On the edge of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding National Beauty, Milsoms Kesgrave Hall is located in a glorious part of the Suffolk countryside. Accessed via a long drive and enclosed by mature trees, you quickly feel a world away from the nearby city of Ipswich and the A12 that whisks you there. Laura Davis and her mini schnauzer, Mahler, went along for an overnight stay to find out whether it was just as relaxing for the dogs as it looked for the humans.
The hotel grounds cover 38 acres, ranging from manicured lawns to sprawling woodland, and were a sniffer’s paradise for Mahler. We were told that he could go anywhere but weren’t furnished with any specific route details, so we did end up in a slightly boggy mess as we adventured into the woods. Wellies would be welcome in particularly damp spells, but you’ll be fine in trainers if you stick to the paths.
The stream running through the grounds, which eventually joins the River Fynn, provided a welcome paddle and refreshing drink for my excitable pup.
The rooms are divided between those in the main house and those in the courtyard outbuildings, which are made available to dogs. From there, we had direct access to the grounds and Mahler had a prime position to keep an eye on goings-on. It was spacious and cool in the sweltering August heatwave, which was critical for my long-haired pup, and, with two sofas and ample space to move around, offered both Mahler and me opportunities to rest in our favourite spots.
The decor was classic with a countryside twist, with artwork harking to the region’s wildlife and rustic tones in the soft furnishings. I enjoyed the quality local magazines provided in our room, particularly as we were going on to stay longer in Suffolk, and made use of the complimentary soft drinks, tea and coffee, and fast WiFi. If, like me, you often work on the move, it was well set up for some productive working time after blowing away the cobwebs with an early morning dog walk and Aromatherapy Associates shower.
PET FRIENDLY PERKS
Mahler was given a very warm welcome by the staff (and greeted them in his usual manner, with the schnauzer bark) and encouraged into the lounge and onto the terrace, but we were disappointed that he was not offered anything that would have made his day, like treats, and some bowls for his food and water.
FOOD AND DRINK
I left Mahler in the room for some solo dinner time after he’d had a long day on his legs and I was looking forward to a glass of wine, some delicious food and the glorious view, although he was welcome to join me.
The modern European menu included some treats that were familiar to me from my stays in Suffolk, such as Dedham Vale steak and Sutton Hoo chicken breast, and I applaud the restaurant for keenly using local ingredients. I opted for one of the daily specials – a portobello mushroom stuffed with ricotta and spinach, and topped with prosciutto. This was warm luxury on a plate. For main I had the Sutton Hoo chicken breast, parmesan and thyme risotto, which was cooked the way risottos should be to leave them with a delicious pudding consistency and a touch of bite. I was sated after both of those (and the delicious glass of chilled white wine) but I couldn’t possibly say whether I ate the complimentary biscuits in the room before bed.
Mahler joined me for an after-dinner drink on the terrace as the sun went down and we both appreciated the quiet and the space. If you’re the owner of a reactive dog, you’ll appreciate those, too.
Breakfast was just as delicious as dinner, and very welcome after our morning romp through the grounds. There was plenty of choice in continental options – the granola I opted for was hearty and crunchy – and the hot menu was cooked to order. I went for poached eggs, mushrooms and truffle hollandaise on a toasted muffin and, oh my, if you are as much of a truffle fan as I am then this was perfection.
WHAT TO BRING
If, like me, you swing wildly between stylish city ensemble and North Face necessities for dog walking you’ll be right at home here. Although smart, it makes no pretensions to snootiness.
You’ll need to bring all the usual items your dog uses and their food, as the hotel doesn’t supply these. And don’t forget those wellies if you’re travelling in the wetter months.
WHEN TO GO
As we visited in August and are early risers, we had the joy of an uninterrupted walk in the grounds in the ethereal morning light, which was truly special, and could enjoy sitting out on the terrace in the glorious evening sunshine. We’d love to go back in autumn to see the colours in the trees and enjoy a warming glass of something in front of the fire in the lounge.
“I loved being able to practise my very best schnauzer alert skills from my vantage point in the room, just in case one of the rabbits tried to make its way through the front door. The carpet felt very nice on my tired paws, but where were the treats? I did ‘sit’ and everything.”
Have you visited Milsom Kesgrave Hall or any other great dog friendly hotels in Suffolk? Tell us about it in the comments below.