We love this part of Suffolk. The heart of this relatively undiscovered, rather subtle county, it's so rural, it can feel almost bypassed by modern life at times, yet you're less than two hours from London, close to the handsome market towns of Bury St Edmunds and Lavenham, and the roads that bring you here are plentiful and relatively efficient. All the more reason, then, to consider a stay at Earls Hall, which ticks all the boxes for rural tranquillity, is easy to reach, and is large enough for Londoners to live out their fantasies as landed gentry for a weekend or so. An originally 17th century house, with a handsome Georgian frontage and large gardens, Earls Hall is as comfortable as can be, and they claim it can sleep up to 19 people, so it's perfect for a full-on family celebration or landmark birthday. It's a lovely, lived-in old place, grand yet informal, with two large living rooms easily soaking up the guests, complete with a piano for Victorian musical evenings, and wood-burning stoves for the cosiness to go with them. There are six bedrooms in all – three doubles, a twin, a bunk-bedded room with space for three children, and a family room with two double beds. There are three bathrooms, so just about enough, plus a downstairs loo. The kitchen is well-equipped, with a vast cooker with two ovens (and a further stove in the utility room), but the thing we love the most is that you can out-Jamie Jamie with the ceramic pizza oven in the garden – which, incidentally, is huge, and has a stream, orchard and vegetable garden among many well-tended trees, shrubs and lawns. Oh, plus a tennis court, croquet and badminton. And if the weather plays up, you won't all end up killing each other either, because they've got a massive library of DVDs, wifi throughout and a table tennis table to work off excess energy. Trust us, you won't want to leave.
Off-season prices from £800 for a weekend, £1500 for a week.
Available all year.
Earls Hall, Cockfield, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP30 0JD
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