A bed for the night in Norfolk

Where is it?

In Hedenham, a hamlet just outside Bungay, on the Suffolk/Norfolk border.

What's it like?

This renovated Tudor barn in the grounds of Hedenham Hall was originally home to the estate's head groom, the horses, and gigs. Its pretty stepped gable, locally known as crow steps – a Dutch influence common on Britain's east coast – sets it apart from such conversions. The house sleeps four and is available for rent along with the larger Gardener's Cottage and the quaint Doll's House.

What's its USP?

History and comfort. The barn has been modified over the centuries so it has an architectural tale or two to tell, but it is also well equipped for modern-day living. Its location is good for exploring East Anglia.


Peace and privacy. The main room is a bold Suffolk pink which lends the place a cosy glow in the evenings.


Like all Rural Retreats' properties, visitors are welcomed with a hamper of goodies. The house is owned by the Stanleys, who live in the big hall, and although they respect visitors' privacy they like to make sure you are comfortable. Nice touches during our stay included making sure our toddler was well catered for with baby towels, toys and even his own little chair.


Only part of the barn has been converted, and while space is a bit tight it has been well utilised. The ground floor is divided into a large sitting/dining room and a decent little kitchen. Upstairs there is a double and a twin bedroom, both en-suite. There is also a small enclosed back garden. Ostler's is still free for New Year – 30 December to 4 January – for £629. Book with Rural Retreats (01386 701177; www.ruralretreats.co.uk).

Food and drink?

Relax and let Mrs Stanley cook a gourmet meal to welcome you. Otherwise, The Thai Kitchen in Bungay does a good take away and is just five minutes' drive. But don't miss the opportunity to rustle up a meal from some of the wonderful fare on offer locally. Our favourites included fresh fish off the boats at Aldeburgh, and pâtés, game and cheeses from Orford's smokehouse.


Couples and families. The proximity of the two other cottages makes it a good place for extended families to meet up. The Doll's House, with its gallery bedroom, is a favourite with couples called Smith.

Things to do?

There are tennis courts at the bottom of the garden. Nearby Bungay has an imposing church, said to be haunted by a black dog, and two independent breweries where you can sample the wares. The playbarn at Poringland on the B1335 is great for children. Norwich is 30 minutes' drive and there is the lure of the unspoilt Norfolk and Suffolk coastline.


Ostler's House, Hedenham Hall, Hedenham, Bungay, Suffolk NR35 2LF. For bookings contact Rural Retreats (number above).