Tucked away in the heart of pretty market town Holt, Byfords is a charming and stylish place to enjoy a restful stay, just a few minutes’ drive from the north Norfolk coastline.
Although that’s not to say the hotel-restaurant-café-deli is quiet. It is in fact a hub of activity and clearly as much of a mecca for tourists as it is for the residents of the rural town.
Byfords is described as a “higgledy-piggledy world of pleasure”, and their description is quite fitting. The building, thought to be the oldest in the town, with the cellar dating back to the 15th century, has been added to little by little over the centuries. But despite its higgledy-piggledy nature, Byfords feels surprisingly spacious and contemporary. At its centre is a huge, high-ceilinged, oak beamed dining room, and there is nothing poky about the hotel’s 16 rooms.
The hotel, or “posh B&B” as they call it, fits in, around and on top of Byfords’ bustling restaurant and thriving deli – you find your way around the building up tiny staircases, through low doorways and down cobbled corridors. Each of the bedrooms has elegant furniture, luxurious fabrics and heaps of style. The rooms are traditional yet rustic, with exposed brick walls, oak floorboards and natural local materials – as well as neat touches like vintage boots, worn suitcases and weathered old writing desks.
The rustic feel ends once you open the bathroom door, though. Each marbled en-suite is kitted out with drench showers, under-floor heating and super soft towels. Plus, there are thoughtful extras like bath salts, scented candles, bunches of fresh flowers and music to listen to while you soak.
When it comes to the little touches, Byfords has literally thought of everything. Any hotel room where you arrive to the sound of classic FM, a plate of freshly baked shortbread biscuits and a chalice (yes, a chalice) of chocolate eclairs (the sweets, not the pastries) is good by me. Plus, there are generous tea and coffee making facilities and a little fridge in the hallway stocked with fresh milk, bottled water and more of those scrummy shortbread biscuits, just in case you run out. I can’t fault a single aspect of it.
Food and drink
Byfords is not just a hotel. Although a lot of love and attention is showered on those staying in its comfy beds, the primary focus is on the restaurant and deli. In fact, almost as soon as we’d put down our suitcases we were ushered back down the stairs into the café to unwind over a complimentary cup of coffee and a hearty piece of homemade cake – surely the best way to kick off any stay.
Eating at Byfords isn’t restricted to certain times of day (breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are all encouraged here) and prices are reasonable – cakes and pastries are £2.75, while a main will set you back around £14. The focus is on fresh, local ingredients, so expect a lot of Norfolk cheeses and locally-caught fish.
For breakfast, you can enjoy an indulgent full English, kippers, smoked haddock and prawn kedgeree or a mountain of warm pastries. Linger over your morning paper long enough and it’ll soon be time to try out lunch – think fish finger sandwiches, chunky soups and seafood sharing platters. For dinner, Byford’s nooks and crannies transform into intimate candlelit corners where you can enjoy seasonal specials. The Byfords Seafood Pot is one dish you shouldn’t miss.
If you haven’t had enough to nibble on, the deli next door sells olives, cheeses, more cake and even yummy frozen meals to take home with you.
Address: 1-3 Shirehall Plain, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 6BG
Radio Times Travel rating: 10/10
Ellie Walker-Arnott stayed as a guest of the hotel in 2014. Double Rooms start at £155 a night. For more details about this hotel and to find the latest room prices, please visit the official website.