The oldest place to stay in what is probably Suffolk's most historic town, Lavenham Priory is frankly like nowhere you have ever stayed in before. At its core a 13th-century timbered building whose most recent wing was added in the 16th century, it's an ancient building and feels like one, lovingly and sensitively preserved over the years, not least by by the current owners Jonathan and Ruby, who have lavished a lot of attention on what clearly is a project close to their hearts. The building is special, no question – a timbered gem in a town full of such places, and it's full of fascinating details: check out the candle burns on the doors left from medieval prayer sessions, and ask Jonathan and Ruby for a peek into their magnificent living room, complete with vast fireplace and mummified rat to ward off evil spirits.
As for the accommodation, it's very flexible, with three three en-suite double bedrooms on the first floor, the Priory Chamber on two levels, which has its own entrance and ground floor kitchenette and sitting area plus a cosy upstairs bedroom with four-poster. One of the rooms can connect to the Priory Chamber to make the ‘Priory Wing’ – a good option for a family or 2 couples. Finally there is also the Dairy Wing on the far side of the building, which is basically a self-contained three-bedroom cottage. All of the rooms make the most of the historic building while also being very comfortable and up-to-date – quite a feat in a house like this; they all have Freeview TVs, tea-and coffee-making facilities and White Company toiletries; the two rooms at the front have walk-in-showers and separate baths, while the room at the back, which has a lovely view of the garden, just has a shower. They provide a complimentary welcome hamper which includes water, tea, coffee, sugar, milk, bread, butter, preserves, breakfast cereals and fresh fruit, or they will give you a voucher for breakfast at one of the cafés on the high street if you want a hot breakfast – plus of course in the Priory Chamber and Dairy Wing you can make your own. There’s also the excellent and very well-priced Number 10 Wine Bar & Kitchen across the road, an equally historic building which effectively serves as the Lavenham Priory bar and dining room – and its overflow accommodation when necessary (their Crown Post Suite is lovely).
Basically Lavenham Priory is a luxury B&B, but with the Priory Chamber and Dairy Wing it can be a viable self-catering option too, for families as well as for couples, and they even accept well-behaved dogs. It's got a lovely garden, so is a lovely and a very secluded place to spend some time while still being bang in the centre of Lavenham; Jonathan and Ruby are keen share the delights of the town if you so wish, but just as ready to leave you alone if that’s what you prefer. All in all it's perhaps the perfect place for tired Londoners to escape their cares for a weekend, do a country, amble about this historic town, do a country walk or two and eat some good food. Tempted?
The 3 en-suite double rooms cost £195 for 1 night, £325 for 2 nights. The 1-bedroom Priory Chamber costs £375 for 2 nights, 2-bedroom Priory Wing £575 for 2 nights; 3-bedroom Dairy Wing costs £565 for 2 nights. There's a minimum two-night stay most of the time but worth asking.
Opening TimesOpen all year.
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