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Monday, 31 January 2011

Sluttery Travels: Belle Grove Barns, Suffolk

I’m off to Singapore on Tuesday, so in case my worst fears come true and I get pulled into the Asian equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle and never return, let me leave you with the very best holiday destination I know of – and hurrah! It’s in England!

Finding somewhere really special to rent for a holiday is a total nightmare – I know, because I spent two solid weeks staring at websites of chintz before I found Belle Grove Barns. It’s in Suffolk, wonderful partly because it’s flat, and wonderful because there is a horse named after it. Belle Grove is just outside Halesworth, and it’s the most staggeringly beautiful place I have ever stayed. Ever.

The barns have all been converted by Belle Grove's owners, Nick and Jo, who ran safaris in Africa for 30 years and have spent the last few combing places like Rajasthan and Morocco for beautiful jewel-like pieces to decorate with.

Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. And probably time to gorge yourself on all the pictures on Belle Grove's gallery as well. From the guestbooks to the cushions, curtains and throws, every bit of every barn feels like you've just fallen into Arabian Nights. And no chintz in sight.

As well as looking a million dollars, staying at Belle Grove feels like it too. Cake and booze treats await you on arrival, along with underfloor heating, hotel quality linens, little Lindt truffles around the bed and a kitchen to die for. My boyfriend and I have been coming here for two years now and adore it – although, if you bring a car, be mindful of the time of year as we got hilariously snowed in when we visited in November:

Accommodation ranges from the small two-person Stable to the fairly massive Upper Barn which can handle up to eight. Dogs and children are all allowed, and you can even get the key to a little beach hut in Southwold if you go in summer. If you go to the wonderful Latitude festival nearby, and have money to splash, this would be a truly splendid way to avoid the nightmare that is wandering around past ‘quirky’ tent pegs at 4am.

If you're not off to Latitude, there's plenty to check out in the surrounding area, but it's definitely worth taking a car as the nearest supermarket is in Halesworth, a few miles away.

Prices range from £575 - £1305 per week - keep an eye out for the amazing house Nick and Jo have built for themselves too, complete with their very own dragon nesting on the roof!


  1. This place looks absolutely amazing......

  2. Oh it is, it is! We're becoming a terrible pair of old people now as we'll certainly be going back there again this winter. Something about a nice roaring fire in the woodburner, shedloads of whiskey and ginger and a nice pie in the oven makes winter in England totally doable x

  3. Oh it's so pretty! I've just booked a weekend away in Devon, but if I'd seen this place first it would have been a tough call!

  4. No photo from the outside? It's a truly amazing house, think where would Jack Sparrow live? And Tony's home cured ham in the village store nearby is terrific. The nearest (a nice walk) pub is a free house. There is no need to visit the town although we wish you would. It's also close to train station and cycle routes. Sounds like I run the place but I don't, I'm just a local who likes what the owners have tried to do there.

  5. The only pic I've got of the dragon house was taken on my crapper-than-crap Blackberry Storm and I'm not inflicting it on anyone! My favourite tips from Halesworth were buying ALL THE MEAT from both butchers. Also, buying a jar of solid Avocaat from the Adnams brewery shop in Southwold and using it like lemon curd on crumpets. Mmm...boozy.

  6. Oh this is my neck of the woods! I live in Beccles, this is such a beautiful area of the country. If you come back you should make a trip out to Bungay, there are loads of shops there that would be right down domestic sluttery's street, plus the lovely Earsham Street Cafe. Beccles has a lovely delicatessen and nice posh pub/nice restaurant in The Swan and is just down the road. Or if you're after something more relaxed you could go to the best pub in the world, which is the Locks Inn at Geldeston; hire a canoe at Beccles, paddle up the river, have a nice lunch outside of the most lovely riverside pub ever, with the best pub dog in history, listen to some nice folk, ska, blues... (or if you're lucky, see Lockstock (a day long music festival, originally called Lockstock and 2 barrels of cider, if memory serves)... All this, plus Southwold, Thorpeness and the best fish and chip shop you'll ever go to in Aldeburgh, has convinced me that I am definitely living in the best part of the country. Absolutely beautiful. And you can go here:
    Rant over!

  7. That's definitely going on my list for potential homeymoon hideaways...

  8. Oh Kiri, those are wonderful tips, thank you for sharing them with us! We'll doubtless be back in the Gate House again this November, so we'll be sure to check out the Locks Inn as well. We haven't done Bungay or Beccles yet, but absolutely loved Southwold, and my boyfriend took us to the fish and chip shop in Aldeburgh that I think you're talking about ;)

  9. Eep! How romantic is this place. Fetch me the boyfriend immediately.


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