The Pier in Harwich, which overlooks the town’s original Ha’penny Pier, was built in the mid 19th century to accommodate passengers embarking on steamers and packet ships to the Continent.
There are fine views across the harbour to the confluence of the Rivers Stour and Orwell and of tugs, ferries, cruise ships and yachts bustling about on the water. To the right are the cranes of Felixstowe, a surprisingly romantic sight at night.
Bounce Magazine were kindly invited along for a stay and dine review, here’s what we thought.
“When you think of Harwich, you conjure up images of industrial container lorries and hoards of seagulls, I certainly never thought of visiting for a romantic break away, until I visited The Pier.
This stay was extra special for us as we were also allowed to bring our four-legged companion Archie too, due to the hotel being dog friendly – an immediate tick in the box. The Milsom family-owned hotel group, which includes the well-established Maison Talbooth and Milsoms in Dedham and Kesgrave Hall in Suffolk, opened the hotel in 1978. Inspired by a trip in the US to a harbourside restaurant in Boston, Milsom senior bought the historic Truman Brewery hotel, along with the Angel pub next-door, later annexed to create a lounge area and additional bedrooms. This is where we stayed during our visit.
The Mayflower Suite, which boasted sea views and telescope at the window for spying on the passing boats, is one of the nicest rooms I have stayed in for a while and was more than big enough for Archie!
We were mesmerised by the bracing harbour views from the double aspect windows, and surprisingly appealing vistas of the cranes of Felixstowe.
After settling in, we decided to take Archie for a short walk around the town ending up back at the NAVYÄRD, the hotel bar, for a pre-dinner drink on the terrace, overlooking the harbour.
The bar is a nod to scandi-chic, with an understated, slightly industrial décor, based on the influential and historic links that Harwich holds with Scandinavia and wider Europe.
“A continental-inspired bar with an enviable drinks list”
With a Gin Library containing over 100 types of Gin, Cask Marque Ales, Craft Beers and an amazing cocktail menu, it is hard not to get carried away. As it was a Friday, (and it had been a long week,) I ordered a very strong Vespa Martini, whilst my partner was in need of a nice cold beer after that walk.
Along with some roasted nuts, served in a high ‘on trend’ copper saucepan, a material widely used throughout The Pier, we enjoyed the comings and goings whilst the sun started to set. It was soon time for dinner, so we settled Archie in the room for the night and headed up to the Brasserie restaurant.
As you pass reception, a sweeping staircase leads into the romantic, harbour side Brasserie, open, but separated into various areas and nooks. We were lucky enough to be seated next to the elevated front terrace and on this particular evening overlooked the end of that phenomenal red sunset.
If seafood floats your boat you’re certainly in the right place and as keen vegetarians the seafood heavy menu was very appealing to us indeed. As we browsed, we nibbled away on crispy warm sourdough, washing it down with a glass the house wine that was very pleasent.
To start, I could not resist one of my all time favourites, ‘The Classic Prawn Cocktail’. I always think the hardest element to get right in a Prawn Cocktail is the Marie Rose Sauce, and there was no messing about with this one, it was delicious! Sam chose the ‘Springtide Fisheries Smoked Salmon with Lemon Puree, Cucumber, Fennel and Dill’, it was pretty, but unfussy and after stealing a bite (as I always do,) I can confirm it was fresh, zingy and a perfectly well rounded starter.
For the main course Sam continued to steer his ship towards another fish dish and couldn’t resist trying the luxurious ‘Harwich Lobster Thermidor’, which we were told, was caught overnight off the Harwich coast. Now that’s what I call fresh! The flesh was sweet but juicy and tender, served with a creamy veloute of sauce, the perfect compliment to the shellfish dish.
I on the other hand went a little more Italian and ordered the ‘Aubergine Parmigiana with Rocket and Balasamic Red Onion Salad’. To be honest I demolished this so quickly I forgot to let Sam try some, so to say it was good was an understatement, packed full of juicy Aubergine, bursting Tomatoes, rich in flavour. It was also complimented with salty, skinny fries to dip in the sauce!
From the desserts list my chocoholic fiancé stuck again, and indulged in the ‘Belgian Chocolate Brownie’, made with a very rich dark chocolate accompanied with Pistachio ice cream. I passed on the ‘traditional dessert’ and finished with an Espresso Martini, which ended my meal seamlessly and headed back to the room with me.
After a peaceful nights sleep in the large oversized bed, we enjoyed a healthy Avocado breakfast in the Brasserie, before setting off for a trip on the Harwich Harbour Ferry, (which you can read more about on page 76).
Sam, myself and Archie, look forward to visiting again very soon.
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