Imagine a poolside setting straight out of Mallorca. And a bucolic English dream in serene West Suffolk. You’re close to imagining the magic of Orchard Hill Barn. Sleeping 16 in eight delicious bedrooms, Orchard Hill itself sleeps peacefully in the Suffolk countryside, its huge terrace beckoning the pastures beyond to come share a Mojito.
But lazing and lounging might not be on the agenda. Not in a barnstorming Suffolk holiday home so flush with facilities. Slide out to the pool through the bi-fold doors, narrow your eyes only slightly and on a fine day you could be somewhere beautifully Balearic. Dive right in or just grab a sun lounger and dare to dream.
Cook or be cooked for on the NEFF ovens or on the big, beautiful barbie. Eat around the 12-seat dining table or outside by that Menorcan pool. Sizzle in the sauna. Light up the firepit for late-night chats. Swing by a Sky Q movie. Grab some fresh air and fun in the four acres. Tell the neighbours you live here. Because you do, right?
We could talk about the four acres of fresh air and fun, including the half-acre of woodland that’s ripe for a ramble. We could go on about the wonderful outside dining space, the giant barbie, the footy-ready lawn, and the sauna that’s ready to fizzle and sizzle a path to your improved wellbeing. We could mention the sprawling south-facing gardens, at the end of which you’ll find a quiet spot with a hammock looking out over the West Suffolk fields.
We could do that. But we’d be ignoring the elephant in the room. Pass through the bi-fold doors here and, Narnia-like, you enter a more-southerly level of latitude. You leave Suffolk and emerge, blinking, into Santorini or Sardinia.
The Med-style entertainment area here is huge: a sprawling terrace of loungers, lavenders, rattan chairs, oversized pot plants and pergolas. At its heart? The heated 15-metre pool. Get wet, stay dry and dream, towel off. At night, get the firepit going, gather round and watch the pool sparkle in the spotlights.
Some would say the best living space is outside: the entertainment and pool area is big, beautiful and Balearic. Even with a nip in the evening air, as the firepit’s your friend. But if you’d prefer cosying up indoors, the fun and frolics don’t end with the patio. Let’s head indoors.
Galleried landings are always special. When they come with a few frames of full-size snooker or a bish and a bash of ping-pong attached, they’re even more so. Watch hours disappear in mortal combat while you dip in and out of the bar. If your potting or your ping-ponging improves, dip some more.
If anything’s more impressive than the galleried landing, it’s the sheer vaulted look of the place. Downstairs, the exposed brick rises to infinity; follow it up the glass-balustraded stairs to the first-floor living room with its widescreen TV. Pour a coffee from the bean-hungry NEFF, sprawl on the L-shaped sofa, and curl up in front of the TV whilst flicking through Sky Q.
Set up your own soundtrack with the Ultimate Ears speakers. Dive into the DVDs. Stream away on the fast wifi. Or just stare at the views of the garden, orchard and rolling hills from one of the highest points in Suffolk. Try to remember you’re only just over an hour from London, yet your blood pressure’s surprisingly low.
This isn’t the kind of place you’d want to serve up cheese on toast, although we don’t mind if you do. But if you’d prefer to flex your culinary muscles on local honey, ham and asparagus, the facilities are here, in a NEFF-fest of fan ovens, hobs and induction hobs. Better still, let Nicky Swinburn from Creative Food flex for you.
Eat around the twelve-seat dining table beneath the galleried landing with the bi-fold doors flung wide open to the pool, the patio and the rolling pastures beyond. Or get your sausages and steaks loaded onto the big, beautiful barbie and chow down by the firepit on the rattan furniture.
This is a foodie county, so check out Lavenham Farmers’ Market for fresh produce sold to you by the person who grew, baked, brewed or butchered it. Eating out? The Weeping Willow offers beer at one end of the bar, champagne at the other, and everything from duck breast to mushroom-and-avocado burger in the middle.
Move on to The George at Cavendish for Flat Iron steak with shallot cream or pork belly with celeriac mash. To Pea Porridge for ‘Bertha’ Cruden Bay lobster, rabbit kibbeh with tapenade, or jumbo quail. To Maison Bleue for modern French fine-dining, to The Secret Garden for seasonal delights or to The Packhorse in Moulton for five-star AA dining. Top up younger fuel tanks at Nando’s, Carluccio’s or The Giggling Squid.
Orchard Hill Barn sleeps 16 in eight beautiful bedrooms. With five on the ground floor and no steps, this is an easy-access property.
Upstairs, the master bedroom sleeps three in a superking and daybed. It’s a luxurious en-suite with bath and shower. Downstairs, bedrooms one and two are kingsize with large en-suites. Open the doors to the garden for juice and a dip at breakfast.
Bedroom three is an en-suite superking with the ability to convert to singles thanks to zip and link. In the annex, bedroom one offers a superking or two singles, while bedroom two is a sofa-bed double. The annex has a bathroom with a bath and shower.
Upstairs, bedrooms one and two are superkings with zip-and-link capability. There’s a dedicated bathroom with shower for these rooms. Need a hairdryer? Pick one from four.
Whichever room you choose, you’ll sleep like a Suffolk forest log and wake re-energised, ready for a dip in the pool or just a coffee and a croissant on terra firma.