Where is it?
Two minutes' walk from the centre of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
What's it like?
A very upmarket bed and breakfast with a relaxing atmosphere. It has the appearance of a Georgian country house but is situated in the middle of town. The building dates from 1713, and over the past three years the owners have been busy restoring it to period glory with stylish yet unfussy fittings, most recently adding a sitting room. Light streams into the rooms and there are lots of nice touches, such as the abundance of fresh flowers and decanters of Madeira in the rooms.
What's its USP?
More personal than going to a hotel – like being invited to a house party. It has recently been given English Tourism's five-diamond rating.
Unobtrusive but welcoming. The owner is always on hand to give a quick guided tour of the house and reviews of local restaurants.
Decorated in an uncluttered Georgian style with period fireplaces, wood panelling and wooden shutters, each room has books by historical novelist Norah Lofts, the previous occupant of the house and for whom the place provided inspiration. The spacious bathrooms have wonderfully comfortable central baths. Prices from £55 per night for a single room and £90 for a double.
Breakfast is made from local, organic produce and is served at a communal round table. Conversation is bound to turn to the two magnificent London plane trees in the walled garden outside the window. These, like the house, are almost 300 years old and are the tallest trees in the area. All other meals are by arrangement only, but Bury has plenty of decent restaurants.
An eclectic mix of ages and backgrounds which, when we stayed, ranged from young media types to an elderly man of the cloth. Weekend guests are mainly London escapees, with business travellers during the week.
Things to do?
The ruins of the abbey, destroyed in 1539 during the dissolution of the Catholic Church, are within spitting distance in an attractive park complete with aviary. The Nut Shell, one of the smallest pubs in England, is also near.
Northgate House, Northgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1HQ (01284 760469; www.northgatehouse.com).