The Brisley Bell
Rescued from permanent closure by partners Marcus Seaman and Amelia Nicholson in 2015, The Brisley Bell is a proper village pub, but one that just happens to serve tremendously good food and also has some very comfortable guest rooms. Our kind of place in other words. Marcus and Amelia were regulars at The Bell in their late teens/early 20s; when it closed in 2013, they bought the place, with a view to making it into their perfect pub. Who hasn't dreamed of doing that? They added two new dining rooms and an outside terrace, created a garden and rebuilt the flint barns next door to serve as guest rooms. But essentially they left it as a pub, with the result that it is as welcoming and comfortable a country inn as as you'll find anywhere. (It is not, they are keen to emphasise, a hotel or a restaurant!)
There are six rooms in all, each named after slang Norfolk place-names (eg ‘Windum’, meaning ‘Wymondham’). They’re spacious and well-proportioned, and have decent wifi, smart TVs, tea and coffee-making facilities, complimentary mineral water and homemade shortbread and sloe gin, Roberts radios and underfloor heating. Bathrooms are slick and contemporary and come with toiletries: two have baths, two showers, and two have freestanding baths in the rooms. Each room is fairly similar in style but with a bit of individual character endowed by former antique dealer Amelia's well-chosen bits of classic furniture. Two of the rooms are dog-friendly, one has full disabled access, and although they don't have any rooms specifically for families, they are easily spacious enough to fit in a cot or z-bed.
Breakfast is a buffet plus a decent Full English and is served in the Green Room at the front of the pub. You can eat lunch and dinner here too, as well as in the front bar of the pub or the book-lined Garden Room at the back, which looks out over a covered patio and garden. The moderately priced, meat-led menu changes daily, and French chef Hervé specialises in high-quality country cooking that makes the most of meat from local estates and fish and seafood from the north coast, with the odd nod to the French-Caribbean.
As for location, you're a few miles from the market town of Dereham so couldn’t be much closer to the centre of Norfolk than Brisley, which makes a great base for the relatively undiscovered nearby Brecks, or even the north coast; you're also only half an hour from Norwich. The pub itself overlooks Brisley’s large village green, so there’s a real sense of being in the country – not least on a dark winter night when the sound of people drinking, eating and enjoying themselves penetrates the darkness outside. At times like this, as you amble into the bar for a pint or settle down at your table for dinner, you'll feel glad you chose to stay at the Brisley Bell.
RoomsSix double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.
Double rooms with breakfast from from £88 a night in low season to £192 a night in high season.
Opening TimesOpen Tuesday to Sundays throughout the year and sometimes on Mondays during school and bank holidays – check the website.
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