With its wonderfully traditional seaside towns and some of England’s prettiest villages, Suffolk is one of our favourite weekend escapes. The foodie revolution that has evolved here over the past decade has changed the heritage coast for the better, with plenty of really good places to eat and a new wave of chic pubs with rooms and cool rentals too. Here are some of our favourite places.
Café: Pump Street Bakery, 1 Pump Street, Orford IP12 2LZ (www.pumpstreetbakery.co.uk)
The Iken sourdough is amazing, the almond croissants a revelation and unsurprisingly there is always a queue and the door at this beautifully designed bakery and café on the market square in this utterly charming village. The bread and excellent pastries are also available at Snape Maltings and via Cedric the travelling Citroen van.
Café: Two Magpies Bakery, 88 High Street, Southwold, IP18 6DP ( www.twomagpiesbakery.co.uk)
You wait years for a decent bakery and then two come along at once. Like the Pump Street Bakery, this newish shop in Southwold has quickly gained cult status for its excellent loaves, fabulous cakes and pastries and always-packed café. The bacon sandwich here, served on Magpie white with a home-made ketchup, is arguably the best bacon sandwich in England.
Shop & Holiday Apartments: Snape Maltings, Bridge Road, Snape, IP17 1SR (www.snapemaltings.co.uk)
There are many brilliant things about the collection of shops and cafes at Snape Maltings: the gorgeously edited home store and kitchen shop, the second outpost of the Pump Street bakery and the cute kids store, Little Rascals. There’s also a highly addictive and vast collection of vintage cutlery at the antique shop here. But it’s also a really lovely place to stay with well designed and equipped apartments and houses – some with fabulous views over the reed beds towards Iken. And of course this is the home of the Aldeburgh festival too.
Pub & Rooms: The Crown, The Street, Westleton IP17 3AD (www.westletoncrown.co.uk)
This beautiful pub in one of Suffolk’s quintessential country villages dates back to the 12th century and not only does great food but also has chic, simple rooms either in the main building or in small barn-style buildings outside.
Pub & Rooms: The Anchor, The Street, Walberswick IP18 6UA (www.anchoratwalberswick.com)
Good gastro pub food with a genuine emphasis on fantastic local produce as well as cedar cabins and rooms that are a stone’s throw from the glorious beach and sandy dunes of this pretty village.
Rental House: The Dune House, Thorpeness (www.living-architecture.co.uk)
This stunning house (part of the Living Architecture group) sleeps 9 and gets booked up almost as soon as the year begins – and it’s easy to see why: standing on the dunes at Thorpeness, a mile or so from Aldeburgh the Jarmund/Vigsnaes and RIBA award-winning house has direct access onto the beach, spectacular sea views as well as beautiful, cool and calming Scandi interiors.
Originally created in the 1800s as the kitchen garden for nearby Benhall Lodge, the gorgeous Walled Garden nursery has been lovingly remodelled and revitalised by the current owners over the past three decades. It’s a tranquil spot to browse the vast selection of shrubs, climbers, perennials and vegetables. There’s a big green house full of clay pots too. Up the A12 at Wenhaston you’ll find the inspiring collection of plants at Woottens which has a particular specialism in bearded irises, auriculas and pelargoniums.
Cinema: The Electric Picture Palace, Blackmill Road, Southwold (07815 769565)
This magical 68 seat cinema is a tiny gem; based on the Edwardian style of the original cinema opened in Southwold in 1912. You have to sign up to the Southwold Film Society newsletter to receive seasonal programmes and tickets sell like hot cakes.
Restaurant: Aldeburgh Fish & Chips, 226 High Street, Aldeburgh, IP15 5DB
You can get a take-away for the beach or eat in at the two branches of Aldeburgh’s world-famous fish and chip shop. In the summer queues can stretch for 20 or 30 yards on busy weekends but the world-class cod and chips is well worth the wait.