Where is it?
Smack in the middle of Bury St Edmunds' impressive Georgian square, and a 10-minute walk from the town's railway station. By car, it's two hours from London and an hour from Cambridge. Norwich and Colchester are close by. Address: 12 Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1UZ (tel: 01284 704088; fax: 01284 725549).
What's it like?
Warm and comfy inside, the structure jostles in a fine display of Georgian townhouses. Behind the facade, bits of the house date back to the 16th century, including the opulent oak-panelled red room that serves as a small bar. Other rooms, including the dining room and lounge, have rather grander proportions and there's also a peaceful courtyard garden. It's the perfect cosy cure for anyone feeling depressed at the prospect of winter.
Peaceful and relaxing. Resident owners Bernie and John Clarke are attentive hosts, happy to offer you a glass of Chardonnay after a hard day's wandering.
The six country-manor style bedrooms are all individually furnished and en suite; each is named after a different wine region (for a romantic weekend, book the Claret Suite with it's passion-inducing four poster bed and mammoth fireplace). Thoughtful touches, such as the Molton Brown freebies, all add to the sense of being pampered. Prices start from pounds 50 for a single room and pounds 80 for a double.
You can't eat dinner in the hotel but Bernie and John's breakfasts have won numerous awards, including the AA's Best Breakfast in London and East Anglia. Angels can tuck into the fruit salad and organic yoghurt; devils should wolf down the full English breakfast.
In 1999 the hotel was voted Small Hotel of the Year by the RAC. In 1998 it won the BTA Jewel of Britain award, in 1986 it was voted Which? County Hotel of the Year. It is also RAC Highly Acclaimed and AA gives it five diamonds, its top rating.
Bernie and John were keeping quiet on famous couples booking in for a weekend, but when I stayed the rooms were playing host to people on business, loved-up couples and a (small) television crew.
Things to Do?
Work off breakfast with a ramble to the award-winning abbey gardens and ruins, and the Athenaeum (assembly rooms where Dickens gave readings of his stories). In the evening, try fish restaurant Mortimer's (30 Churchgate Street), and the Nutshell, England's smallest pub (The Traverse), for sheer giggles.Reuse content