17 of Suffolk's cosiest pubs to visit this autumn and winter
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
It’s official – autumn has well and truly arrived. The clocks have gone back, the evenings are darker, and the weather is that little bit chillier.
That’s why now is the ideal time of year to head to the pub.
Whether you’re with friends, family, or on a date night, Suffolk is home to some of the region’s cosiest and quaintest inns. So if you’re looking for warming, homecooked meals, roaring fires, and some of the realest ales around, we’ve got you covered.
And after the past two years the hospitality sector has had, it’s the perfect excuse to head to some of these fine establishments and give them your support.
The Butt and Oyster, Pin Mill
If it’s scenic waterside views you’re after, then look no further than The Butt and Oyster.
This Grade II-listed pub has records that go back all the back to the mid-15th century and is steeped in history. As you enter, you’re greeted with a cosy, rustic bar area that features a log burner, and there’s even a snug room – perfect for date nights.
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“We’re an Adnams pub, so we have a selection of real ales at the bar including Southwold, Broadside and Ghost Ship,” explains general manager Dale Russell.
In terms of food, customers can enjoy a varied menu that includes seafood dishes such as the pub’s beloved fish and chips, skate wing, rock eel, and even Hawaiian-inspired poke bowl if you fancy something a bit more adventurous.
In addition, the pub is proud to boast that it’s dog-friendly, so there’s no excuse to not bring your four-legged friend with you.
And if you want to make a day of it, be sure to take a stroll around Pin Mill itself, where you can be sure to soak up panoramic views of the River Orwell as you venture along the wooded foreshore and enjoy the autumnal show of colour.
The Parrot, Aldringham
Nestled just outside of Leiston is the village of Aldringham, and there you will find the historic The Parrot pub. An old 16th century smugglers’ pub, this friendly local is equipped with a large, open roaring fire, and features original oak beams throughout.
“We also built our Outside Inn during lockdown, which has turned out to be a very popular place to have dinner,” explains executive chef Chris Theobald.
“The inside resembles a log cabin, and we have heaters above the tables, and blankets in case it’s still a bit chilly.”
At the bar, punters can indulge in a variety of local tipples, including Adnams, ale from Lacon Brewery, and local gin including Aldeburgh’s very own Fishers.
In terms of food, there’s plenty to satisfy, including the pub’s best-selling scallop starter. “The goat curry is also perfect for these cold months now setting in. Salter and King butcher in Aldeburgh supplies us with some amazing steaks alongside their own burgers, too.”
If you’re looking to stretch your legs either before or after your pub visit, why not head to nearby Aldeburgh for a mosey around the shops, or perhaps take a stroll along the seafront? Alternatively, Snape Maltings, Minsmere, and Thorpeness’ The House in the Clouds are all fairly nearby, too.
The Freston Boot, Freston
This country inn on the outskirts of Ipswich was named one of the top pubs in the world this summer, falling into Tripadvisor's top 10 per cent.
And things are even more on the up now, with new head chef Louis Andrews having joined the team last month.
With a high calibre background, starting for the Milsom group at Le Talbooth, and coming fresh from Tom Kerridge's London eatery, Louis has injected a sense of playfulness and fun into the menus at The Boot - which has its own kitchen garden, smokehouse – and even chickens.
Recent editions to try this autumn include cauliflower bhajis with coconut yoghurt, sambal and mango chutney, Dingley Dell pork belly with black pudding mash, honey roasted carrots, kale, crackling and a cider vinegar and mustard sauce, and sticky toffee pudding - with homemade ice cream, custard, brandy snap... and popping candy.
The lantern-lit entrance is a soothing welcome in out of the cold, leading into what's a very traditional-looking Suffolk inn, with scrubbed wooden furniture, tiled floors, beams, open brickwork, and a crackling wood burner.
There are more than a dozen cask and keg ales and lagers at the bar, changing regularly, and including local brews as well as drops from across the UK - from Adnams Blackshore Stout, to Ay Up from the Dancing Duck Brewery.
Our group food editor says this place is definitely one to watch!
The Crown Inn, Stoke-by-Nayland
Set in the heart of Constable Country is The Crown Inn, a traditional pub that certainly feels like a home away from home.
Its country-chic décor and romantic lighting throughout provides a welcoming retreat for both hungry explorers and locals alike, and its winter garden is a definite must-see. Settle in with a pint or a glass of wine, grab one of the faux fur blankets on offer and make your way through the menu.
A variety of tasty dishes are on offer, including a number of sharing boards using locally-sourced produce throughout, and catch of the day specials. Real ales available at the bar include regional favourites Brewers Gold, Woodfordes Wherry, and a number of rotating guest beers.
Thanks to its picturesque location, The Crown Inn is just a stone’s throw away from some stunning walks in Dedham Vale (which is a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty), Dedham and Flatford, the River Stour, and Colchester Zoo is just a few miles up the road. There are also a handful of bedrooms at the pub too, in case you wish to extend your stay and make it a weekend away.
The Sweffling White Horse, Sweffling
A three-time recipient of the Ipswich and East Suffolk CAMRA Pub of the Year award and one-time winner of the East Anglia CAMRA Pub of the Year, it doesn’t get much more local than The Sweffing White Horse.
Just outside of Saxmundham, this taproom-style pub prides itself on its wide range of ever-changing locally-brewed ales, bottled ales, and traditional games such as bar billiards.
“We’re very lucky to have some amazing breweries and producers in Suffolk and Norfolk, but a few of our favourites are Earl Soham Brewery, newcomers Beccles Brewery, and a single malt whisky from the English Whisky Co. Local brewery The Big Drop also make really nice alcohol-free beers - we stock four of their ales and one lager, and we also make our own ‘nilcoholic cocktails’ in the pub,” explains landlady Marie Smith.
“We also make some seasonal specials such as homemade mulled wine, homemade spiced cider, and warm spiced apple juice - all landlady's own recipe.”
While The Sweffling White Horse doesn’t serve food, it is just a stone’s throw away from a couple of eateries in the vicinity. “There are some great walks nearby. We recommend visitors to the area enjoy a circular walk from the pub, taking in either the Crown Inn in Great Glemham or The Rendham White Horse for a meal, followed by a drink in our pub,” adds Marie.
The pub – which is entirely heated with wood – also features two woodburners, low-level lighting, candles, slippers for customers, and a cosy Chesterfield sofa to sprawl out on. Dogs are also welcome.
The Angel Inn, Wangford
Built in the 18th century, this rustic pub in north Suffolk is the perfect place to spend a quiet Sunday this autumn. The Angel Inn – which was recently renovated in 2019 – boasts wooden beams and open brick fireplaces throughout. There are also seven hotel rooms available.
Make your way to the bar and peruse a variety of ales on tap – the pub’s current offering includes Adnams’ Southwold Bitter and Ghostship, Greene King’s Ruddles, and Encore by Lacons.
In terms of food, its spiced butterflied chicken breast dish is one of its most popular items, while its cocoa-crusted venison served with celeriac purée fondant potato, seasonal greens and blackberry jus is another tasty offering. There is also a lunchtime set menu during the week, which showcases new and exciting dishes each week for as little as £15 for two courses.
The village is filled with character, and visitors should definitely take a trip to the nearby farm shop. However, if you fancy travelling a tiny bit further, Southwold beach and Covehithe are both only 10 minutes away in the car.
The Greyhound Inn, Pettistree
Located in the quintessential Suffolk village of Pettistree, The Greyhound is a beautiful 14th century inn – and there you will find wonderful food coupled with a welcoming ambiance.
Chef Louise produces a carefully-curated menu which focusses on pub classics alongside local game and fish dishes – with the occasional Scottish twist. Think Suffolk meets the Highlands. Just some of the dishes on its menu as of late include plaice stuffed with crab and prawns, beef rendang, salmon en croute, and of course traditional roast dinners.
And if you’re into your spirits, then this is the pub for you, as Stewart serves a wide range of malt whisky and Scottish gins, as well as fine local ales such as Adnams and Earl Soham.
The pub’s rural location also makes it great for going on a stroll either before or after your visit thanks to a number of trails surrounding the pub that vary in length.
The Froize, Chillesford
A short drive away from the Suffolk coast, David Grimwood’s The Froize is your one-stop-shop for all things cosy, warming and welcoming. If it’s a hearty roast dinner you’re after this season, look no further as this pub serves them on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
David prides himself on using locally sourced meat, fish, and game - and his vegetables are actually grown on site by his youngest son. There are also gluten-free and dairy-free options available, and a variety of desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth for afters.
The food isn’t the only star attraction here however, as visitors can be sure to enjoy ‘Folk at Froize’ - a series of folk, Americana and rock live music gigs within the pub. Edgelarks will be taking to the stage this Sunday, and Green Matthews on Saturday December 18. Live music and good food, what more could you want this autumn?
But if that wasn’t enough, The Froize also holds regular workshops for customers – with birdwatching and identification classes coming up over the coming weeks. Why not make a day of your visit and book onto Fieldfares and Redwings with Steve Piotrowski and John Grant on Thursday November 18, or the birds of prey masterclass taking place on Thursday December 9?
The Sibton White Horse, Sibton
Slightly off the beaten track, this Suffolk pub dates all the way back to the late 16th century, and over 400 years later has still kept many of its charming, historical features. Think smallish rooms with low ceilings, wonky walls, huge inglenooks, and stone floors.
This freehouse is a proud supporter of the region’s independent breweries, and currently features ales such as Green Jack Golden Best from Lowestoft, Strummer from Shortts Farm Brewery in Diss, and Autumn Leaf from Bilderston’s Cannon Brewery.
The pub’s food menu focusses on seasonality, with a lot of its veg coming straight from the pub’s on-site kitchen garden. Currently, its most popular dish is slow-cooked and pressed feather blade of beef, served with creamed potato, Chantenay carrots, chard, parsnip puree and bourguignon sauce.
Nearby, visitors can enjoy the likes of RSPB Minsmere, Framlingham Castle, and stretches of the Suffolk coast. There are also a number of circular walks starting at the pub that can be found on its website. In addition, there are a number of hotel rooms within the pub too, if you wish to extend your stay.
Queen’s Head, Blyford
Head to the picturesque Blyth Valley, and there you will find the Queen’s Head – an historic country pub built in the 15th century. Many of its original features still stand to this day – including a thatched roof, oak beams and a large open fire.
“The pub feels like home - we have just eight tables in our main pub area so it’s always a nice, intimate experience for our customers and sitting by the log fire just adds to the ridiculously cosy atmosphere we create here,” explains landlord and head chef Matt Goodwin.
Matt works hard to curate a locally-sourced and seasonally-friendly menu, which he describes as ‘known-grown’. “I know all of the people making or growing the produce we serve here at the pub. I am also keen to showcase other local artisan producers and makers by using their products within the pub such as our hand potted cups for coffee and in the restaurant, too.
“We also make everything from scratch. We’re into old practices such as fermenting, preserving, baking, pickling, foraging, and learning how all of these practices tie together to create a greater understanding of how to get the most of produce when it’s here in order to get it to last into the winter and beyond.”
Customers can therefore enjoy dishes such as smoked mackerel pâté, burgers made from Suffolk-reared beef, and homegrown kale and red onion soup. Behind the bar, you can expect to find a range of Adnams beers and spirits.
The pub is also just a few miles from the Suffolk coast, and the likes of Southwold, Walberswick, and Dunwich are all a ten-minute drive away if you wish to explore.
The Cock Inn, Brent Eleigh
The Cock Inn is a 17th century family-run thatched pub which has been in the same hands for just under two decades. Step inside and feel the warmth as both rooms have roaring open fires, creating one of the cosiest vibes around.
Little has changed on the inside since just before the Second World War, and because of this, it was recognised as a ‘Pub Interior of Outstanding Historic Interest’ in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pubs. There is also a large outdoor sheltered seating area with heaters.
The pub always has three real ales on tap - Adnams Bitter, Greene King Abbot, and a guest ale normally from a local brewery, alongside real cider.
Customers can expect to enjoy doorstop sandwiches made with fresh bread from a local baker in Lavenham – and on Thursdays, the pub opens in the morning to serve a cooked breakfast. On Sunday, why not head down for a delicious homemade roast?
The Cock Inn is a popular destination for walkers as it is situated halfway round the five-mile circular Lavenham walk. The historic St Mary Church is also nearby, which houses some of the country’s earliest church wall paintings – dating all the way back to the 13th century.
The Station, Framlingham
Just a short distance from the centre of Framlingham, The Station could be described by some as a ‘pub foodie heaven’. Head on down and make your way through the menu, where you will find all of the typical pub fare, alongside locally-sourced cheeseboards, woodfired pizzas and delicious hog roasts.
Punters can choose from a selection of ales from the likes of Earl Soham and Cliff Quay Breweries, alongside the usual spirits, beers, wines, and soft drinks.
Handily located nearby are Framlingham Castle, and Framlingham Mere – a 13.8-hectare nature reserve definitely worth checking out this autumn.
The Moon and Mushroom, Swilland
Dog-friendly, with home-cooked food, and real ales – could there be a more perfect pub? The Moon and Mushroom is a multi-award-winning historic inn that ticks all of those boxes, and provides the perfect place where you can relax with friends and family thanks to its round, open fires and cosy patio areas.
Its cask ales are stored and served direct from the tap room, with a number of them locally-brewed right here in East Anglia.
Diners are also welcomed in both the main bar area and the snug, where they can peruse the menu which features regularly changing special dishes alongside traditional pub favourites.
The Beehive, Horringer
Just outside of Bury St Edmunds, The Beehive pub is known for its roast dinners (with vegan options available), freshly-made crumble and real custard, and extensive wine and cask ale list. Can you get any more autumnal?
Choose from the likes of Ghostship, Wild Wave Cider, and a selection of guest ales, alongside wines, spirits, and soft drinks. Both family and dog-friendly, it’s the perfect pub to get everyone together at thanks to its characterful alcoves and toasty log burner.
It’s also only up the road from Ickworth House and Park – a sprawling estate run by the National Trust that stretches across 1,800 acres of parkland, gardens and paths.
The Ferry Boat Inn, Felixstowe
Set in the hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry, The Ferry Boat Inn has a long and illustrious history going all the way back to the 15th century. Originally built as a home to the ferrymaster, it later became a hostelry for travellers and fishermen in the 16th century.
Today though, it is better known for its well-kept cask ales, log burning stove, beer garden, and homecooked food.
Dishes on its menu include pub classics such as beer-battered fish and chips, prawn cocktail, chicken curry, cottage pie, beef lasagne, burgers, and sausage and mash.
If you’re looking to venture out, unsurprisingly the pub is right on at the mouth of the River Deben, which is perfect if you fancied an autumnal beach stroll – and the Felixstowe-to-Bawdsey ferry is just up the road, too.
The White Horse, Edwardstone
A regular staple of both CAMRA's Good Beer Guide and the Good Pub Guide, The White Horse is a champion of real ale, and certainly worth a visit this autumn.
Thanks to eight keg lines and rotating cask taps, punters can enjoy a mix of independent and local craft breweries’ lagers, stouts, IPAs, and sours. There are also a number of ciders, spirits wines, and sparkling wines to enjoy. In terms of food, waygu burgers and street food are served every Friday evening, while cheese and charcuterie boards made from locally-sourced meats and cheese provide the perfect pairing for your tipples.
Not only that, but there’s a real earthly vibe to the place too as there are solar panels on the roof, the pub’s water is sourced from its very own borehole and there are three woodburners heating the place up – using local coppiced wood.
The Star Inn, Wenhaston
A self-proclaimed ‘proper old-fashioned English country pub’, The Star Inn is just a few miles away from settlements such as Halesworth and Southwold.
Open since 2009, its picturesque location provides visitors with stunning views across the Blyth valley – perfect for a stroll at this time of year.
For anyone looking to whet their whistle, there’s usually up to four local cask ales on tap, and two traditional ciders and perries. For something a bit more substantial, there’s an array of pub classic dishes, desserts, and lunchtime baguettes as well as freshly-made stonebaked pizzas which are available Tuesday to Saturday.