The Hog Hotel, Pakefield, Suffolk
Dreamy modern interiors, a slick new restaurant and the cutest hedgehog logo make this new hotel, just steps from Pakefield's sandy beach, a perfect place to hibernate (sorry!). Here's what you need to know...
A posh new hotel in Lowestoft? You mean Southwold surely? Or Aldeburgh? Nope, this brand new beauty has recently opened in Lowestoft – albeit the poshest end, Pakefield, and what a brilliant addition it is. Owners Sally and Nathan Jones took the rather tired looking Fisher’s Hotel out of hibernation and have lovingly renovated every out-of-date corner into the stylish hotel it is today. The Hog Hotel wouldn’t look out of place in any of the Poshwolds or Chelsea-on-Seas. And we love that it’s bringing tourism to an under-valued part of our sublime Suffolk Sunrise Coastline.
What’s the name all about though? Hedgehogs aren’t exactly the first animal you’d associate with Lowestoft! It’s one of those personal stories that makes a hotel feel like a home rather than some corporate entity – Nathan’s father passed away just before the purchase of the hotel and hedgehogs were his favourite animal, so it’s a tongue-in-cheek nod to him. The cheeky hog logo (designed by Southwold design agency), called Dave, is a fun and modern touch that you’ll find everywhere from the toilet signs (one with a hair bow, one with a bowtie and even a little hog in a wheelchair) to the ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs in the rooms and even a merry looking hog perched in a wine glass in the restaurant.
Unless you know Lowestoft, it’s not entirely clear where you are when you pull up off a main road into the large drive. The sea is tantalisingly close though, just a short stroll down a quiet avenue, so while there are no actual sea views (our window shows glorious autumnal trees), it’s close enough that you could definitely call it a seaside retreat. It feels like entering someone’s rather glamorous house, with a large sweeping staircase (with so new-I-didn’t-want-to-walk-on-it carpet) before you discover the check in desk hiding under the stairs. There’s a delightfully friendly vibe about the place, nothing pretentious or prickly (that’s the last of the hedgehog puns, I promise) about the staff. We travelled with a toddler in tow and he was treated like royalty. Got a baby of the furry variety? Some of the outside rooms are dog-friendly.
The makeover is the perfect blend of Instagrammable and functional. It’s light and bright and comfortable, but everywhere you look there’s something worth snapping. Look closely at the feature wallpaper and you’ll see little hedgehogs nestled among the pattern, the huge gallery wall in the hallway is filled with arty shots of the local area and there’s a mirror made from porcupine spikes in the men’s loo (I had to check out every inch of the place for this review, in my defence!).
The Hog has 16 bedrooms, most of which are upstairs in the main house (which is a Tardis!), including five studio style rooms with their own front doors on the drive, including Dave’s Suite, which is an accessible room. Our chic Luxury Double Room was much larger than expected from a Victorian house hotel, with plenty of room for a cot, a sofa area and a desk and smart all-white bathroom, stuffed full of full-size Woodbridge-made Loggique products, aimed at reducing single use plastic. Tea-obsessed moi, and coffee-obsessed husband, were both delighted by the jar of Teapigs teabags and the Nespresso coffee machine, plus wine-obsessed both of us loved the cool cans of We Are The Uncommon English sparkling wine.
Other rooms are similar in style, but with their own unique touches and colour combos, some smaller with no sofa, but still lovely sizes and two larger suites, which can sleep up to four. All the fabrics and upholstery feel luxurious and of no-expense-spared quality. The towels are fluffy and the sink-into beds pillowy.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Owner Nathan co-founded Harbour & Co contract caterers, while Sally was marketing director, so they know a thing or two about the F&B side of things. And you can really tell that they’ve gone the whole hog when it comes to the restaurant. It’s an elegant light-filled space, with a tantalising glimpse of the kitchen just visible in the corner. We arrived on a Sunday – what meticulous planning on my roast dinner-loving part – and settled down for a roast at 3.30pm (they serve on a Sunday until 4). We were one of only two tables eating this late on, but they’ve got the ambience just right, so it didn’t feel echo-ey or too empty around us. Nathan and sister Cathy, who is general manager, grew up with their parents running a fish and chip shop round the corner, but there are surprisingly few chips on the menu, with Head Chef Steve Duffield, recently snaffled from The Crown in Southwold, keen on crafting homely and delicious yet beautifully presented food that people really want to eat.
We both devoured our roasts from the Sunday ‘Taste of Britain’ menu (mine half local whole roast chicken and Mr Muddy’s roast loin of Dingley Dell pork), with sides of perfectly roasted potatoes, delicious veggies, stuffing and the best gravy I’ve had in a long time.
Apple and blackberry pie with custard, and a warm chocolate fudge cake finished off a delicious meal to perfection and made us all the more keen to get down to the coastal path to walk it all off.
The bar on the opposite side of the corridor houses a rainbow of different spirits, including Cambridgeshire-based Hedgepig – the perfect tipple for this hotel, and I can see may a local and hotel guests enjoying civilised drinks here.
Breakfast the next morning in the conservatory was just as much of a foodie treat. There was a smartly laid out buffet, with local juices, fruit from a Southwold greengrocers, freshly-made bread and pastries and cereals in little packets all sealed with a Dave sticker, which delighted my son – “Hedgehog food!”. We ordered hot food to start the week off in style – My Muddy went for a full English and couldn’t get over the fact that the baked beans were homemade (I need to get him out more), while I munched my way through an English muffin filled with bacon and a perfectly-fried egg.
OUT AND ABOUT
Colourful beach huts on Pakefield beach are round the corner and on previous visits to this area I’ve really enjoyed a canter (or more like a out of control trot if we’re being honest) down the white sands on horseback thanks to nearby Pakefield Riding School. For shopping and little eateries Southwold is your best bet, just 9 miles away, or Aldeburgh a little further down the coast. As an area of outstanding natural beauty, the coastline is a walker’s paradise. The Hog particularly suggests the coastal walk from Pakefield to Kessingland and are happy to pack up a lunch for you to enjoy en route. Bird watchers can twitch to their heart’s content at RSPB Minsmere and the hotel has links with various local vineyards, smokehouses and dairies for food tastings and tours.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A relaxing break along a part of the Suffolk coast you’ve probably not explored before in a smart hotel that isn’t pretentious. Ideal for outdoorsy types who like riding on the beach or long coastal walks. Foodies will thrive here too.
Not for: Those looking for the quintessential Suffolk seaside break with shops, restaurants and boutiques on your doorstep. Take your traditional tastes off to join the crowds in Southwold, please! You can have the best of both worlds here though, the Hog is half the price of the top hotel in Southwold, and only 20 minutes away.
The damage: Both accommodation and food-wise it’s good value. Starters are all around £7.50, mains from £14.50 for a butternut squash steak up to £42 for 1kg bone in beef ribeye for two people to share. Desserts are all £6.50. An overnighter will cost you from £110 in a classic double or from £170 in a Luxury Double or Suite.
The Hog Hotel, 41 London Road, Pakefield, Suffolk, NR33 7AA; 01502 569 805.