Having grown up in the neighbouring county of Norfolk, I’m quite familiar with the Suffolk towns and countryside. A short train ride from London, it’s basically prime weekend break material for me. Out east, you have the British coastline, more centrally you’ll find Ipswich and Stowmarket. And in the west of this eastern county, which is definitely my favourite part, there’s beautiful nature and quaint market towns to be explored.
If you’re thinking about taking a laid-back UK weekend break this summer, here are a few things to do that make West Suffolk an ideal destination…
*post written in collaboration with Bedford Lodge Hotel and spa*
Explore medieval history in Lavenham
Aka ‘England’s Best Preserved Medieval Village,’ the buildings here were made for the #omgb hashtag on Instagram. Okay, not literally – plenty of them were built 500 years or more before we all started fretting over algorithm changes and posting pics of our lunch – but it’s a lovely, quaint place to potter around nonetheless.
Treat yourself to a spa day
I’m a big fan of a treat yo’self spa day. And when you’re in the beautiful East Anglian countryside, it’s pretty easy to chill out. Especially if you’re soaking in a jacuzzi, having a massage or treating your skin to a facial. The Spa at Bedford Lodge Hotel offers the full spa experience, with hydrotherapy, treatments and plenty of relaxing spaces, in a gorgeous country house setting. The Good Spa Guide recognised it with it’s ‘5 Bubble’ rating – meaning you know you’ll be in good hands for a spa weekend.
Get close to nature in The Brecks
If you like your countryside to be a little bit ‘magical fairytale’, the Brecks on the Suffolk/Norfolk border will be your bag. Walk along forest-lined country paths, in the footsteps of Boudica. Or, if you fancy something a bit more challenging, climb through the treetops and whizz down zip lines at Go Ape!
Catch a show at Newmarket Nights
Here’s a fact for you – it was at Newmarket Nights that I saw Jedward and Olly Murs back when they were fresh off the X Factor wagon. And you thought I was just a rock and roll kinda gal, huh? Craig David, Paloma Faith, Plan B and Nile Rodgers all feature on this year’s programme of shows.
Explore the streets of Bury St Edmunds
The market town of Bury St. Edmunds dates back to the 10th century, and it’s got plenty of historical buildings and sites to explore. The cathedral is a stunning centrepoint, and the Abbey Gardens are home to the remains of the town’s former monastery. There are plenty of country pubs to have a pint or two in…such as…
Have a drink in ‘Britain’s smallest pub’
As in, an actual pub, not a trendy pop-up which only fits two people at a time as a PR stunt. The Nutshell in Bury St. Edmunds measures just 15ft by 7ft, and can fit around 10-15 drinkers in at any one time.
Shop Newmarket’s quaint boutiques
If you fancy a real ‘Great British High Street’ experience, Newmarket is your spot. This lovely little market town is home to boutique fashion shops in quaint timbered buildings, traditional silversmiths and the local butchers – where you can taste the much-lauded Newmarket Sausage.
Where to stay in West Suffolk
The Bedford Lodge Hotel is perfectly located for exploring West Suffolk. Barely 10 minutes walk from Newmarket’s main shops and pubs, it’s ideal for those wanting to get out of the hustle and bustle, but still be in walking distance of plenty of amenities. Originally a Georgian hunting lodge, it’s now a charming boutique-style hotel mixing modern style with historical charm – and a great place to stay if you’re heading to Newmarket race course. It’s the only 4 Red Star hotel in Suffolk, and home to the 2AA Rosette Squires restaurant – the best place to have a luxurious dinner after a busy day of exploring!
*images: Creative Commons & Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa