The Crown and Castle is a perfectly positioned boutique dog friendly hotel in Suffolk. Described as a restaurant with 21 comfortable rooms, the Crown and Castle is a doggy paradise and food-lovers dream, as StyleTails’ Travel Editor Caroline Cullern and her two dogs Kipper and Rudi discovered on a recent dog friendly holiday.
The hotel is co-owned by Ruth Watson of Hotel Inspector and Country House Rescue fame, and she has certainly put her hotel expertise to good use at the Crown and Castle. The hotel is set in the pretty Suffolk village of Orford, with the name being drawn from the medieval castle that is just a tail wag away. The hotel is split between the main building, which houses the fantastic restaurant and some of the rooms, outbuildings where the main reception is based and the “garden” rooms – a single storey block where the dog friendly rooms are to be found. Upon arrival we received an extremely warm welcome from Ruth and co-owner Tim. After a fuss of the pooches was made, we were shown to our room – the furthest garden room in the longhouse.
There are a range of rooms, but the dog friendly ones are situated in the external outbuilding, just behind the main hotel and reception. We were based in the room furthest away from the main building. This suited us well with two dogs, as fear of disrupting fellow guests was at a minimum! Our room, like all of the other garden rooms came complete with its own entrance off of the small car park – which was super handy for packing and unpacking dog beds and the usual doggy paraphernalia, and also had its own semi-private terrace to the rear.
Whilst the weather wasn’t such that we could sit outside in the sunshine during our stay, it was wonderful to have a space just outside to take the dogs for a sniff and to perform their nightly business without having to take them through a hotel or disturb other guests. Dogs aren’t allowed off lead in the garden as it does back onto all of the other garden rooms, however, the hotel have thoughtfully provided dog ties to allow pooches freedom to enjoy the garden without fear that they might accidentally wander into someone else’s room.
Simply but tastefully furnished with an ultra-comfy super king-size bed, digital television, Freeview channels, tea and coffee-making facilities and a lovely en-suite bathroom. Whilst the room was stylish, it also felt functional enough for dogs to stay in – no beige carpets in sight!
PET FRIENDLY PERKS
Whilst many hotels claim to be dog friendly, the Crown and Castle truly does embrace their canine chums – which is why they have got the pet friendly seal of approval in the StyleTails Luxe Pet Guide.
Dog towels and homemade cheese biscuits awaited the dogs in the room, and there was a huge throw covering the super king-sized bed, as Ruth said “should they like to sleep on the bed”. This was a really refreshing change from many hotels that ask for dogs to not go on the furniture, which if your dogs are like mine is near impossible!
The Crown and Castle allows two well-behaved dogs over six months old per room by prior arrangement in five of the garden rooms. The biggest perk is the setting with the rooms backing onto the pretty shared garden and the nearby walks, and extremely warm welcome from the hotel staff. There is also a hose at the main reception should your pooch get super muddy on their walk, and one bookable dog friendly table in the restaurant. Hounds are also allowed in the bar area.
FOOD & DRINK
The Crown and Castle pride themselves on their restaurant, and having enjoyed some of the best food we have consumed in a long time, it is easy to see why they have been awarded 2 AA rosettes and a plethora of praise. The warm interior almost has a pub-esque feel it, which no doubt calls upon its previous life as an inn, though elevated to a much more fine-dining experience, but without any of the pretension.
Ruth was on hand as the perfect hostess – ensuring guests had all they needed and offering a warm welcome. We opted to dine pooch-free for the evening, having worn them out with a long walk beforehand, however, Ruth kindly offered to set up a table in the lounge area should we decide that we wanted them to join us.
The menu makes the most of the wonderful local and seasonal produce in the area – in fact, the village of Orford itself seems to be a bit of a foodie destination, with an artisan bakery and Oyster restaurant in close proximity. As a result, the evening a la carte menu often changes throughout the week depending on what produce is best, though always makes the most of the fresh seafood and lovely local meats.
I opted for the beef shin ragu with homemade pasta to start, which was absolutely delicious, whilst my dining companion made the most of the local Oysters on offer, which by all accounts were super fresh and highly tasty. Mains saw us wolf down Dingley Dell slow-roasted pork belly and the Orford-landed skate – both of which were beautifully presented and resulted in completely empty plates. For guests on an overnight package two courses from the a la carte menu is included in the price, with an additional course being charged at a flat rate of £8, which given the quality of the food we felt was extremely reasonable – so much so that we couldn’t resist and finished our meal on a huge serving of a rhubarb sundae – eton mess style, with braised rhubarb, meringue, cream and ice cream.
My companion ordered the Neal’s Yard seasonal cheese board – served on a giant crisp bread, as well as candied walnuts and homemade chutney. All in all, the meal was pretty much faultless and the service was excellent. If you do want to dine with your dog just let the restaurant know ahead of time and they will book you into the dog friendly table.
Breakfast also comes included in your room rate and again saw no complaints from us. Smoked salmon and poached eggs, a full English breakfast, a bowl of fresh fruit, pastries, toast, fresh fruit juice and steaming pots of coffee adorned our table . What we really struck us was the care and attention that goes into their dining experience – every element seems to have been really considered and everything locally-sourced where possible.
WHAT TO BRING
Bring your dog’s bed and food with you. Dog towels, a few poo bags and some homemade treats are all provided. There is also a tap outside the main building if your dog has jumped in a few muddy puddles, and if you need more towels just ask at reception. There is also a handy cover on the bed if your dog likes to sleep on there and prevents muddy paw prints on the white sheets! Parking is just outside your room, which makes it extremely easy for carrying your dog’s things in and out.
WHAT TO DO
Having never heard of Orford we didn’t know what to expect, but the pretty village was a pleasant surprise for both dogs and humans. Take a stroll down to the quay and watch the boats bring in the catch of the day, there is even a little beach where dogs can have a run around. Take a walk along the River Alde or head over to the shingle spit at Orford Ness. If you prefer country walks, the hotel staff are happy to provide maps and suggestions of local dog walks in the area. Rendlesham Forest is around 15 minutes by car and also provides an excellent dog-walking destination, with various trails and routes to follow – including a UFO sightings trail!
WHEN TO GO
With plenty of country, forest and river walks in the area, there is enough to keep hounds occupied year-round. The Crown and Castle would be delightful in summer, where the semi-private terrace off of the dog-friendly rooms would be a pretty spot to while away the evening, whilst the roaring log fires in the bar and restaurant are a cosy relief on a wintery night.
KIPPER’S AND RUDI’S VERDICT
“Ruth and Tim gave us a warm doggy welcome when we arrived and made us feel like poochy royalty. The cheesy biscuits in our room were top-notch and we were even allowed to snooze on the bed to our heart’s content – what more could a dog want?!”.
PRICES & BOOKING
Double rooms at the Crown and Castle start at £260 for a stay in a dog friendly garden room, dogs are charged at a supplement of £10 per dog, per night. Room rates include a two-course dinner from the a la carte menu as well as breakfast. To book visit crownandcastle.co.uk or call 01394 450 205.