By Lulu’s Luxury Lifestyle & Travel

Saxmundham is a small market town located in Suffolk, England. It has a rich history dating back to the medieval period. The town was mentioned in the Domesday Book of  1086 and was an important centre for trade and agriculture. In the 19th century, Saxmundham became a hub for the railway industry, constructing a railway station that connected it to other parts of the country. Today, Saxmundham retains its historic charm with several notable buildings, including the Grade I listed St John’s Church and the Victorian-era Market Hall. It also serves as a gateway to the beautiful Suffolk coast and countryside.

Finally, a small boutique hotel with charm and personal service has arrived on the Suffolk coast in the market town of Saxmundham. The Bell Hotel was rebuilt after the building burnt down in 1830 in 1842-3 and is the last coaching inn to be built in England. This dog-friendly (in the bar) Suffolk hotel has plenty of history; in the 1750s, landlord J Southwell Jr was hanged after being caught ‘in flagrant’ with a hotel guest, and it was George II’s inn of choice when travelling back from Lowestoft in 1737.

Recently refurbished the hotel has ten rooms (more to follow) which are modern and comfortable, each named after a local village or town. I stayed in Southwold, a large room with a huge en-suite bathroom, a shower big enough for two, and a long roll-top bath. A Nespresso machine and Hildon water come as standard, with the mini fridge hidden away in the cupboard. The rooms have TVs, but I don’t think they’re necessary though I know many will, and they’re hard to miss as they are huge and on the wall opposite the bed. The bed in Southwold is enormous and set with extra large down pillows and crisp bedlinen. I had one of the best night sleeps I’ve had in a long time, perhaps partly due to the delicious and numerous cocktails I enjoyed in the bar.

The panelled bar serves a great selection of local beers and ciders and a good selection of cocktails. You can prop up the bar here, as it’s open to residents 24/7. The bar staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and we put them to the test by asking for a cocktail that wasn’t on the menu, and they delivered. Dogs are welcome in the bar, with water and snacks on tap. The terrace is now up and running at the back of the hotel and is a small but cute little sun trap.

The restaurant at The Bell is small but atmospheric, and the food is excellent with a varied menu including some British favourites and the signature burger (plump and juicy) and (in my book) obligatory sticky toffee pudding (perfectly moist). It was great and rare to see a cheese plate on the menu that championed local cheeses; the chef and his team work their magic in the kitchen, enlisted some of Suffolk’s best suppliers, and even brought home-grown produce to the table. Service is friendly, perhaps a little effusive. Breakfast includes a generous buffet with local Harvey & Co bread and pastries, muesli, granola, and fresh fruit salad. The cooked menu features a fabulous Full English breakfast, vegetarian options, and breakfast muffins.

Why stay at The Bell?

Large, comfy rooms, excellent service and good food. The Bell has a cosy, modern-day Inn vibe and is a great option for exploring the Suffolk coast. If you’re after a country house hotel experience, this isn’t it; there are just rooms, a restaurant and a bar. Explore the area; there’s plenty to do and see, including Aldeburgh, Southwold, Snape Maltings, Sutton Hoo and Woodbridge. Perfect for a weekend away in Suffolk and one of the best places to stay on the Suffolk coast.

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