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Inside The Harper, Norfolk’s Boutique Bolthole

This laid-back country retreat is the perfect setting to explore the English coast.

By Irenie Forshaw |  January 20 2022


©The Harper

When the Cutmore-Scott family heard that a former glassblowing factory in the coastal village of Langham was being developed into a hotel, they were intrigued. “Three of my grandparents were from Norfolk, so it caught our attention,” recalls Sam Cutmore-Scott. “It was a new business direction for us – a hotel rather than a wedding venue – but it looked exciting and it was in the right place so we decided to go for it.” From here, The Harper was born.

Taking its name from Stanley Harper Cutmore (Sam’s grandfather), the family set to work transforming the blank canvas property into their very first hotel venture. But the arrival of the pandemic brought their plans for opening in the spring of 2020 to an abrupt halt.

“The silver lining is that we got locked down there and lived [in the hotel] for months,” says Cutmore-Scott. “Anyone that has opened a hotel knows that you always run out of time. We got given another 12 months which gave us an unusual opportunity to really take our time and make sure everything was how we wanted it to be.”

It was certainly worth the wait. When The Harper finally opened its doors, staycations in the UK were in full swing. Those looking for a quintessential English seaside escape in a quieter spot than that of the popular Cornish beach towns along the southwest coast need look no further than this boutique bolthole.

Inside the lobby at The Harper

From the moment you enter the cozy lobby you can’t help but feel relaxed / ©The Harper

Situated in the tiny village of Langham, just a couple of miles from the picturesque coastal village of Blakeney, the hotel is the perfect setting for exploring the north Norfolk coast. Driving through the winding country roads, past the traditional cobbled cottages and medieval churches, it’s hard to think of a more charming location for a rural retreat.

From the moment you enter the cozy lobby at The Harper, you can’t help but feel relaxed. Dotted with plush velvet sofas, rustic leather armchairs and modern art, the hotel is stylish yet decidedly laid-back with attentive but unobtrusive staff on-hand to ensure your stay is so comfortable you won’t want to leave.

[See also: New UK Hotels That Shouldn’t Slip Under Your Radar]

Stay

Bedroom inside The Harper

All of the rooms feature warm oak floors and modern four-poster beds / ©The Harper

With just 32 bedrooms (divided into Big, Bigger and Biggest categories) the residents-only hotel has an intimate feel. In keeping with the rest of the property, the interiors are decorated with eclectic furnishings and contemporary art chosen by the Cutmore-Scott family.

While each room is unique, all feature warm oak floors, a minibar stocked with handcrafted cocktails and locally brewed beer, and Irene Forte’s sustainable plant-derived skincare products. The 400-sq-ft ‘Biggest’ rooms are the most exclusive, boasting views over the courtyard, modern four-poster beds (topped with extra comfy Caspar mattresses), and spacious bathrooms, complete with monsoon showers and separate tubs.

With so many beaches to explore nearby, pet owners will be pleased to hear dog-friendly rooms are available, with four-legged friends also welcome in the bar and lounge.

Dine

Stanley's dining room at The Harper

In a nod to the building’s past Stanley’s features exposed brick walls and original wooden beams / ©The Harper

Interior of The Bar at The Harper hotel

After dinner head to The Bar to sample the hotel’s specialty cocktails / ©The Harper

Dining is a casual affair at The Harper. Upstairs you’ll find Stanley’s, the hotel’s dining room. In a nod to the building’s past, the space features exposed brick walls, original wooden beams and magnificent stained glass windows. You can also dine next door at Ivy’s (the cozy lounge complete with a log burning fire) or alfresco in the Yard (the fairy light decked courtyard at the heart of the hotel complete with fire pits and blankets).

As you would expect, the hotel’s culinary offerings make full use of locally sourced, seasonal produce. Helmed by Norfolk native head chef (and foraging enthusiast) Greg Baker, and executive chef, Scott Taylor, the ever-changing menu has been designed to showcase quality ingredients prepared on the charcoal grill.

Highlights include the succulent whole sea bass with Norfolk Peer new potatoes, Brancaster mussels and foraged local woodland mushrooms, and the indulgent Norfolk Estate 20oz ribeye (on the bone for two to share) with slow-cooked celeriac, greens and Norfolk beef dripping chips. There’s also a mouthwatering selection of homemade ice creams, sorbets and chocolates.

After dinner, head to The Bar to sample the hotel’s specialty cocktails. The Harper 75 (made with Norfolk Gin, lemon, elderflower and Champagne Palmer) is not to be missed. And if you’re looking for a tipple after hours, pay a visit to The Den next door where you can help yourself to wine from the dispenser, play some pool or watch a film on the projector.

Relax

The swimming pool at The Harper

Guests can book a private slot at the pool, hot tub and sauna / ©The Harper

When you’re not taking long walks along the coast or curling up with a book in front of the fire at Ivy’s, make sure to book in for a spa treatment. Once you’ve slipped into your fluffy robe, a therapist will collect you from your room and take you across the courtyard to the treatment rooms.

For some serious pampering, we recommend the Swedish massage. Created by skincare guru Irene Forte, the 55-minute full-body treatment uses her nourishing rosehip oil to calm the nervous system, leaving you feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated. You can also choose to have a personal consultation with one of the expert therapists and a treatment carefully tailored to your needs.

Afterward, head downstairs to the pool for a dip. Due to Covid, you’ll have to book your slot in advance, but this has its perks – you’ll have the entire space to yourself, including the hot tub, steam room and sauna. Guests have loved the privacy this offers, so much so that the Cutmore-Scott’s are considering making exclusive pool time a permanent fixture.

[See also: Best Luxury Spa Hotels in the UK]

Protect

The courtyard at the heart of The Harper

The fairy light decked Yard at the heart of the hotel complete with fire pits and blankets / ©The Harper

For Cutmore-Scott, opening a new business venture comes with a responsibility to “minimize the negative impact and maximize the positive impact” on the surrounding area. That’s why the family has made a conscious effort to recruit local talent and stock the kitchens with quality ingredients that are, where possible, sourced locally.

But The Harper’s sustainable credentials don’t stop there. The newly refurbished hotel is fitted with low-energy LED lighting throughout, while the property’s heating and hot water is powered entirely by biofuel pellets. What’s more, no gas is used throughout the building (even the kitchen is powered by electricity, wood or biofuel).

And for eco-conscious travelers planning on arriving by electric car, there’s good news. Outside, you’ll find PodPoint electric vehicle chargers and Tesla rapid chargers, so you won’t have to worry about getting stranded.

[See also: The Most Luxurious Eco-Friendly Hotels]

Explore

The cozy lounge complete with a log burning fire / ©The Harper

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this part of the North Norfolk coast is a joy to explore. All of the friendly staff live in the surrounding area and are happy to chat with guests and share their tips for where to visit.

The picturesque coastal village of Blakeney is within walking distance. Here you’ll find lots of traditional British country pubs, tearooms and art galleries. Nature lovers can take a boat out to Blakeney Point to see the local wildlife, including England’s largest colony of grey seals.

If you’re looking for a beautiful sandy beach, drive down the coast to Holkham and stroll to Wells-next-the-Sea to see the colorful beach huts. Walk back through the shady pine forest and stop off at Holkham Hall before you leave. The spectacular 18th-century Palladian mansion is set within rolling parkland and landscaped gardens – the ideal setting for whiling away a lazy afternoon.

And further afield, you’ll find some of Britain’s most impressive stately homes including Anne Boyelyn’s birthplace, Blickling Hall, the former home of England’s first prime minister, Houghton Hall, and Sandringham Estate, the countryside retreat of the Queen.

theharper.co.uk

[See also: Experience The Magic of Cornwall at The Idle Rocks, St. Mawes]

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