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Thorpeness Hotel & Golf Club (Suffolk)

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Address: Thorpeness / Aldeburgh / Suffolk / IP16 4NH / Tel: 01728 452176

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      08.12.2009 11:34
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      A lovely hotel in a pretty area, with an added bonus for golfers.

      My boyfriend and I decided we quite fancied squeezing in a last minute break somewhere before Christmas. We didn't want to be too far from London and work commitments meant we couldn't go up on the Friday night, so just needed a place to stay on the Saturday. We picked the Suffolk coast as it was about 90 minutes drive from home and having visited a friend there briefly a few years ago, I really wanted to explore the area further. As we didn't decide where we were going until Tuesday night we found our options quite limited. Although it was November and forecast to be one of the worst weather weekends of the year, most small hotels and Bed & Breakfasts were already booked up or wanted a two night minimum stay. It was also surprisingly expensive, more so that Stratford-Upon-Avon where we had been a month earlier. In the end, on Thursday my partner booked a superior room in the Thorepness Hotel and Golf Resort (although neither of us actually play golf!) which cost £125 per room including breakfast.

      Thorpeness is situated about a mile or two up the coast from the beautiful seaside town of Aldeburgh, with the equally lovely Southwold about 30 minutes drive away. There are lots of picturesque villages in between. It is a hamlet, with very little facilities, although it does have a beach (pebbled I believe - we didn't visit it). If you have ever seen a postcard or calendar from Suffolk you would, no doubt, have seen a picture of the House in the Clouds, a tall house built to disguise a water tower that can be seen from Aldeburgh and the surrounding area. This is walking distance from the hotel and can also be seen from the golf course (you can't go in the house, it is private rental, but worth walking round to that and the windmill next door).

      We found the hotel quite easily, as there isn't that much to Thorpeness, we parked in the car park and admired the gardens through the rain. We rushed into the hotel through the back door and walked around to the front. The reception staff were friendly and polite, and we were soon checked in after declining a morning newspaper. You can check in from anytime after 2pm. Our room was large with a massive bed with plump pillows, cushions and a duvet. I wanted to live in it was so comfy and big. There was also a sofa, flat screen TV, desk and wardrobe space. The en suite bathroom was a good size with a bath/shower unit, large mirror and sink and W.C. There were also bathrobes as well as fluffy towels. The complimentary toiletries were nice but not a brand I knew. There was also complimentary tea and coffee, a hairdryer and free Wi-Fi. There was room service but not 24 hours. We had patio doors which opened out should we want to sit outside but it was a bit wet and blustery for that. The communal and public areas of the hotel were all decorated with a golf theme with paintings of famous golfers and cup winners names in the wood panelled bar.

      As the weather was clearing up we went out to explore the surrounding area a bit further (and try not to get blown over). The one disadvantage of the location of the hotel is that you would need to drive or get a taxi if you wanted to eat out of the hotel, unless you wanted to walk through country lanes late at night, and as we didn't really know the best places to eat and the towns looked quite busy (and the weather dreadful) we decided to eat at the hotel. We booked a table (you must be seated between 7-9pm out of season) and the restaurant was only half full, and only with hotel guests as everyone seemed to be staying there. Service was very attentive and polite, with only the men being given the wine list and the bill (although I was quite happy about the latter!).

      The menu changes daily, so not all options are available all the time. It is limited to about five dishes to each course, but there is always a vegetarian option. For my starter I had Goats Cheese en croute, which was served on a crouton, not in pastry as I had expected, with a nice mixed salad and a balsamic dressing. I couldn't fault the presentation and it was delicious. My poached spinach and ricotta tortellini in a basil sauce was nice also, it seemed freshly made, but was quite filling and 'samey'. I had a chocolate tart for dessert in vodka and berry syrup all washed down with a New Zealand Sauvignon and we had a lovely evening. Also on the menu were duck, pork and fish dishes. Whilst service was attentive it was not intrusive and we were both very impressed, food is beautifully presented and a lot of thought seemed to have gone into the presentation and selection of the dishes. I didn't see the bill but I would estimate it came in about £80 for the two of us for three courses with wine.

      Before and after the meal we sat and had a drink in the wood panelled bar (which has a lighter conservatory for more informal dining). Here there was also a bar menu as well as being served the restaurant menu and the service seemed to be as excellent as we received in the main restaurant. After an excellent night's sleep in the massive bed we had breakfast in the main restaurant again (you could also eat in the bar/conservatory area too). There is a buffet selection of juices and cereals etc with croissants and the waitress will bring you over tea or coffee and some toast before taking your cooked breakfast order which includes a full English as well as egg and fish dishes. I can't fault the cooking of the breakfast and they did my egg exactly as I asked. You eat with a view of the third hole, which I didn't realise in the dark of the previous night.

      Unfortunately check out time was 10am which I thought was a bit early, but I suspect most guests were on the golf course by then. It offers 30 rooms and I thought the hotel offered value for money, yes it is expensive compared to a B&B but you got better service, a much larger and more comfortable room, so you do get what you pay for. I would normally stay somewhere cheaper, but am glad we treated ourselves on this occasion. We don't play golf, but I am assuming it is a very good course as it certainly seemed popular. I would recommend this hotel, I believe it has a three star hotel and I think it is well deserving of that status with excellent rooms, service and food.

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