Lillie Langtry, mistress to King Edward VII, often visited the nearby celebrity fleshpot The Gunton Arms. Today, you too will be seduced – by the hauntingly beautiful North Norfolk coast and the serenity and seclusion of Wildflower Barns, sleeping 14 – plus 12 more in other on-site barns – family, friends, hens or corporates, plus dogs.
If Lillie had been around today, her love of the good life – taking in Jersey, Monte Carlo, and a tryst with Oscar Wilde at London’s Cadogan Hotel – would undoubtedly have led her to Wildflower Barns. She’d have loved the indoor saltwater pool and the option to put up her society friends in three further barns on site.
The grown-up stuff excels here, too: cook in the handcrafted kitchen and chinwag as you chop around the sit-up bar area. Or don’t: pro chefs are on hand for one-off celebrations or fully catered breaks. Sleep in luxury linens and bag the right room to enjoy freestanding baths and French patio doors. Lillie would approve.
Park up to six cars on the gravelled driveway of The Granary, or eleven if taking the entire estate. Follow the pathway to the property entrance through a fully enclosed garden. Explore two acres of rural heaven. Slide out through the terrace doors and sit out in the courtyard in the sunshine with meaty treats from The Butcher’s Joint in Cromer sizzling on the coal barbecue.
Larger groups get to bubble away in the one of the cottage’s hot tubs under the sunny skies or by starlight.
Life here revolves around sociable communal areas and smaller breakout spots in which to recharge the social battery over a good book or canned music. There are spaces for kids, too: a playroom complete with toys, books and a play tent. Pick from three TVs and bring your streaming passwords for movies in front of the cosy fires.
The hero of the hour here, though, is the ten-metre saltwater indoor heated pool. Towel off and another type of pool awaits: watch the kids play a few frames on the table while you sit poolside with a Prosecco.
Rip it up in the bespoke, handmade kitchen with some magical MasterChef stuff, or call in the pros instead while you take a dip in the pool. We won’t judge. Back to Your Place are on hand for pick and collect, pick and deliver, or a full service on site across buffets, barbecues, hog roasts, canapes and even Christmas dinners.
Eat around the long table with room for 16 or out in the courtyard sunshine with the coal barbecue offering up the smoky scent of meats from The Butcher’s Joint. Stock up the American-style fridge/freezer from the big supermarkets in Cromer, deli delights from The Draft Bakery and wine from The Gangway.
Celebrate the authentic taste of Thailand with takeaways from Bann Thai in Cromer, or delicious Punjabi and Indian fare from The Indian on the Cliff. Head out to pubs such as (where else?) The Gunton Arms for a shooting-party vibe, celeb-spotting and hearty, meaty meals. Pan-fried sea trout fillet with sea beet and Portland cockles, maybe?
Pop to The Suffield Arms for Mediterranean fare and tapas, including patatas bravas and olive and feta Tabbouleh salad. Try Rocky Bottoms for a breezy, seaside feel and a nice line in crab salads and lobster salads. Or try the tasting menu at Morston Hall or the rosemary-crusted rack of Norfolk lamb at The Grove.
Close to the North Norfolk coast and wrapped in the serenity and solitude of two acres of landscaped gardens, you’ll sleep like a fenland log. Wildflower Barns sleeps 14 in six bedrooms, but Hawthorne, Rainbow and Blackberry cottages each sleep four more with the bubbly bonus of a hot tub each.
The master bedroom sleeps four in a kingsize with two singles. A walk-in wardrobe, TV and private en-suite make for a comfortable stay. The Stable room offers a kingsize and French doors that lead to the patio. Bedroom three is a twin with TV and bathroom shared with The Stable and the Dining bedroom is an en-suite double.
Soho and Rosehip bedrooms are ground-floor superkings that convert to twins and offer French-door access to the courtyard. En-suite Blackberry provides a kingsize and more French doors, while Rainbow 1 is a double, sharing a bathroom with Rainbow 2, a twin. Hawthorne 1 is a double sharing a bathroom with Hawthorne 2, a twin.
Promise kids a beach holiday and you’ve got them. Offer them wide-open spaces and room to run with the family dogs and the deal is done. Factor in a big country house with room for every member of the family and more, plus a few tantalising toys, and they’ll carry the memories forever.
Those toys start with the saltwater pool. It’s a spacious, indoor affair, heated and host to plenty a friendly game of water polo or just an excited lazy afternoon’s swimming and splashing. Dry off and play a few games of pool on the waterside table while the grown-ups chill with a drink on the poolside chairs.
Elsewhere, there’s a nursery with toys, a play tent and books, and even a kids’ library to explore. Eat out in the sunshine with burgers and bangers from the coal barbecue. And if you’ve booked one of the three on-site cottages, older kids can end each day staring at stars from a hot tub.
Catch movies and matches – don’t forget your passwords – on the three living-area TVs or bag one of four bedrooms with tellies. Stream and surf on the 50mbps BT Wi-Fi, batter mum and dad on the board games, and connect to Spotify for your holiday soundtrack with the HEOS speaker.