Review: Timeless Aldeburgh in Suffolk is perfect for a staycation
PUBLISHED: 12:41 24 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:42 24 June 2015
Â© Dominic Whiten
Looking out over the endless sea and spotless pebble beach, listening to the waves brushing against the shore, you could not feel further away from the hustle and bustle of London.
But the beautiful Suffolk seaside town Aldeburgh is just a two-hour drive from London, and less than three hours away on the train from Liverpool Street Station.
So if you’re looking for somewhere completely removed from the city, but do-able in a weekend, Suffolk is perfect.
“Everything is slower here,” jokes the receptionist at the Brudenell Hotel, in the Parade, Aldeburgh, as he waits for the card machine to kick into action as a couple check out.
And it is true – the town feels timeless. Everyone is friendly, relaxed and welcoming, and even the hotel staff seem genuinely delighted to be helping the guests.
The hotel is situated at the end of the parade, literally seconds from the Blue Flag beach, with its rooms and award-winning fish restaurant overlooking the sea.
The 44-room luxury 4* hotel has been a fixture of the front since the 1880s, and despite having been renovated in 2010 it retains its Victorian charm, partly thanks to the huge bay windows in the bedrooms.
Our deluxe room has a huge double bed and a sofa facing the bay window framing the sea view, while the bathroom has a free-standing bath and separate shower, typical of Aldeburgh’s unique brand of quaint luxury.
There are a few thoughtful touches too, such as two big glass bottles of water – still and sparkling - refilled each morning and a basket full of books about the local area.
Venturing out of the hotel, Aldeburgh has a number of fascinating attractions.
There’s the Martello Towers, a relic of the Napoleonic wars, which are undeniably impressive – although we cannot go inside as they are now a private holiday residence. Stood proudly looking out over the coast is a statue by Sir Anthony Gormley, the British sculptor behind the Angel of the North, which was erected in April and will remain at his post for 12 months.
At the other end of the town beach there is a 12-foot scallop shell sculpture, a lasting memorial to the composer Benjamin Britten, who lived in Aldeburgh with partner Pete until his death.
The pair’s house and studio, hidden away in Golf Lane just on the outskirts of the town, is definitely worth a visit, even if just to see the beautiful English country gardens.
And a short drive away there is Snape Maltings and the Benjamin Britten concert hall, a world-famous venue built inside an old maltings.
The annual Aldeburgh Music festival – which runs until this weekend – was started in 1948 by Britten, attracting innovative classical artists from across the globe as well as being a platform for the centre’s brilliant youth development programmes.
Outside of the flagship festival, there is a month-long Proms in August, boasting a whole range of performers ranging from classical to jazz and folk.
Alongside its cultural offerings, the little town is famous for its fish and chips – clear by the long queues pouring out of its three chippies during frying times.
And we are not disappointed – enjoying our Aldeburgh Fish and Chips battered cod with a pint of Adnams’ Ghost Ship in the beer garden of the White Hart pub.
Fresh and ethically-sourced fish is also one of the core values of the Brudenell’s own Seafood and Grill restaurant, with a menu packed with fresh local fish, seafood and free-range meats prepared head chef Tyler Torrance.
If you fancy something a bit different, the Brudenell’s sister hotel The White Lion - just a 15 minute walk along the beautiful seafront - also boasts a fantastic restaurant, the Brasserie Bleue.
The brasserie has a more back to basics approach, with the relaxed feel of a very good gastropub.
Our waiter recommends the fantastic onglet steak, slices of tender beef drizzled with a delicious sauce rich with loads of herbs and spices.