Lady of the lake
Just a few minutes’ walk from Fritton Lake you will discover a little world of peace, quiet and tranquility, an old English rose showing new delights. Welcome to the Fritton Arms, says MELANIE WOODCOCK
A tranquil stay at the luxurious Fritton Arms
THE SUN was setting as we slowly wound up the drive to the impressive façade of the Fritton Arms. All was quiet, beautifully so.
It’s a small venue and from the reception area you can see the bar and tables and generally get the feel of the place. It’s informal and relaxed but with the emphasis on style and great food, ensuring you drop that bag full of stress at the door, take a deep breath and say ‘ahhhhh’.
Extensively revamped, the Fritton Arms, a short step from Fritton Lake, has recently re-opened as a place to relax with friends over well-selected drinks and a creative menu of locally-sourced food. There are nine elegant and comfortable rooms, an atmospheric bar, two dining rooms and a lounge, but the best seat in the house must be by the roaring open fire with a drink in hand, breathing in the magnificent aromas from the kitchen.
Our room was at the front of the house and offered great views from bedroom and bathroom. It can be difficult to get the mixture right when trying to marry the old and the new but the room was clean, unfussy and stylish, with none of those racks full of things for sale or things you just don’t want.
They do provide the things you do want; good tea and coffee, Cowshed bathroom products, a very comfortable bed and a
‘nearly knock you over’ power shower. If I have one tiny moan it was the lack of a shower cap. I’m sure most of the time they never get used, (they are pretty hideous) but I still use them and never think to pack one.
The downstairs bar is stocked with everything you could want and more and the house speciality is gins and gin mixes. They sounded very tempting but the wines were too good to resist. The dining room backs onto a garden which I imagine is full every day and night in the summer but for me the Fritton Arms is at its best before the crowds descend and you can appreciate how once it may have looked as a private home.
The menu was extensive enough with something for everyone. Most produce is sourced locally with a good selection of gamey dishes. My husband’s crab cake was cool and fresh, (yes, we are one of those annoying couples that constantly taste each other’s food) and my paté was sublime, smooth as butter and beautifully presented.
My pheasant came with a little mushroom pie, a jus, and was cooked to perfection. There was enough for us to share this dish easily and my husband assured me the local venison sausages, on a bed of the creamiest mash, were as rich as they should be.
A sweet and delicious sticky toffee pudding was shared to prevent calorie overload and cheese, biscuits and a good port rounded off what was an exceptional dinner. We felt spoilt and sated.
I had probably one of the best night’s sleep I have ever had, thanks to the quiet and stillness; no people running up corridors or shouting and no outside noise due to the location. Without the alarm I’m not sure how long my slumbers would have continued. Bliss.
But the thought of breakfast got me up and heading for the door and the very obliging staff were happy for me to go off menu a little. My healthy choice of porridge turned out not to be as it was clearly made with the richest cream and was divine – heaven in a bowl. There followed a good cooked breakfast while my husband thoroughly enjoyed his eggs Benedict. A couple more cups of tea and fresh coffee then we were on our way back to the real world.
It’s not often you leave a wonderful location with regrets and my only one on this occasion was ‘why didn’t I arrange to get there earlier and leave later?’
So, while I can see this grand old lady coming into her own in the summer months, for me her charm will always be a stay in the colder months. Privacy, luxury comfort and a perfect stillness; the ultimate cure for what life chucks at us.