Travel: Country cool near Southwold - without the hefty pricetag
- Credit: Archant
With rooms from £65 per person per night, a stay at The Angel Inn near Southwold is a steal says our food and drink editor.
Wangford. When you think of the Suffolk coast, this hamlet, nudged up alongside Suffolk's 'Chelsea-on-Sea', Southwold, probably isn't the first place that comes to mind.
But if you're seeking a bit of escapism, without the hefty price tag, the recently refurbished Angel Inn (from £65 per person per night) could be just what you're looking for.
It's the closest accommodation to Latitude (if you can't hack camping), and is just minutes in the car from Southwold, Springwatch favourite RSPB Minsmere, and the beaches of Lowestoft. Owner, Moss & Co, which has a string of properties in Suffolk, closed the pub last year, renovating the seven bedrooms, and bringing a bright new touch to the public spaces downstairs.
When we visited, tumbling in out of the cold, with a threat of snow on the air, we found a cosy community hub. At the bar, locals and guests mingled, pints in hand (they have five real ales on the pumps), snoozing dogs at the foot of the fireplace, basking in its warmth.
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The aesthetic is pleasingly simple, soft greys and creams, and painted woodwork riffing off the exposed brickwork. It doesn't feel 'overdone' or 'too posh to go in'. This is somewhere you can sit and chat over a drink, visit for fish and chips or a Sunday roast with the family, or cosy up in a corner with your partner for a romantic supper for two.
Cut crystal glasses, vintage-style bottles holding dainty foliage, and proper tapered candles are pared back flourishes which have given a touch of country chic styling to the dining room where new head chef Sam is using local fish, meat and vegetables to turn out classic cooking that caters for everyone.
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The menu changes quarterly, supplemented by specials, scrawled up daily on the blackboards. And there is something for everyone. My veggie dining companion Rachel had her pick of three starters and four main courses, several of them also vegan.
You'll find the kind of thing you expect in a pub - handmade burgers and fish and chips - alongside the likes of duck liver parfait with quince jelly, and pan-roasted duck breast with braised red cabbage and potato and Parmesan terrine.
After a board of Penny Bun Bakehouse's yummy bread with dipping oil and seaweed butter we shared soft, doughnutty fried nuggets of smoked cheese beignets with sweet onion marmalade, and spiced sweet potato. There was a vegan mezze platter as well. Earthy beetroot hummus, salad, pitta, plump marinated olives, and one of my favourite Middle Eastern dips, muhammara- a blend of bread, walnuts, red pepper herbs and garlic.
Rachel's main course was vegan too. Her garlic and rosemary marinated cauliflower 'steak' was tender but a little on the large side. Having two thinner cut slices would have allowed the marinade to penetrate better. However the salsa verde gave it some peppiness, and the shirazi salad, usually a tumble of tomato and cucumber, was made hearty and wholesome with quinoa - we both wanted the recipe.
I followed with a generous portion of flaky, meaty cod, over a peppery bubble and squeak cake with buttered kale and sprouting broccoli, and a plate-lickingly savoury saffron and clam sauce.
Finishing dessert was just a moment's work as we demolished a tangy lemon meringue tart with cherry gel, and a warmly spiced wodge of bouncy vegan sticky toffee pudding.
A nightcap in hand, these two mamas were then very rock and roll, retiring to our room with a tot of Bailey's and a crossword. The rooms (check out the luxury suite with its jacuzzi bath) are of a similar ilk to downstairs. Soporific dove greys, tweed and plant prints. Thick, light-blocking curtains. A comfy bed with a cloud-like duvet and oodles of pillows. And a hospitality tray complete with Freshpak coffee bags, hot chocolate, various teas and homemade shortbread cookies (yes).
Being ethically-minded was obviously a consideration too. Milk came in a chilled flask (you won't find those nasty little UHT pots here), instead of miniature toiletries you'll find fixed Scottish lotions and potions in the shower room. Reusing towels is encouraged. And the lights are motion sensored in the bathroom too.
After trying (and failing) to complete the day's paper's jumbo brain twisting crossword (we need to brush up on the Olympics from the 1960s) there was little more to do than dim the lights, curl up in the warmth and fall asleep to the jingle jangle of Wangford's church bells.
A big breakfast beckoned in the morning - large enough to set us up for a girly Sunday shopping marathon. Ahhh...just what the doctor ordered.