On the banks of Fritton Lake as part of the impressive 5000-acre Somerleyton Estate, it is hard to miss the impressive mustard yellow façade of The Fritton Arms, dating back to the 16th century.
Re-opened in 2014 by Hugh Crossley, known to most as Lord Somerleyton, this country retreat makes the perfect place to relax with loved ones. Boasting nine simple but elegantly furnished rooms overlooking stunning views of the grounds, you wouldn’t be mistaken to think they had drawn inspiration from the popular Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire.
Here come the girls…
I arrive for a much-needed girlie get away with my best friend, so it’s a twin room for us, and not a bad one at that. Exposed oak beams contrast against modern luxurious bedspreads, designer lamps along with fabulous Cowshed products available to us during our stay, a perfect English country house experience.
We glam up and head down for dinner. The bar area, once an old inn, still retains its original look, right down to the stuffed pike which hangs on the wall. With a G&T in hand we peruse the menu next to the roaring log fire, the smell of the smoke reminds me it’s not summer anymore.
Wine and dine…
The restaurant–rustic with exposed brickwork–has an informal yet smart appearance with outbreaks of personality–my eyes draw to the splash of vibrant colour of the bright blue mis-matched chairs, whilst freshly cut seasonal flowers rest on each window next to modern pieces of art which add contemporary flourishes to the walls.
There is a well-stocked bar featuring local ales and an original wine list including The Arm’s wine of the month. You won’t go far wrong with this month’s pick the Italian Sauvignon Blanc.
Laying claim to zero food miles the menu is enticing and features locally sourced fresh ingredients directly from the estate. The land is mainly arable producing rapeseed oil, potatoes and barley, but it is also home to 80 Welsh Black Cattle and 120 Norfolk Horn Lamb and Welsh Black Mountain Sheep, when they say Estate Lamb on the menu–they mean it! If they can’t find it on the Estate, they source locally wherever possible.
A first time for everything…
Luckily for us, we had General Manager Will on hand to guide as through the tasty options. As a strict vegetarian, I opted for the ‘Wild Mushroom Pappardelle with Tenderstem Broccoli and Toasted Walnuts’ to start followed by the ‘Butternut Squash Risotto, Parmesan and Toasted Seeds’. After recently returning from Italy, it was a gentle nod to Italian cuisine I was accustomed to, sending me right back to the Amalfi Coast.
Kirsty, on the other hand, was feeling rather adventurous, (most likely down to the G&T). She selected the ‘Deep Fried Cod Cheeks with Tartare Sauce’. She then insisted on trying the ‘Slow Cooked Estate Rabbit and Barley Broth with Herb Oil’, for her main – it was the first time she’d tried game and I couldn’t stop her raving about it afterwards–much my dismay!
The proof is in the pudding…
Predictably, after two wonderful courses we were full, but it didn’t take much to persuade us to try a dessert. I say ‘a’ dessert–after deliberating for five minutes, Will could see us struggling, so like every great matradee he had a suggestion, “why not try them all” he asked? What a brilliant idea.
The next thing we know, armed with spoons, we are in a fight to feast on the selection of Sticky Toffee Pudding with Rum & Raisin Ice Cream, Somerleyton Blackberry Jam Bakewell Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream, Apple & Cinnamon Crumble with Honey Custard and Chocolate Brownie. What more could a girl want? Nothing is too much trouble here.
A playful side…
For those who like fun and games, The Fritton Arms has its own Billiard Room. I can’t say I would give Ronnie O’Sullivan a run for his money, but I gave it my best shot. It was the perfect way to end the night–we certainly had a giggle or two and gave everyone else one at that!
Whilst you are here…
Somerleyton Hall, the stately home, is open to visitors from April to September (Tuesdays, Wednesdays–gardens only, Thursdays and Sundays)–the history of the house is interesting and the gardens are delightful, supplying the gorgeous cut flowers in the hotel.
Fritton suits weekend-breakers looking for a pretty and tranquil setting. With a mixture of old and new this yellow beacon on a lakeside setting will always be sure to brighten your day.
To make a reservation please call 01493 484008
Church Lane, Fritton, Norfolk, NR31 9HA