The Mail’s hotel Inspector calls at the Blakeney Hotel – the ‘grand dame’ of the north Norfolk coast with guests who’ve been regulars for 40 years. Here’s his verdict…
The Blakeney Hotel is the grand dame of the north Norfolk coast: expensively dressed, well-mannered, self-assured — and been around for ages.
It occupies prime position on the quay, with spectacular views of the estuary and salt marshes to Blakeney Point and the seal colony.
It’s pricey in spring and summer, with a loyal clientele, many of whom during our midweek winter stay are of a certain age. We hear one couple telling a waitress that they have been regulars for 40 years.
In return for such loyalty, guests are guaranteed seasoned service, tasteful decor with a nautical theme, formal dining, an indoor swimming pool, fully fledged gym and plenty of space to sit and cogitate.
Go between now and Easter and there are deals. We’re on a dinner, bed-and-breakfast package for £330, which is still a lot, but nearly £100 cheaper than normal. We are offered a choice of room — either a smallish one overlooking the estuary or something bigger on the garden side.
The Blakeney Hotel is the grand dame of the north Norfolk coast, declares the Inspector
Of course, we choose the former, which even has a balcony with table and chairs. It’s a pretty room — feminine, with sumptuous bedlinen and an antique chest of drawers.
‘Do you have a history of the building?’ I ask at reception. ‘We don’t, I’m afraid,’ is the reply.
‘Do you know when the hotel was built?
Then the young barman gets in a muddle and makes my negroni with dry rather than sweet vermouth. And you’re not allowed to order your food from the drawing room.
So we take our drinks through to the table and order from there. The Caesar salad is far too dry and lacking in anchovy, but full marks for the mussels; and my Dover sole (£11 supplement) is excellent.
Blakeney Hotel’s indoor swimming pool. There’s also a fully fledged gym
What a joy to be woken by seagulls. The seal tours don’t start until Easter, but dog walkers are out in force. It’s low tide and the North Sea is a good mile-and-a-half away.
We’re amazed that you can’t get an espresso or latte at breakfast. It’s old-fashioned filter coffee in old-fashioned tin cafetieres.
At checkout, I ask again about the history of the place and am given an A4 piece of paper. It says The Blakeney was built in 1921 on the site of what was the Crown & Anchor, a haunt of smugglers.
The Blakeney Hotel, The Quay, Blakeney, Norfolk, NR25 7NE. B&B from £173 per person. For more information call 01263 740797.
Rating out of five: ****