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Overview

It's pleasing to imagine that England's pre-eminent landscape artist, John Constable, would still recognise the higgledy-piggledy collection of timber-framed houses, the distant medieval churches and the rolling folds of Dedham Vale that surround this rustic-chic 16th-century hostelry.

Originally a quiet village watering hole it's now a classy boutique inn with lovingly nurtured gardens, modern British food, a top-drawer wine list, and stylishly refurbished rooms with serene pastoral views. Food is taken seriously here, breakfast is a top shout and there are traditional roasts for all the family on Sundays. Inside the rambling, beamed bar and dining areas, you'll find a glass-fronted wine shop - an oenophile's haven stacked with terrific bottles from across the globe.

Behind the inn there's a stunning dining terrace with verdant flower borders, big planters and posh brollies, and lovely grounds beyond with a summer dining tipi and rolling Constable-country views.

Rooms from

Doubles: £150


Good to know

  • All major credit cards accepted
  • Disabled access
  • Alfresco dining
  • Parking available

Scenic and serene
Nestled in the sleepy village of Stoke-by-Nayland, this is the perfect serene spot from which to embrace quiet village life.

Waves and water
The Suffolk coast is a must if you enjoy big skies and sea breezes. North of Harwich the Suffolk Coast Path runs for 50 miles between Felixstowe and Lowestoft and takes in a variety of sea wall stretches, marsh, heath and foreshore.

Rooms

Set in a smart boutique annexe (The Folly) with serene rural views, the eleven appealing modern bedrooms are divided into four types - Good Rooms, Better Rooms, Even Better Rooms, Best Room - although space and comfort are key themes.

Essentials such as king-size beds, stylish modern furnishings and soothing colours are standard throughout, while the Better and Best rooms raise the luxury level to super-kingsize, with extra space and larger bathrooms - some including a separate bath and walk-in shower.

Upstairs rooms are all about rustic country-house chic, while ground-floor rooms are more cool and contemporary with the bonus of French windows leading out to the grounds and little terrace areas for admiring the views.

Rooms have been completely refurbished (see photos) and will be revealed on 17th May, so watch this space for more detail and photos.

Restaurant & bar

The produce-led, wine-friendly menu evolves every few weeks to make the most of the abundant fresh seasonal produce available locally. The cooking style here is rich, generous and indulgent - a comforting mix of reworked British favourites and exciting global flavours tailored to all tastes.

Keep an eye out for the 'catch of the day' on the blackboard, which puts the emphasis on fresh fish from the East Coast boats - the Crown's beer-battered haddock and chips is a popular stalwart, but the choice extends to other more sophisticated dishes - pan-fried halibut, scallop, shallot, truffle, pommes purée, romanesco, chive and prawn butter. Steaks and game from the local estate please the carnivores, and there are delicious options for vegetarians as well.

The lengthy wine list is a joy - properly thought-out and intelligibly presented. There are 35 selections by the glass if you simply want to slake your thirst, although the full line-up runs to around 300 bins - ideal if you fancy something out the ordinary with your dinner.

Things to do

Comprising of a vast patchwork of fields and hedgerows, Constable Country is one of the best areas for exploring and you can imagine the artist John Constable out and about on foot in search of inspiration. Walk from East Bergholt to Flatford Mill or stroll the pretty water meadows at Sudbury. At Flatford, you can stand in the very same spot that Constable painted one of his iconic views. Flatford Mill has a small exhibition that provides an insight into the man and his awe-inspiring talents for capturing detail and atmosphere.

Take to the skies and see the country from the air! Nearby Wizard Balloons at Bury St Edmunds offers balloon rides in small, intimate groups from the launch site at Nowton Park, with the main flying season being from March to October.

With its ancient timbers and crooked lines, Lavenham Guildhall is one of many notable buildings in the picturesque medieval village of Lavenham. Inside, you'll find a museum devoted to the history of Lavenham, with fascinating displays depicting 500 years of farming and industry.

Getting here

Directions

Nearest train station: Colchester
Taxi from station: 18min
Drive: Long Melford 22min; Ipswich 27min

Address

Stoke by Nayland, Colchester, Suffolk CO6 4SE

Prices & availability