How to book
Rooms in the Clubhouse cost from £160 per night on B&B basis; annual membership currently costs from £595 per year. Check frittonlake.co.uk for the latest information and availability.
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