Room service: A Norfolk icon that is easy to digest

The Victoria Inn, Holkham

When it comes to family emblems I defy anyone to beat an ostrich chewing a horseshoe. Back in the 16th century, Sir Edward Coke, founder of the dynasty that later took charge of this patch of North Norfolk, thought it would be a good wheeze to incorporate one on his coat of arms. In Elizabethan times, ostriches had a reputation for being able to digest anything, even metal, hence his motto: Prudens qui patiens etenim durissima coquit ("the prudent one is the patient one because he digests the hardest things").

These days a coat of arms is just a logo waiting to happen – and at Holkham you see the confused-looking bird everywhere: on signs pointing you to the beach, on the polo-shirt sported by your barman, on food labels, gift vouchers and leaflets. The historic seat of the Earls of Leicester, the Holkham Estate has taken Sir Edward's words to heart, patiently digesting the realities of the modern world. It now plays host to music events and weddings, there's a museum, a boating lake, cafés and a beach bar. And there's The Victoria Inn, which reopened this summer after a major refurbishment.

Patience has been required here, too. A previous attempt to establish the Victoria as a boutique hotel complete with Rajasthan-meets-Morocco interiors has now been cast aside, along with what was – according to general manager Ben Hunter-Watts – an attempt to be all things to all men. "For a lot of people, this is their only perception of the estate. They go to the beach and they go to the Victoria," he says. In the past, huge daytime summer barbecues clashed with a fine-dining ethos in the evening. Now, though, things are simpler: "The Victoria should be a traditional country inn at the heart of the estate. We want it to be something that locals come to."

Location

The inn sits close to the northern gates of the estate, on the A149, a 15-minute walk from the sweeping – if windy – expanse of Holkham beach. It's a slightly awkward bit of architecture constructed in 1837, the year young Victoria ascended the throne, and part of a local vernacular that's probably best described as "pebble-dash deluxe".

Close by lies a branch of Adnams Cellar & Kitchen Store (the Suffolk brewer has had a long association with the Victoria Inn). Here, manager Lee Newstead can talk – and taste – you through the various brews on offer, and will have you salivating about Adnams' Finest Cut Gin ("Hendrick's on steroids"). Lee is a local with fond memories of life at the Victoria: "Five of us on the bar, serving for six hours – the place is iconic."

Holkham Hall itself is an epic bit of Palladian design that sits in a landscape of deer park and wooded glade, punctuated by the odd obelisk. The walled gardens are particularly lovely, with crumbling glasshouses in the process of being restored. Combined tickets cost £12.

Comfort

Aside from the odd ornate rug, scarcely a trace of Rajasthan remains. Instead, the décor harks back to a time of country tweeds and hunting dogs. Antlers poke out above the fireplace; brocade curtains and sage-grey walls complement battered wooden tables. The Victorian taxidermery now on show may spook those who come to the Norfolk coast to exploit its twitching potential, but there's also bird-art by Frank Southgate to enjoy, plus those obligatory – ironic? – china ducks flying up the wall. Labelling the downstairs loos "cocks" and "hens" is, however, taking things too far.

Velvet-upholstered chairs and sofas are scattered around a sizeable bar done out in reclaimed wood and there's a cosy drawing room to which only guests have a key. The lunchtime food service seemed a little scattershot – we had to cajole slightly to get a table – but everything arrived as ordered, with only minimal additional waving required. The same simple but effective menu is also on offer in the evening, when we ate in the sunny orangery. My poached chicken salad with crayfish and avocado starter (£6.25) was pleasantly zingy and the estate sirloin with hand-cut chips was rich and satisfying (£19). The wine list doesn't muck around: seven reds, seven whites and two rosés, ranging from £17 to £37 a bottle.

And then, to bed. All 10 rooms, named after shooting stations on the estate, have been refurbished, with the new bathrooms – gleaming white tiles, drench showers – a particular treat. I'd arrived with children in tow, and "Joe's Stop" is the only family room, tucked away in the roof, with a sweet little box room for the boys and lots of exposed wooden beams and sturdy wooden furniture. The velvet armchair was an invitation to collapse and digest my steak for an hour or two, so I did just that. Patience is a virtue, after all.

Travel Essentials

The Victoria Inn, Park Road, Holkham, Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk NW23 1RG (01328 711008; holkham.co.uk/victoria)

Rooms ****

Value *****

Service ***

Doubles start at £100 including breakfast

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager - Bristol

    £31000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the UK, the major project fo...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Account Executive - Hotel Reservation Software - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly growing Hotel ...

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game