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Sara Green catches up with Jacqui and Richard Gooding, of Letheringham Water Mill Cottages, as they celebrate winning Visit England’s 2017 Dog Friendly Business of the Year
“I HOPE YOU LIKE DOGS,” was Jacqui Gooding’s greeting to me. Owners of Letheringham Water Mill Cottages near Easton, Jacqui and her husband, Richard, are confirmed dog lovers and amazing hosts. As their gorgeous Australian Labradoodles bounced about us, I looked around at the beautiful surroundings. If I spent the weekend here I’m not sure I’d ever want to leave, and if I brought my dog with me, she definitely wouldn’t want to.
Jacqui and Richard bought the Mill House in 2014, a tumble down collection of dilapidated buildings on the edge of the River Deben. Beautifully and stylishly restoring the Water Mill and Mill House they have created some of the highest quality holiday cottages I have ever seen. But they’re not just stunning holiday cottages, they’re dog friendly holiday cottages, the quality of which is by no means compromised by their canine guests.
In keeping with the history of the mill there are lots of period features. The newest cottage includes a glass wall so the working water wheel can be observed in all its historic glory. But there’s also more than a touch of luxury – a cinema room, indoor fire pit, music memorabilia (including a guitar once owned by Rod Stewart), Wurlitzer Juke Box, king size beds, ipads for guest use, state of the art kitchens, wet rooms, a magnificent deck overlooking the river for sunbathing and alfresco dining, and cosy sitting rooms for autumnal and wintry weekends.
Born and educated in Suffolk Richard moved to London to pursue a career in aviation. He met Jacqui ten years ago and the couple decided to look for a holiday business they could run together. They initially thought about moving to Barbados, a place they love, but finally decided on Suffolk.
During their travels with their dog, Teddy, Jacqui and Richard realised that while many hotels and holiday cottages describe themselves as dog-friendly, but that wasn’t always the case. Dogs were often excluded from certain areas, and poor Teddy showed his disapproval at being left alone in hotel rooms or in the car, while on his holiday, with chewed seat belts and TV cables.
So, they decided to make their holiday business truly dog friendly. Four legged guests at Letheringham Mill are as important as their two legged owners and are presented with personalised crates containing all they need to ensure a wonderful stay. To top it all there is even a purpose built dog shower. The lengths Jacqui and Richard go to has not gone unnoticed. They’ve just gained national recognition by winning Visit England’s 2017 Dog Friendly Business Award. Quite an achievement for a small two-years-old business.
Letheringham Mill Cottages has won a national award for its dog friendly accommodation