Suffolk’s Waveney Valley is wild and unpopulated, save for red deer, muntjac, pheasant and a skyfull of songbirds in the 12-acre orchard beyond Bell Tower Lodge’s gorgeous garden. And yet you’re just ten minutes from a train that’ll whisk you to London’s lights in little over an hour. So round up 14 friends and wrap yourselves in wild luxury.
Everything comes with a little bit extra here: more thought, more care… more fun. The traditional merges well with the contemporary. Spotlights sit alongside deep skirts and high beams and log fires cast evening shadows across period paint colours. Posh and prim it may be, but Bell Tower Lodge also knows how to party.
Eat out on the terrace with steaks and sausages on the giant Asado barbecue or spicy meat feasts cooked on the giant pizza oven, with goodies from the Fen Farm Dairy and wine from Adnam’s. Bring your dog for the three-acre garden and let the kids loose on the playroom toys. Come together for log-lit Netflix on the smart TVs.
The three acres of garden come nicely manicured, ready for the distinctive summertime clack of your croquet mallet or the swish of your rounders bat. Bring your cossies for the heated outdoor pool, big enough for serious swimming or harmless bobbing, and hear the kids scream as they hit the water from the pool-side slide.
Sit back in the perfectly pristine and watch the neighbouring wild apple orchard come to life with red deer, muntjac, pheasant, partridge and a sky full of songbirds. Eat out on the terrace around the table for 14 with pizza or barbie fare from the giant log-fired outdoor oven. And don’t forget your dogs – there’s a lifetime of sniffing on offer here.
Everything’s artfully done here, so that the contemporary and the period remain on speaking terms. Spotlights and beams co-exist harmoniously and modern sofas sit with cushions plumped in front of traditional wood-burning stoves. Warm your toes and pop open another Prosecco.
After a day out in the Waveney Valley or Thetford Forest, come home to congregate in the sitting room or segregate yourself to recharge your social battery in the drawing room. Catch a little Netflix on the 50” TV streamed over 70 mbps Wi-Fi, while the kids get their fill of toys and TV in their own special playroom.
After a dip in the heated pool in the three-acre garden, maybe sling some sausages or a thin-slice meat feast onto the Asado barbecue and pizza oven. Then take your place on the terrace around the 14-seater table. Alternatively, a four-door Aga and electric oven are at your disposal indoors.
Or, hang all that. Jump into the pool while our chefs from Noble Prawn wrestle with the meal-making. Pick from canapes, lunch or dinner, or just easy-living, home-delivered suppers. Or pick up a takeaway from The Duke of Delhi, The Taste of Raj, or Lee’s Cottage for Chinese.
Top up the fridge from Fen Farm Dairy or take deliveries from all the major supermarkets. Wine and dine on the lovely terrace at The Oaksmere. Enjoy slow-roasted pork belly or a full rack or ribs at The Swan Inn. Or tuck into the tasting menu that includes hoisin spiced duck rillettes and beef fillet at The Fox and Goose.
Wander round the 12,000-vine vineyard at Wyken, then try fillet of hake or wild garlic and asparagus risotto at the on-site restaurant. Or go authentically Italian at The Watson and Walpole, with antipasto, followed by a pasta primo and a secondo main course. Or try The Unruly Pig: ‘the best gastropub in the country’.
In the wild and remote Waveney Valley and surrounded by a three-acre garden and neighbouring 12-acre orchard, not much stands between you and some serious sleep on the pocket-sprung mattresses. Bell Tower Lodge sleeps 14 adults plus a nursery and an additional bedroom that can take more children if necessary.
The master bedroom sleeps two in an Emperor bed and comes with triple-aspect windows plus en-suite bath and shower. Bedroom two is a nursery with a cot and single sofa bed, while bedroom three (Blue Room) provides a superking bed and en-suite shower room.
Bedroom four is a kids’ room with twin beds or a superking that shares a bathroom with the kids’ room. Bedroom five, the Eaves Room, sleeps two in a superking or twins and offers garden views and an en-suite bath and shower room. Bedroom six, the Beams Room, is another superking or twins with en-suite roll-top bath and shower.
Bedroom seven, the Attic Green Room, sleeps two more on the second floor in a superking or twins and shares a bathroom with bedroom eight, the Attic Double Room, which offers a kingsize bed. Bedroom nine, the Secret Room, is great for kids, not just for its name but because of the single trundle beds and the shared bathroom.