England's Norfolk County has vast skies, beaches stretching for miles and a history dating to the Roman conquest of Britain. Such a place deserves hotels worthy of their heritage. An 18th-century vicarage, an elegant Elizabethan manor, a village green hotel with afternoon butler service and a country estate growing 700 varieties of herbs -- with kitchen staff skilled in using each one -- are among Norfolk's most luxurious hotel options.
Congham Hall, an 18th-century manor, sits on 30 West Norfolk acres minutes from the royal family's Sandringham residence. The gardens supply its restaurant with vegetables and herbs and its rooms with flowers. The hotel has a putting green, tennis courts and croquet lawn. Fourteen guest rooms, scented with homemade potpourri, have traditional English decor, views, Egyptian cotton bed linens and robes. Management advises pre-booking for in-room massage and beauty treatments. A babysitting service and high tea for guests younger than 7 are available. The terrace-side Orangery Restaurant serves light meals throughout the day, traditional afternoon tea and seasonal lunches and dinners.
Part of a three-hotel complex on the village green in North Norfolk's Burnham Market, Vine House offers boutique accommodations complete with early evening butler service. Seven individually decorated rooms have pocket-sprung mattresses, luxury bed linens, freestanding bathtubs, handmade bath tiles and designer toiletries. Antique Georgian furnishings and flocked wallpapers add to the opulence. Therapists supply in-room massage and beauty treatments. Children younger than 14 stay at reduced rates. The hotel study has a selection of magazines, books and board games. Rates include full English breakfast served at the Vine House's sister hotel, the Hoste Inn.
Sprowston Manor Marriott Hotel and Country Club
An oak-lined drive brings guest to Sprowston Manor and Country Club’s doorstep, three miles from Norwich center. The Elizabethan-era hotel stands of 10 acres of land at the heart of an 18-hole golf course. Its 94 guest accommodations have pillowtop mattresses, luxury bedding and flat-screen televisions. Some have four-poster beds, robes and slippers. High-speed and Wi-Fi Internet access are available (fees apply). La Fontana Spa provides a full range of health and beauty treatments. Children and adults share the indoor pool facilities. A fitness room offers cardio equipment and free weights. Golf packages are available. The Restaurant 1559 boasts two Automobile Association rosettes for such seasonal entrees as balsamic-glazed lamb rump served with thyme mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables and cranberry compote.
The Old Rectory
The Old Rectory, an English Heritage grade II-listed Georgian home, also has a 2-rosettes AA restaurant. Its eight rooms -- five in the main house and three in the converted coach house -- stand in an acre of established gardens two miles from Norwich center. All have luxury cotton bed linens, flat screen televisions, Wi-Fi and dial-up Internet access and luxury toiletries. Most have garden-view, southern exposure. Cycle storage is available. A River Yare walking path, just minutes away, provides exercise on days too cold for the outdoor pool. Room rates include breakfast with free-range eggs, fresh yogurt and locally sourced meats; afternoon tea includes scones and cake. Seasonal dinner menus change daily.
- norfolk beach image by john barber from Fotolia.com