The White Horse Pub with rooms in Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk

Prices from:
£100 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Slick seaside inn
  • Stunning saltmarsh views
  • Decked terrace – arrive early
  • Innovative menus favouring seafood
  • Sea-breezy modern bedrooms
  • Book Room at the Top – for the view
  • Perfect for walkers and twitchers
  • Coast Path at bottom of the garden

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Overview

The White Horse Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, PE31 8BY

The personal touch

The North Norfolk coast is knotted together with flinty villages anchored by top-notch inns, and The White Horse is one of the very best: the Nye family’s crisp seaside hostelry in the shellfishing haunt of Brancaster Staithe. It is a classy place decked in nude pine, seaside stripes and boaty nicknacks, all sprinkled with the tang of salty sea air – a wilderness of saltmarshes stretches from the back door to the shore. Local lad Nye revived the run-down 1930s pub two decades ago, partly to give an economic fillip to his fishermen friends, and the menu goes big on mussels and oysters fattened in creeks just yards from the inn. The front bar keeps it real with woodburner and bar billiards, while further back, the sunset-soaked conservatory restaurant serves a very grown-up menu stuffed with impeccably sourced fish and game. There are 15 shipshape bedrooms to tumble into when you’re done.

Sticky fingers

The inn’s superior children’s menu includes grilled free-range chicken with seasonal veg and jus, local sausage and mash, even a ‘superfood salad’. Charmingly, there is also a ‘bowl of the day’ for babies and a kids’ drinks menu: jellyfish cocktail. Kids are very welcome to stay over, but please don’t leave your under-16 alone in the room. Adding an extra person or child’s bed costs £30; or £5 per night for a hotel cot.

Muddy paws

Well-behaved dogs are welcome in the bar, and in annexe bedrooms for a £10 surcharge – a jar of chews is thrown in.

Alfresco

The sun deck behind the inn is perfect for sunset-spotting, and commands views that vault all the way to Scolt Head Island and the sea. There is a very dapper landscaped terrace out front too, some of it under cover, with potted marsh grass and fleece blankets and heaters for when it gets chilly.

What’s on?

The inn throws occasional seafood nights and game suppers in winter, lining up five courses matched with wines and beers, not to mention cooks and fisherfolk talking about their trade. Don’t miss the annual Oyster & Champagne Festival at the bottom of the garden in mid August.

What’s the Damage?
15 doubles £100 – £180. Expect to pay £50 per night more at weekends in summer. Seasonal dinner, bed & breakfast offers from Sunday to Thursday.

What Else?

  • Credit cards accepted (except Amex)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Parking

Gongs
Good Hotel Guide 2016 Editor’s Choice & César Award, AA 3 Star Hotel & 2 Rosette; Best Food Offer in the Publican Awards 2013 and 2014; Waitrose Good Food Guide; Michelin Guide

Sleep

The White Horse Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, PE31 8BY

Do not disturb

A curvilinear annexe between the inn and the sea is knapped in brick and flint, topped with grass and sedum, and softened by flower-filled terraces, all blending beautifully with the multicoloured marshes behind. There are eight spacious, sea-breezy modern rooms here, set off with ocean colours and mood lighting. One has disabled access and all are posted with a handy guide to this month’s tide tables, so that you don’t get swept to sea while rambling down to Brancaster Beach. Seven more rooms lie above the inn: numbers 12, 14, 15 and 16 face inland and are cheaper, and the plum one is the ‘Room at the Top’, a split-level space high in the eaves, with French windows, a panoramic balcony and a telescope for gazing out piratically to sea. Winter is an especially evocative time for a stakeout, as thousands of pink-footed geese arc overhead.

Creature comforts

The roomy annexe bathrooms feel like a real treat, with smellies by Aromatherapy Associates, and there are tea trays and Nespresso machines as standard. If you get really comfortable, room service is available. Better still, order a picnic, borrow binoculars and a birding guide from reception, and set off along the North Norfolk Coast Path to explore the shining foreshore.

Gadgets

There’s digital TV and wireless broadband in all bedrooms.

Pampering

A local therapist is on call for in-room facials, aromatherapy, even ear-candling and ‘Russian honey massage with cupping’. There’s a price list in your room.

What’s for breakfast?

Some nifty additions to the standard bacon and eggs here: salmon, haddock or ham from Letzers’ Norfolk smokehouse to enliven your eggs Benedict perhaps; or fresh-baked croissants and boiled eggs with soldiers if you’re a little less peckish. The same menu is offered to all-comers from 9-11am.

What’s the Damage?
15 doubles £100 – £180. Expect to pay £50 per night more at weekends in summer. Seasonal dinner, bed & breakfast offers from Sunday to Thursday.

What Else?

  • Credit cards accepted (except Amex)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Parking

Gongs
Good Hotel Guide 2016 Editor’s Choice & César Award, AA 3 Star Hotel & 2 Rosette; Best Food Offer in the Publican Awards 2013 and 2014; Waitrose Good Food Guide; Michelin Guide

Eat & Drink

The White Horse Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, PE31 8BY

Mastering the menu

Depending on the season, local cockles, crab, lobster, oysters, mullet, mackerel and sea trout might all surface on head chef Fran Hartshorne’s dazzling menu. If you’re lucky and the tide is right, you may even spy Brancaster Staithe mussel-men Cyril and Ben Southerland hauling home their catch at the foot of the garden. The meat and game is mostly Norfolk-grown too, but dishes are enlivened by many an exotic twist: the scallops might come with curried chickpeas; there’s Israeli couscous with the slow-cooked porchetta; and if you’re unsure what sea purslane is, they gather it on the marshes behind the inn. Pretty much everything is homemade, right down to the delectable lychee and melon sorbets. Fran’s all-day bar menu is scarcely less interesting. Tempura oysters with sweet chilli sauce come singly or by the half-dozen; there’s a terrific paella with Brancaster Staithe mussels and baby squid; plus Norfolk game-and-ale stew and local-venison koftas. Or else plump for a sandwich of curried crayfish or local salt beef, among other fillings.

On the menu

Brancaster Staithe oysters, natural or tempura

Duo of local rabbit, loin, tortellini, mushroom tea, marmite jus

Letzers smoked cod, Havensfield Farm quail eggs, leeks, Brancaster Staithe sea purslane
Roast loin of venison, local game hotpot, textures of parsnips, Savoy cabbage, coco nib jus
Sticky date and hazelnut pudding, espresso ice cream

Sunday roasts

At least one roast adds flavour to the menu on Sunday: if you’re really lucky it’ll be Norfolk Red Poll sirloin.

Foodie Extras

There are one or two tasty week night offers to hook in diners during the autumn and winter. Monday is mussel night, with bumper bowlfuls or mix-and-match platters with four different sauces. Thursday is steak night, with rumps and rib-eyes.

Time to eat

Breakfast: 9am – 11am
Bar menu: 11am – 9pm
Restaurant: 12 noon – 2pm (2.30pm Sundays); dinner 6.15pm – 9pm.

Local, local, local

Letzers Seafood & Smokehouse, Ringstead (www.letzersseafood.co.uk)
Havensfield Farm eggs, Hoxne (www.havensfieldeggs.co.uk)
Perfick Pork, Great Ryburgh (www.perfickpork.co.uk)
Mrs Temple’s handmade cheeses, Wighton (01328 820224)
Cyril & Ben’s Brancaster Staithe mussels (harvested at the bottom of the garden)
Richard Loose’s Brancaster Staithe oysters (harvested in the bay)

Behind the bar

Two centuries ago Brancaster Staithe was home to England’s biggest maltings, and James Nye revived a long tradition of village alemaking when he developed the range of Brancaster Brewery beers. You’ll find its Best on tap at the White Horse, alongside changing guest ales. The well-rounded wine list runs to 20 reds and 20 whites, 13 by the glass and six by the handy half-bottle. Reading about them is as entertaining as quaffing them – the Billaud-Simon Chablis has a “sucking-on-stones minerality”, say the tasting notes, while the Cote de Provence Rosé is “just as enjoyable in Brancaster Staithe as in St Tropez”.

Bar snacks

‘White Horse boards’ are a pick-and-mix affair: snack on Crayfish-and-dill porridge, mushroom-and-leek pasties or smoked-haddock-and-brown-shrimp crumble; or combine them into a distinctively Norfolk tapas platter, eaten out on the sun-deck if the weather smiles. If you just fancy a nibble, there is jalapeno pork crackling or sour-cream cashews.

Time at the bar

11am – 11pm (from 12 noon Sunday)

What’s the Damage?
15 doubles £100 – £180. Expect to pay £50 per night more at weekends in summer. Seasonal dinner, bed & breakfast offers from Sunday to Thursday.

What Else?

  • Credit cards accepted (except Amex)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Parking

Gongs
Good Hotel Guide 2016 Editor’s Choice & César Award, AA 3 Star Hotel & 2 Rosette; Best Food Offer in the Publican Awards 2013 and 2014; Waitrose Good Food Guide; Michelin Guide

Food Trail

Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.

Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know – gabrielle@innplaces.co.uk.

1 Inn Location - The White Horse

3

Deepdale Christmas Market, Burnham Deepdale PE31 8FB

Early December sees over 90 stalls in the market and the local church in Burnham Deepdale, where you can buy the best festive gifts and food & drink, replete with entertainment and other Christmassy activities.

6

Samphire and Seafood Stalls NR25 7PG

As you drive the coast road in these parts, keep your eyes peeled for little stalls outside houses selling freshly-caught fish, shellfish (especially Brancaster mussels and Stewkey Blues cockles from Stiffkey) and crisp salty marsh samphire in the summer months.

8

Back To The Garden, Letheringsett, Holt NR25 7JJ

Award-winning farm shop and cafe in a stunning renovated barn, with high quality produce, including Soil Association-quality meat counter, organic veggies and a delicatessen and of course excellent home-made meals.

9

North Norfolk Food Festival, Holkham Park NR23 1AB

A celebration in early September of all that is best about food grown, reared, caught, made or sold in north Norfolk. The best local producers attend, offering plenty of tastings and samples to tempt.

10

The Duck Inn, Burnham Road, Stanhoe PE31 8QD

Ben Handley cooks inspiring local produce and his wife Sarah runs the front of house. An Elgoods pub, stopping for a half is also encouraged. There's a delightfully short menu (+ specials) and a ducklings menu for little ones too.

11

The Three Horseshoes, The Street, Warham NR23 1NL

Step back in time with local cider and ales straight from the barrel and speciality home-made pies such as wild game, rabbit, beef & Stilton. Close to the salt marshes and the Peddar's Way so a good stop off for cyclists and nature lovers.

12

The Albatros, The Quay, Wells-next-the-Sea NR23 1AT

After your fish and chips, go over to The Albatross, an old dutch cargo sailing ship, moored up at the quay, and now a bar and pancake restaurant, for a pint of Woodforde's Wherry or a delicious dessert.

13

Thornham Deli, Main Road, Thornham PE36 6LX

While in Thornham, this is a great deli with a cafe on the side, run by Jeanne Whittome (of Hoste Arms fame). Picnic hampers, themed foodie evenings, amazing home wares and boutique fashion too.

14

Whin Hill Cider, Stearman

Using the apple crops from their Stanhoe orchards, the Jarvis's cider press barn is just off the main car park in Wells, producing interesting varietal and bottle-conditioned cider and perry plus single apple juices.

15

Drove Orchards, Thornham PE36 6LS

Amazing fruit farm, home to over 150 varieties of apple, including 100 from East Anglia, and other tasty fruit and vegetables such as nuts, artichokes and salads. The two eating options are a rustic cafe-restaurant and a new proper fish'n'chip restaurant & take-away, Eric's, which is run by local chef Eric Snaith of Titchwell Manor.

18

Wiveton Hall Café and Fruit Farm, Wiveton NR25 7TE

Outside Wiveton to the north off the A149 coast road is this a hidden Norfolk gem, full of Jacobean architecture, charming walled gardens and productive fruit farming in the grounds. PYO or buy berries and other crops in the shop. But main attraction is the farm café with beautiful views and fabulous rustic ingredient-led cooking.

21

The Jolly Sailors, Main Road, Brancaster, Staithe, PE31 8BP

Sister place to The White Horse, a near-perfect family place we agree. Muddy boots, dogs and children are all welcome at The Jolly Sailors. Great pub grub including fantastic home-made pizzas, real ale and 40 different rums on offer behind the bar.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - The White Horse

Activities

2

Seal Trips, Morston NR25 7AA

Watching seals at home in their natural environment on Blakeney Point (also a well-known breeding ground for waders and terns), is a popular boating excursion. Boats leave from Morston Quay and the trip lasts for one hour, but if weather conditions are favourable, boats will land on Blakeney Point for an additional 30-60 minutes.

3

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, Brancaster PE31 8AX

The Royal West Norfolk Golf Club at Brancaster is a superb links course on the North Norfolk Coast. Visitors are welcome, although numbers are limited. There’s an excellent pro shop and traditional club house, too. Elsewhere, there are courses at Cromer, Fakenham, Hunstanton and Sheringham.

5

Racing at Fakenham, Fakenham NR21 7NY

This is a popular National Hunt racecourse situated to the south of Holkham and Wells-next-the-Sea. The course was established in 1905 and its racing season is between October and May.

Shopping

14

Artemis Homes & Antiques, Blakeney NR25 7NQ

Everything from sideboards and sofas to tables and tea sets can be found at this antique and home-furnishings shop in the picturesque North Norfolk village of Blakeney. Themes range from Arts & Crafts to Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

15

Flint Gallery, Blakeney NR25 7NQ

Situated close to the quay in Blakeney, this charming gallery is home to an impressive range of contemporary art, including wildlife sculpture, original paintings, designer jewellery and ceramics.

16

Holt NR25 6BW

This timeless little market town is a shopper's paradise. Explore its back alleys and you'll find an assortment of galleries, delis, boutiques and individual shops. The Mews Antiques Emporium is crammed with goodies.

17

Burnham Market PE31 8HD

Dubbed Chelsea-on-Sea, Burnham Market has over 30 independent shops and distinctive retailers specialising in contemporary art, stylish accessories for home and garden and fashionable clothes shops for all tastes and requirements.

18

Norfolk Living, Market Place, Burnham Market PE31 8HF

In the heart of the village, Norfolk Living is a rambling lifestyle emporium, chock-full of stylish fabrics and unusual interior accessories, plus decorative stone ornaments and garden furniture, and fashion goods.

Places to visit

6

Blickling Hall, Blickling, Aylsham NR11 6NF

Catching sight of Blickling Hall for the first time takes your breath away. The turreted Jacobean mansion stands proud in the Norfolk landscape and surrounding it is a beautiful 500-acre park. Blickling, near Aylsham, is widely believed to be the birthplace of Anne Boleyn.

7

Pensthorpe Nature Reserve & Gardens, Fakenham NR21 0LN

If you love nature, wildlife and the great outdoors, then this is just the place to head for. Situated near Fakenham, Pensthorpe is a magical mix of superb nature trails, beautiful gardens and fascinating wildlife. Bisected by the River Wensum, the park covers 700 acres.

8

Norfolk Lavender, Heacham PE31 7JE

Down the road from Brancaster, at Heacham, near Hunstanton, you'll find the home of Norfolk Lavender, where you can see the world-famous lavender gardens, the lavender oil distillery and the national lavender collection and herb garden. The gift shop has a wide range of Norfolk Lavender products and plants.

9

Houghton Hall, Houghton PE31 6UE

This magnificent grand Palladian mansion lies in picturesque parkland near King's Lynn. It's the home of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister, and has imposing state rooms, an impressive collection of model soldiers and a restored walled garden.

10

Sandringham PE35 6EN

Situated north of King's Lynn, Sandringham is where members of the Royal Family traditionally spend Christmas. The Grade-II-listed house and gardens, surrounded by a vast estate of 20,000 acres, is open to visitors.

11

Titchwell Nature Reserve, Titchwell PE31 8BB

Titchwell Marsh is one of the RSPB's most visited reserves. Follow several nature trails to spot ducks, waders, geese and seabirds. There are also avocets and terns, bitterns and marsh harriers and a visitor centre, where you can learn more about your surroundings.

19

King's Lynn PE30 1HX

Originally called Bishop’s Lynn, King’s Lynn is a classic seaport and market town with a rich and varied history of some 1,000 years. The town’s quaint streets are packed with period buildings and ancient landmarks. Look out for the handsome Custom House.

Walking

www.walkinginnorfolk.co.uk
The North Norfolk Coast has been described as a long way from anywhere and that is certainly the impression it gives, especially when you stroll its many miles of desolate beaches. The region offers enormous scope for all kinds of walking – long, short and medium.

Cycling

www.dalegatemarket.co.uk
www.cycle-route.com
The North Norfolk Coast Cycleway between King’s Lynn and Cromer is an established favourite, appealing to locals and visitors alike. Just along the road from the White Horse, at Dalegate Market, Burnham Deepdale (PE31 8FB), you can hire bikes, trailers and child seats.

Events

www.visitnorthnorfolk.co.uk
North Norfolk has a full diary of festivals and events. One of the best-known annual fixtures is the Norfolk and Norwich
Festival in May, one of the largest arts festivals in the country. The North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at Holkham Hall in August is a celebration of all that is good about local produce.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: The White Horse is in Brancaster Staithe village, on the A149 North Norfolk coast road midway between Hunstanton and Wells-next-the-Sea.

Address:

Main Road,, Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, PE31 8BY

Rooms rates & booking

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