Travel Review: Stoke by Nayland Resort
By Rachel Ducker
Founded over 50 years ago by fruit farmers Bill and Devora Peake, the Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf, Spa and Lodges Resort has stood the test of time.
It’s part of the family–owned Boxford Group, which also includes the Boxford (Suffolk) Farms fruit growing enterprise – which the family first established here in 1938 – and Peake Fruit, a fruit packhouse, storage and marketing business.
Now into its third generation of family members at the forefront of the business, the resort now boasts the addition of an 80-bedroom hotel, restaurants and bars, spa and fitness facilities, its very own shop, event space and the addition in 2012 of its self-catering luxury lodges.
Situated in the heart of the Dedham Vale on the Essex / Suffolk border, here you can enjoy the delights of Constable Country at its best.
The spectacular scenery is the perfect backdrop for any wedding or function and with not one, but two championship golf courses this resort is considered to be the best of its kind in East Anglia.
With a farming background, the Peake family believe that it is vitally important to look after the countryside and the environment for future generations. Over the past few years, they have invested over five million in creating renewable and sustainable energy resources.
The hotel prides itself on being an eco-friendly place to stay, with green energy supplied by solar panels, ground source heat pumps, and converted biogas from its own farm’s AD Plant, making it entirely energy-self-sufficient: something not many hotels of this size can claim.
They also harvest millions of litres of rainwater from their soft fruit glasshouses and feed it back into their own reservoirs to be recycled as irrigation water for their fruit and golf courses – a perfect circular economy.
With 80 rooms, ranging from standard ‘Club’ rooms (no views) to Deluxe doubles, twins and Junior suites (with views) the hotel is sizeable and over the years has had its fair share of celebrity guests including David Beckham and Jude Law to name a few!
Our room was great for a family stay, there was plenty of space, two double beds and views overlooking the lake and undulating golf course.
For something a little more special, the most recent addition to the resort is 5 large contemporary self-catering lodges, located in an idyllic corner of the resort grounds, and built on the former site of a WW2 Women’s Land Army hostel, part of which has been preserved as a small museum in tribute to the WLA.
The lodges are stunning, full of light and with high spec fitted kitchens and furnishings and come with a welcome hamper containing a bottle of Copella apple juice of course – a product that Bill and Devora Peake originally created in their farmhouse kitchen over 50 years ago!
Food and Drink
The hotel bar is a cosy spot with an open fire a feature, one I could not stop looking at even though it was not lit in the summer – it was just beautiful!
The Lakeside restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto a large terrace. The menus offered variety and reflected the requirements of a broad clientele.
There was a set menu and a la carte menu to choose from during our stay. Being vegetarian, I started with the tender-stem broccoli, confit yolk with citrus dressing to start. A perfectly balanced summer dish to kick things off. My husband opted for the sticky shitake and sesame mushroom served with sourdough, it was lovely to see such a range in cuisines.
For the main event I was spoilt with a delicious sweet potato and chickpea curry served with wild rice and mango chutney. It was good hearty food and at a reasonable price point of £13.50. Meanwhile hubby stepped it up a notch with the roast cod fillet, beluga lentils and tempura samphire,
We both ordered the same dessert which for me, being eight months pregnant with a very sweet tooth, was the absolute star of the show and a chance to sample some delights from Boxford farm. The cherry chocolate bomb, kirsch cherries and chocolate brownie crumble would be enough for me to return for just that! It was sensational!
As for drink although my options were limited this time round, I enjoyed the Cawston Press selection of soft drinks whilst my husband tried the draft German beers. A great selection on offer with friendly staff who are more than happy to help advise.
In the morning, breakfast is a buffet affair made even better by the views over the lake and the 18th holes of the golf courses, which make for a perfect start to any day.
This resort is not short for things to do no matter what you are into. The Spa and fitness centre include a spacious gym equipped with very high-spec Technogym, and a spa and indoor pool steam and hammam rooms and a hot tub.
Neom and Decleor products are used in all the spa treatments along with OPI for those much-needed manis and pedis.
There is a well-equipped shop selling high-end food and drink items, including some of the fruit from the Boxford farms along with golfing clothes and equipment. There is even a build your own hamper service.
With the change in restrictions the new edition to the resort will be the teepees which are being built as we speak for the use of outdoor weddings.
For the guys let’s not forget to mention the sports bar, which during our stay hosted a perfect place to catch up on the Olympic news.
I can’t think of much this resort doesn’t have. Surrounded by their beautiful farms and produce in an eco-friendly setting the owners of Stoke by Nayland Resort seem to have it all covered. However, no doubt that comes with a lot of hard work including the employment of around 250 people
I really enjoyed my stay here but also loved learning more about the history of how it came to be and the journey to where it is today.
You don’t have to be a keen golfer to enjoy a visit here with so many activities to see and do. I personally am looking forward to visiting again for a little longer and perhaps experiencing one of the new luxury lodges.
Keepers Lane, Leavenheath, Suffolk CO6 4PZ, England.