Happy birthday, 24-hour Room Service: It was 10 years ago yesterday that The IndependentTraveller launched this series of hotel reviews (One Aldwych in London was the first candidate). To mark the first decade, we have chosen somewhere a bit out of the ordinary: Carrington House in Norfolk.
To order room service, 24-hour or otherwise, you really need to stay in a hotel. But what if you could arrange to have a luxury home at the disposal of you and your loved ones, with the option of chefs and silver-service waiters at your beck and call? Now that would be room service worth having.
Carrington House is a self-catering property that bears all the hallmarks of a good hotel, the only catch being that you have to rent it all out at once. The Grade II-listed property lies right in the heart of the pretty village of Snettisham. A canary-yellow door is the first hint of the unconventional interior that lies behind the graceful Georgian frontage. It was taken over last year by interior designer Shaun Clarkson and former set designer Russell Hall. The pair went to town, decorating it in a flamboyant, theatrical style, with bright colours, bold patterns, and an eclectic mix of furniture from the 1920s to the 1970s.
Not for nothing have Clarkson and Hall named the house after the Carrington family in Dynasty. There's a gold-tiled, mirrored bathroom; the dining room boasts a black-lacquered table that seats 20, plus white leather chairs, Bridget Riley-esque wallpaper and a 12ft by 6ft black-framed mirror; and there's a hot tub in the converted stable (soon to be joined by a treatment room and sauna).
The pair already had a holiday property, a converted barn in nearby Narborough which goes by the name of Cliff Barns (another character, of course – give or take a letter – from Dallas).
Carrington House, like Cliff Barns, can only be hired out in its entirety, which makes it a popular choice for families and groups of friends getting together – and, no doubt, for corporate team-building weekends. The decor teeters on garish in certain rooms, but that's part of the appeal; you'd probably never dream of decorating your own house with two black neo-classical pillars either side of the bed (as in the Versace Room), or with black wallpaper imprinted with pink and lime-green parrots (as in the Pavilion drawing room), but this is your chance to spend a few nights in a fantasy world.
Carrington House, 12 Lynn Road, Snettisham, North Norfolk, PE31 7LS (0870 850 5468; carringtonhouse.net).
The house is in the centre of Snettisham, 12 miles north of King's Lynn and five miles from beautiful Old Hunstanton beach, where guests have access to a private beach hut.
Time from nearest mainline station: King's Lynn, with fast trains from London, is a 20-minute drive away; you can get from King's Cross to Carrington House in two hours.
With six bedrooms in the main house, plus another three in the attached cottage, the property can sleep a total of 18 people, plus two more on a sofa bed. The bedrooms are all strikingly individual, from the Green Room, with lime-green and white trellis-patterned wallpaper and ornate Louis XV-style white furniture, to the Chinoiserie Room, with oriental-themed wallpaper and Chinese ornaments. Each room contains a double, a queen or a king-size bed. The exception is the Red Room, where the eight-poster bed can be configured as two separate singles or a three-mattress super king.
Downstairs are two lounges – the grown-up Pavilion Room and the more whimsical Den, with log fire, plasma television and iPod dock – plus a large kitchen painted in yellow, with an original tiled floor and Aga.
The Terrace Bedroom has an unusual four-poster decorated with a cut-out of a woodland scene, and doors opening out on to a small walled terrace.
The Cabin Room upstairs has a nautical feel, with whitewashed tongue-and-groove walls and a free-standing bath in the bedroom.
Since you don't have to worry about other guests, you have the choice of letting your hair down and partying: head to the basement of the main house, where the sound-proofed cellar has been turned into a party venue with a dance floor, DJ booth, karaoke machine, and a six-foot pull-down cinema screen. A professional DJ can be provided at an extra cost (musicians, comedians and magicians are also available). Beauty therapists, yoga instructors, nannies, chefs, silver-service waiters and bartenders can also be arranged.
Freebies: REN natural toiletries and kitchen basics such as tea, coffee, milk and olive oil.
Keeping in touch: Telephone, free Wi-Fi, satellite television.
THE BOTTOM LINE
From £3,650 for a three-night weekend: £61 per person per night if 20 share.
I'm not paying that: the nearby Rose & Crown (01485 541 382; roseandcrownsnettisham.co.uk) offers doubles with breakfast from £90.Reuse content