An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
Tel: 01508 470444
Website: Dunston Hall
Email: [email protected]
An Elizabethan stately mansion surrounded by 150 acres of relaxing parkland only 3 miles from Norwich city centre providing the perfect place to unwind in old world grandeur whilst enjoying a variety of leisure pursuits
Where to find it
It’s hard to believe that Dunston Hall, with its endless wooded peaceful parkland, is only 3 miles from the centre of Norwich city with its theatres, bars and busy nightlife. In fact it provides an excellent overnight stay if you’re planning to take in a show at the hugely popular Theatre Royal, the understudy to all West End productions so you can expect some top class performances. If you’re looking to get away from everything though, Dunston Hall is the place to go. There really is no need to leave its grounds. Immediately upon entering its walled entrance, the stresses of life slip away.
What to expect
I’m never keen to review hotel chains but in my opinion the Devere group does offer a touch of finest accommodation that sits apart from other organisations. Many, if not all, of its hotels have something special to offer. This is apparent as soon as you pull up outside the Dunston mansion, built in 1859. Its grand presence and classic British charm instantly warm you and a sense of royalty prevails – everyone feels important here. The reception, in contrast to the old world exterior, is modern, contemporary and full of class with a grand piano and chandeliers. If you arrive early take in a light lunch in the lounge bar conservatory whilst your room is being prepared; it provides an excellent atmosphere to begin your break away with sunlight filtering in from every corner and overlooking the well tended extensive gardens.
The hotel offers a selection of room types, their grandeur proportional to their price range, but I stayed in a classic, otherwise known as standard, room and was very comfortable indeed. I was particularly impressed with the huge ceiling fan that would be greatly welcomed in summer. Deluxe rooms feature larger seating areas and many offer four poster beds, suites have stunning views across the 150 acres of grounds and attic rooms have a more traditional feel with low beams and period features, so all tastes are accounted for. Walking through the corridors everything has a medieval oversized presence – the doors tower over you and the staircases, with their thick solid structures, take on a power of their own. The sheer size of this place is mesmerising.
As well as the lounge bar and conservatory, you’ll find the Brassiere bar and grill serving breakfast, lunches with an emphasis on local flavours and a classic English grill for dinner – the buffet has three stations: hot dishes, deli for starters and a wok area for spicy stir fry. The restaurant is spacious with a contemporary feel yet warm and inviting; a place to take your time and enjoy the experience.
The leisure facilities are impressive here as emphasis remains on relaxation and enjoyment. A renowned par 71 US PGA rated golf course with eleven out of the 18 holes having water hazards provides a challenging circuit. Bunkers bar and restaurant is a bistro style clubhouse that offers light meals to refuel between games. A first class on-site spa offers an extensive selection of treatments and the pool area is one of the most spacious I’ve seen with all the usual whirlpool, sauna and steam add-ons.
If you’re looking for something a little more adrenalin pumping, you’ll find a great variety of pursuits to explore. Within the grounds they offer quad biking, off road 4x4, clay pigeon shooting, archery and a football pitch. If walking in the fresh air amidst stunning scenery is what you desire, again your expectations will be exceeded as the hotel has several guided routes to follow that weave throughout the beautiful parkland; cycles can also be hired. Budding photographers will be in heaven particularly at sunrise and sunset when some breathtaking shots are easily achieved.
To me, Dunston Hall has not only a very British feel but also represents a slice of traditional Norfolk charm that will be welcomed by all. Step back in time and enjoy a weekend away from manic modern life; relax, unwind and experience rural Norfolk at its best.