North Norfolk = not just for Partridge
North Norfolk is not only famous for being the birthplace of Alan Partridge and as the country retreat and former home of William, Kate and family, it is rapidly overtaking the Cotswolds as the minibreak du jour for London’s cool crowd. With unrivalled coastal walks, a burgeoning foodie scene and some of the best design-led hotspots to lay your head down, here’s how to spend 24 hours on a north Norfolk minibreak…
Why go to north Norfolk?
The north Norfolk coast has a different beach to suit every taste. Head to Cromer for traditional British seaside charm – think bunting, retro amusement arcades and the actual pier where Alan Partridge was shot in the film Alpha Papa. No joke. For something a little more refined, the pebbled beaches, fresh fish stalls and miniature railway make Sheringham the perfect pit-stop. And just a stone’s throw along the seafront, Wells-next-the-sea is a windsurfer’s paradise with candy-coloured beach huts lining the sandy beach. And that’s before you even head in-land.
Where to stay in north Norfolk
Just five miles from the picturesque north Norfolk coast, Barsham Barns is a collection of six bespoke, 4 and 5-star country cottages tastefully converted from original barns and farm outbuildings. Surrounded by acres upon acres of farmland, you won’t see another passer-by for miles, especially if you decide to hire out the entire site (umm, hello country wedding venue!) as the barns collectively sleep 52 in total.
We stayed in the two-bedroomed Loose Box, all modern, minimal open-plan living space – perfect for families, a romantic getaway or a group of girlfriends – with colour-popping interior touches. Think Instagrammable coffee table tiles and bright, Orla-Kiely scatter cushions. The focal point is undoubtedly the vast floor to ceiling picture window overlooking a completely private courtyard complete with terrace, barbecue and al fresco dining table. The walnut cake added a more traditional welcome to the perfect spot for hunkering down come winter or throwing the doors wide open in summer.
Barsham Barns offers The Loose Box from £455 for a minimum 3 night stay, based on 4 sharing in two double rooms.
A non-cringe hen weekend, family break or weekend with a mixed group of friends. The laid-back cottage vibe means literally everyone is welcome, including babies and dogs if you so desire. With an adjoining spa pool and steam room, plus a games room (bring on the table tennis wars), there’s plenty to keep you happy on-site but it’s also the perfect base for a seaside holiday, chic romantic getaway or a wedding in the area.
Also, foodies rejoice. The Norfolk Food and Drink Festival is something of a destination event, celebrating the buzzing food and drinks scene in north Norfolk, with stalls, masterclasses and tasting sessions. For Michelin-starred fine dining, head to Morston Hall and for a sweet treat, don’t leave Norfolk without swinging by Macarons and More – the delightfully colourful brainchild of Masterchef finalist, Tim Kinnaird.
Places to visit in north Norfolk
Holkham Hall, just a stone’s throw from the golden sands of Holkham Beach, is the ancestral home of the Earl of Leicester and his family. It is well worth swinging by for a wander around the estate’s nature reserve (open Monday, Thursday and Sunday 12-14pm) before lunch at the nearby Victoria Inn. All locally-sourced, the seasonal menus include shellfish from the north Norfolk coast, beef from the farm on the estate, venison from the family’s game reserve and fresh fruit from a nearby orchard. It is literally the taste of Norfolk and you won’t regret ordering the venison sausages and champ mash after a long walk along the craggy coast.
For bragging rights when it comes to smug Insta check-ins, drop in to the Crown Inn for local ales and a seasonal gastro menu. The pub-with-rooms is where William and Kate were spotted on a cosy date night in 2016 and frankly, if it’s good enough for them…
For treasure hunters, there’s the centuries-old, family-run James Beck Auctions that take place alongside a gigantic flea market in an old cattle market every Thursday. It’s a trove of art, homewares and fine jewellery from household clearances and a must for magpies. Elsewhere, if you and your squad are feeling like a bunch of big kids (or indeed if you have actual kids in tow), the Dinosaur Adventure Park is as close as you’ll get to a real life Jurassic Park, complete with a 30ft T-Rex. Pack a picnic and get lost in the woods, then take each other on in a game of crazy golf or welly-wanging before launching yourself down the 120m long zip wire.