“ The Quay / Harwich / CO12 3HH / Tel: +44 (0)1255 241212 / Fax: +44 (0)1255 551922. „
With two superb restaurants; fresh produce at it's doorstep; very helpful and friendly staff; dramatic seaside surroundings, a very classy and unique hotel in a charming and pretty little town.. it's a wonderful getaway to The Pier at Harwich. I thoroughly recommend it!
The Pier at Harwich is run by my favourite hotel group, Milsom Hotels, a small independent chain based in the prettier part of Essex. Managed for over twenty years by Chris and the very charming Vreni Oakley, this hotel overlooks the Hapenny Pier at Harwich. As with all Milsom establishments it is the service and attention to detail that makes every visit perfect
I have been visiting the Pier on and off for a few years now and recently it was completely refurbished. The new styling, overseen with impeccable taste by Geraldine Milsom, is effortlessly elegant and comfortable. On arrival the entrance, main bar and bistro area is an airy welcoming space of scrubbed wood with large comfy chairs and table lit by a stunning expensive light system that the staff modify during the day and night to adapt to the atmosphere. From a bright, but not glaring feel during the day as you watch the sun sparkle on the sea just across the road, to a softer, more intimate atmosphere as the evening draws in
Checking in is a pleasant straightforward experience. Particularly for us as we are well know and greeted by name, but having seen other guests arrive, it is clear that the staff treat everyone with the same warmth. In fact the staff cannot be praised too highly, clearly the Milsom group are on the ball when hiring their team. Everyone is helpful and appears both happy and proud to work here. Even though I have stayed in most rooms and know the hotel almost as well as the staff, each time, I am taken to my room by a cheerful employee, my bags carried and various features pointed out to me. One perfect example of the attitude of staff was last year when we treated my mum to lunch there on mothers day and she had to catch a train home afterwards. The taxi we had booked failed to arrive and as time drew closer we began to worry. The receptionist had a quick word with a waitress who then popped over and told us she would give my mum a lift to the station. This was done with no thought or hint for payment of any kind, it was just how the staff behave; it is their priority to ensure that their guests have the best possible time. Exit one very impressed mum!
After checking in I can happily spend hours curled up in the depths of an armchair in the bar reading a book and watching the boats glide past from the large picture windows as I sample the delights of the snack menu. The procedure for ordering from either the bar or bistro downstairs is the essence of simplicity. Selecting from either the menu or blackboard of daily specials is the hardest part. There are so many delicious treats to tempt your tastebuds it can be easier said than done to make a decision. Much of the food is locally caught seafood but meat eaters and vegetarians are also very well catered for. After finally choosing you write your choice on a pad using the stylish pencil (of which I now have a couple at home as they are quite irresistible!) thoughtfully provided on each table then take it to the bar/reception and sit back to await the arrival of what I can guarantee from my experience is always a delightful repast
I must just quickly mention the loos. Ladies will know why we are often let down on evenings out by shabby facilities! The ladies toilets are a real pleasure to visit; although small (just two cubicles) they are, like the rest to the hotel, absolutely spotless. Along with extravagantly luxurious disposable cloth style hand towels Molton Brown liquid soap and hand cream are provided. It is this little extra luxury that makes all the difference to a necessary duty!
All the rooms are individually designed and all are stunning. There are fourteen rooms categorised into three types; standard (£95.00), superior (£105.00), deluxe (£115.00), plus their Mayflower Suite. Having stayed in all three grades I can say that they are all superb. Some of the standard rooms have only a shower so if you prefer a both it is worth mentioning that when booking. It is the décor of the rooms that delights me. Each one is styled to complement the room shape and the outlook, but they all have the same understated nautical feel. With seagrass carpeting, eggshell painted wooden panelling in natural sea colours, wrought iron lamps and mirrors, charming paintings and ornaments the effect is traditional with a modern twist. Of course the bed is thing when sleeping away from home and these cannot fail to impress. Each room has a large bed with acres of snowy white duvet, huge pillows and a selection of coordinating cushions to complement the furnishings. Underneath the television, which is conveniently situated on a lazy Susan so you can angle the screen towards the bed or seating area, is a well stocked mini bar and tea and coffee making facilities. The tea and coffee are free but the mini bar and snacks are charged for. A lovely touch is the bone china crockery and a darling little teapot so you can indulge in a decent cup of tea
The bathrooms are all are delight to while away some time relaxing in deep bubbles, perhaps with a glass of champagne from the mini bar. Decorated in mainly off white tiles laid diagonally rather than horizontally, there are the usual array of complimentary toiletries and a shower cap. My only criticism is the shower/tap arrangement, which I usually have difficulties with I am forever struggling to get it to go from shower to bath and end up spraying myself with cascades of water. A quick call to reception and someone will always pop along and show you how get the thing to work though. As the refurbishment is still going on and I believe the bathrooms are next on the list I am hoping that this will get sorted soon
Although the standard rooms cannot be faulted and are comfortably spacious, it is well worth paying the extra to upgrade to a superior or deluxe room just for the additional space and views. My favourite is room number 3, which is on the left corner above the restaurant with panoramic views across the estuary and towards the docks. We never close the curtains at night and enjoy watching ships pass gracefully in the night as we drift off to sleep. This room, and other higher-grade rooms are like mini suites with seating areas of sofas, armchairs and coffee tables. The hotel rooms are located above the first floor Harbourside restaurant or next door in the annexe, a renovated pub and we have never been disturbed either by late night diners or passers-by, I think they must have good soundproofing as this hotel is deservedly exceptionally popular with locals and tourists. The recent addition of air conditioning in many rooms ensures a perfect nights sleep
If you are feeling flush, want to celebrate, or are getting married, then the Mayflower Suite is the room to book. At £170.00 a night it is out of our price range but on one memorable occasion when we arrived we discovered to my elation that we had been upgraded at no extra cost to the suite. I presume they had had a run on bookings and upgraded us from superior as they knew they could easily sell a lower priced room, whatever the reason it as a wonderful way to treat a regular guest and something we will never forget. The suite is vast, situated on the first floor of the annexe it has a large bay window overlooking the sea complete with a brass telescope to view the ships and scenery more closely. On entering there is a good-sized lobby with the bathroom off to one side. The room itself is very spacious and airy with the biggest bed I have ever slept in, two enormous sofas and a pair of outsized footstools, coffee tables, all decorated with the trademark nautical style. The bathroom again is very large, boasting a walk-in shower and a ridiculously large bath. I was so excited to be staying in this room that I didnt want to sleep and miss any of time there so after dinner I indulged in a long soak, I had to get out after too short a while as I was so sleepy from all the first-class food and wine that I kept falling asleep and sliding under the water, which shows how large the bath is I am five feet seven and have never been in a bath I could lie submerged in at full length before or since
The Harbourside restaurant is one of the best restaurants I know locally. Situated on the first floor it has an underlying feel of being aboard ship with the tall windows overlooking the sea and the split-level design with wire railing sectioning the bar area from the tables. The extensive menu is divided into sections: From The Smokehouse, From The Land, Soups, Oysters and Shellfish, From The Sea and From The Land again. So you can see there will be something to suit all tastes. One thing I particularly love is that many of the dishes are available in a starter or main course portion. Not only does this help when choosing but also it means I have the choice of a smaller main course if I am not so hungry. Prices range from around six pounds for a starter right up to thirty for the largest serving of Harwich lobster or their celebrated seafood platter. The seafood platter has to be seen to be believed. Served over crushed ice, they provide a square cut log at your side to place it on as it is too big to fit on the table, it is a dramatic array of chilled fresh fish and seafood a feast fit for (very hungry!) king! All the food is beautifully presented and served with a delicious array of fresh seasonal vegetables and new potatoes, cooked to crisp perfection. The extensive wine list starts from as little as £13.50 for a bottle of 2005 Colombard/Sauvignon Blanc. Service at all times is friendly, professional and unobtrusive
The pudding menu is joy to those with a sweet tooth. A very good selection of freshly made appealing treats and should you have difficulty choosing there is always the Assiette of desserts the chef's enticing selection of desserts served "en cameo". The cheese plate is also worth a try for those who prefer to end their meal with something savoury. After dessert we treat ourselves to coffee in the raised bar area. With more plain wood flooring, a shiny metallic bar and porthole styled windows and mirrors this is a perfect place to sit and digest the delights of your meal. Afterwards a stroll along the Hapenny Pier opposite finishes off a perfect night before tumbling into the welcoming softness of the oversized bed
Breakfast is served in the Hapenny Bistro. Continental breakfast of toast, preserves, cereal, rolls, croissants, Suffolk ham and mature cheese washed down with tea, coffee and fruit juices is included in the room price. Cooked breakfast is an additional £7.50. Normally I find the continental is perfectly sufficient for my appetite, but if you prefer a hot breakfast it is worth the price as it is cooked to perfection and the portion is enough for one person plus me stealing the odd item!
The Pier also organises special events. Their most well known and ongoing is a yachting break, one to two days sailing with accommodation, evening meal and packed lunch from £190.00. One day I am definitely going to indulge in this as if the normal hotel service is good this should be a fabulous experience
Our one night stays range from around two to three hundred pounds depending on how far out we push the boat. A little pricey, but worth every penny for the fine food and excellent service. I cannot fault this hotel and have never had a single disappointment in the many times I have visited. To be honest the only disappointment I have is having to leave now that IS a painful experience and leaves me sulking all the way back down the A120!
An attractive coastal town with an international port, Harwich is a great place to visit with plenty to see and do. Langdard Fort, just across the estuary is a fascinating place to visit and can be easily reached in summer months via the ferry from the Hapenny pier. Harwich is not far from Ipswich and Colchester, if you are ever in the area, or live nearby do pay the Pier a visit, if only for a coffee or evening drink, the atmosphere is relaxed and lively by night and tranquil in the afternoons
Do take a look at the photos on their website after all, everyone knows that a picture is words a thousand words and boy are these pictures gorgeous and very true to life! I click along there quite often just to sigh and reminisce between visits!
I definitely pressed the 'yes' to recommend button but it recently this seems to be showing as a 'no' - maybe dooyoo has a bug?