You don’t have to drive far to enjoy a boutique break on the beautiful north Norfolk coast - and you don’t even need to leave the dogs behind, as discovered
IN AN idle moment I have sometimes thought that, were I to be reincarnated, I would like to come back as a dog.
And, if I did come back as a dog, I would encourage my owners (don’t ask how) to take me with them to stay at The Lifeboat Inn in Thornham. For there I could be guaranteed the sort of comfort and attention, and an apparently limitless supply of biscuits, that I would, as the loyal family pet, deserve.
There would be something in it for the humans, of course; The Lifeboat is an utterly charming boutique inn/hotel in the heart of the north Norfolk coast, a rambling warren of a place steeped in 500 years of history, with lots of surprising little nooks and crannies, smart bedrooms and an excellent kitchen.
We, two humans and two canines, were lucky enough to pick the first proper week of summer for a midweek stay at the hotel. We arrived as the sun was lowering itself over the horizon, spent after lightly baking the Norfolk coastline all day.
Our room – named, like all rooms in the
inn, for one of the crew of the Licensed Victuallers III, a Hunstanton lifeboat – pressed many buttons. Stylish, with smart decor in the right shades of Farrow & Ball and lit by those vintage-y lightbulbs, it had a handsome bathroom and all essentials for man and beast, including dog mat, bowls and more biscuits.
We repaired to the conservatory for supper, dogs in tow. If you’re less keen on eating under the hungry gaze of hopeful hounds, they are kept to the one room; however everyone seemed quite happy and there was no commotion from the assembled labradors, terriers or even our two.
We (the present Mrs Castle and me) shared a seafood platter to begin with, a festival of smoked mackerel and salmon, crayfish tails, squid and bread. My pescetarian partner chose the fish pie to follow, a hearty concoction served with just-right vegetables, while I selected pork belly with apple cider mashed spuds, crunchy greens and a treacle jus. Escorted by a pleasing Chilean Merlot, it was all delicious.
It would have been rude not to try a dessert, so we politely ordered coffee pannacotta, toasted almond and pistachio crumb, cocoa oil for herself and peanut butter parfait, crushed pretzels, with a butterscotch sauce for me.
Full to bursting, we heaved ourselves and biscuit-filled dogs out for a nighttime waddle around the village.
Next morning, after a comfortable night disturbed only by dogs taking advantage of the opportunity to hop up and steal bedspace, we breakfasted without them. I eschewed the traditional full English in favour of poached egg with thick slices of ham and hollandaise sauce on muffins; the PMC grazed the extensive buffet and topped up with porridge. It was all first-class.
Indeed the whole stay was first class and even though we were barely an hour from our own front door it was a delightful and relaxing change of scenery. All praise to the crew of The Lifeboat. Dominic and Rosie (and Ollie and Lexi) Castle were guests of Agellus Hotels, who own and manage a group of hotels and restaurants including The Lifeboat Inn and The Chequers at Thornham, Tuddenham Mill, The Westleton Crown and The Ship at Dunwich. Room rates start at £145 and the hotel has a range of offers available; for full details call 01485 512236 or visit www.lifeboatinnthornham.com