The Bildeston Crown
This 15th-century coaching inn has been something of a local landmark for centuries, and a foodie destination for well over a decade. In its day Bildeston was one of the wealthy Suffolk wool towns, and although this is hard to discern in what is nowadays a peaceful village in one of the quieter corners of Suffolk, its comfortable upstairs rooms and excellent food mean the tradition continues to this day.
The Bildeston Crown has 12 guest rooms (plus a single room which they don't really advertise), and as you might expect in a building of this vintage, they come in all shapes, sizes and designs – an individuality that the owners have decided to emphasise with a variety of decorative styles from traditional to contemporary. The rooms come in three categories – Classic, Executive and Luxury – and the main difference between each is the size of the room, the bed and the bathroom – all have baths but three rooms have separate walk-in showers as well. All the rooms have big comfy beds, tea-and coffee-making facilities, complimentary water, Freeview TVs and wifi throughout – and, unusually, there's also a lift, so they are all – to that extent at least – accessible if you have trouble with stairs.
The Bildeston Crown is run by Chris and Hayley Lee – chef and front-of-house respectively – who set up the place originally as manager and head chef and now own the business. It's still theoretically a place to drink, and has two bars where you can do just that. But on busy nights these inevitably get taken over by diners and it's really more a restaurant than a pub these days. One of the nice things about it is that it can really be as informal or as much of a special occasion as you like. They serve the same menu in the bar and the slightly more formal restaurant, and you can choose between an excellent selection of ‘classics’ – and the more seasonal, and more refined ‘select’ menu. They do an excellent value set lunch or if you really want push the boat out go for the seven-course tasting menu at £80 a head.
All in all it's really the perfect place to enjoy a weekend break, with comfy rooms, great food – and, with Lavenham and Long Melford just a short drive away, the chance to explore this quiet, picturesque and historic part of Suffolk.
12 double rooms plus one single.
Double rooms cost from £100 a night, including a really good breakfast.
Open all year.
The Crown is bang in the middle of Bildeston on the B1115, about 10 minutes' drive from Hadleigh and around 6 miles from Lavenham.
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