Belle Grove Barns can be found in the middle of the rural Suffolk countryside but a stay here is guaranteed to leave you feeling like you’ve been much further afield. The collection of boutique cottages are actually less than two hours out of the M25, but the owners have clearly been inspired by more exotic locations.
Stepping into each barn – which vary in size, sleeping between two and six – is like stepping into a fairytale. Each cottage is unique and filled with exotic, cleverly curated treasures. We stayed in The Stable, which, like the others, has eclectic interiors, including richly painted walls, dark woods and gold detailing. There are tapestries, wooden carvings, sparkling beaded chandeliers, sequined cushions and patchwork throws.
It’s not all about looks though, there are real elements of luxury here, from underfloor heating and waterfall showers to soft fluffy bathrobes and insanely comfortable beds.
Each property has a little outside space, a walled-garden with a barbecue, patio, exotic plants and patch of lush grass, but guests are free to wander around the estate too. You can find a big pond (home to eleven tiny ducklings during our stay), vintage farming equipment, a shepherd’s hut for stargazing and a field for walking the dog or playing with the kids.
Southwold is a short drive away (as long as you don’t rely too heavily on your satnav – a real paper map is a must in the signal black spots). It’s a journey worth making. The town boasts brilliant spots for lunch, dinner or a slice or three of cake, as well as countless independent stores and vintage markets. There is also a beautiful pier and a long beach lined with pretty pastel beach huts. In fact, Belle Grove handily owns one, which you can rent for a day on the sand.
Food and drink: Belle Grove Barns are self-catering, yet a pint of milk, bottle of wine and a box of chocolates was there on our arrival (you know, the essentials). There are a number of pubs within driving distance in which to refuel, but if you want to cook the barns are just a short drive from Halesworth town, with a Co-op superstore and a number of independent shops. You’ll have no trouble whipping up a feast in the property’s state-of-the-art kitchen. With a coffee machine, blender, food processor, utensils and countless pots and pans, Belle Grove is better equipped than my own kitchen.
Price: Short breaks start at £420
Address: Belle Grove Farm, Low Common, Westhall, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 8QU, bellegrovebarns.com
RadioTimes.com rating: 10/10
An exotic, fairytale retreat that’ll make you feel like you’ve travelled half way around the world.
Ellie was hosted by Belle Grove in May 2015. All of our contributors maintain editorial independence at all times and conduct first-hand research.
Ellie is an entertainment, TV and film journalist writing news and (hopefully incredibly witty) comment for RadioTimes.com. She loves light-hearted dramas and glossy US series - and is more than a little bit obsessed with Downton Abbey. Foodie, sun-seeker and aspiring novelist in her own time. Likes the fact that her name rhymes with telly.