The Gunton Arms Pub with rooms in Thorpe Market, Norfolk

Prices from:
£95 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Stunning parkland setting
  • Deer roam freely past the inn
  • Gorgeous views from every window
  • Country-house chic – baronial décor
  • Gutsy, ingredient-led cooking
  • Cooking over fire adds theatre
  • Summer alfresco dining heaven
  • Elegant, antique furnished bedrooms

Sticky FingersOutdoor PursuitsCandlelitGreen FingersVisit a Stately Pile

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Overview

The Gunton Arms Thorpe Market, Norfolk, NR11 8TZ

The personal touch

Take the gravel drive off the A149 south of Thorpe Market and expect the unexpected – a chic, hunting lodge-style inn set within a stunning 1,000-acre country estate. Chelsea art dealer and Gunton Park resident, Ivor Braka, snapped up the once faded hotel at the end of the drive in 2009, renamed it the Gunton Arms and lavished money on the place, totally restoring the 18th-century building, with the help of some well-known designer friends, Robert Kime (bedrooms) and Martin Brudnizki (bar & restaurant). If you’re lucky, your arrival will coincide with deer roaming freely past the inn, a sight to behold and best enjoyed from one of the vast chunky tables on the open parkland beside the inn, or in the comfort of the bar on cooler days. Bar and dining rooms exude a baronial feel, with warm red hues, antique furnishings, blazing log fires and wooden floors, but the vibe is relaxed and informal, and there are soothing parkland views from every window. The eagle-eyed will spy the risqué Tracey Emin sketches behind the bar, and some other fine artwork dotted around the walls. The elegant Stamp Rooms and lounges offer residents a peaceful refuge away from the bustling bar.

Muddy paws

Dogs are always very welcome in the bar and overnight in two of the rooms (£10 per night).

Sticky fingers

Children can stay overnight, there’s a cot and fold-up bed available. Under 3s stay for free; older children £15 a night.

Alfresco

With (thankfully) no fencing around the inn, the mown area naturally blends in to the vast parkland, allowing uninterrupted views of open parkland and roaming deer. So, arrive early in summer to bag one of the vast tables (designed to share) and soak up the view over lunch or supper. With removable sides, the Garden Room, replete with stone floor, fat candles on rustic tables, and open fireplace, offers extra summer alfresco dining space. Braziers and blankets allow you to stay outside until late.

What’s the Damage?
8 doubles: £95 – £220 (Sunday – Thursday); £99 – £240 (Friday & Saturday). Minimum stay two nights at weekends.

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Parking

Gongs
Waitrose Good Food Guide

Sleep

The Gunton Arms Thorpe Market, Norfolk, NR11 8TZ

Do not disturb

A sweeping staircase leads upstairs to the eight gorgeous bedrooms named after local persons that work on the estate, and all ooze country-house style and period charm. Expect rich fabrics and wall coverings, antique furnishings and objet d’art, Persian rugs on thick carpets, feature fireplaces, and comfortable beds topped with Egyptian cotton, traditional bedspreads and blankets. There’s no TV, just a Roberts radio, so relax and savour the peace and quiet and the far-reaching parkland views. Brilliant bathrooms have marble-tiled floors, old washstands and posh smellies, the biggest and best having deep tubs and separate walk-in showers. Don’t miss the mini roof terrace off the landing – it sports deck chairs, perfect for a sundowner on a summer’s evening. New rooms in the recently converted coach house are equally stylish, with more rooms soon to be completed in a refurbished barn.

Creature comforts

Noble Isle bathroom products; antiques; free-standings baths; country-house style décor; under floor heating.

Gadgets

Roberts Radio; telephone; free wi-fi; no televisions!

What’s for Breakfast?

Smoked salmon & scrambled eggs; Cley Smokehouse kippers; drop scone with Swafield cured bacon & Alby honey; Gunton fried breakfast (the works….!)

What’s the Damage?
8 doubles: £95 – £220 (Sunday – Thursday); £99 – £240 (Friday & Saturday). Minimum stay two nights at weekends.

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Parking

Gongs
Waitrose Good Food Guide

Eat & Drink

The Gunton Arms Thorpe Market, Norfolk, NR11 8TZ

Mastering the menu

Inspirational in the development of the kitchen has been renowned chef Mark Hix, whose simple, gutsy, ingredient-led style of cooking is engrained in head chef Stuart Tattersall’s (ex Hix Oyster & Chop House) ethos and simply described monthly menus. Stuart only uses local, seasonal ingredients, with venison from the deer park, seafood and Cromer crab caught by local fishermen, and foraged samphire from the coast, so hearty dishes and big flavours. Roasted, well aged meats, cooked by Stuart over the vast open fire in the Elk Room (not Sundays), is a highlight, notably a deliciously juicy Blythburgh pork chop, served with goose fat roast potatoes and Bramley apple sauce. Leave room for a memorable pudding, perhaps gooseberry meringue tart or a chocolate marquise with caramel oranges. The Elk Room is an impressive dining room, dominated by huge elk antlers over the equally vast open fire, and featuring a vaulted wooden roof, interesting artwork, old pew benches and scrubbed tables, and long, colourful drapes at the French doors, which lead out to the parkland garden.

On the menu

Norfolk asparagus and feta salad
Smoked sardines, horseradish, golden beetroot
Blythburgh bacon chop, cockles and sea beet
BBQ beef brisket, chips and slaw
Hake, pardon peppers and chorizo
Chicken, bacon and leek pie
Sharrington strawberry meringue
Blueberry & vanilla cheesecake
Sandwiches: salt beef, dill pickle, mustard

Sunday Roasts

Traditional roast rib of beef or a whole farmhouse chicken to share served with goose fat roasted potatoes and all the trimmings

Time to Eat

Breakfast: 7.30am – 9.30am (8am – 10am Saturday & Sunday)
Lunch: 12 noon – 3pm
Dinner: 6pm – 10pm (6pm – 9pm Sundays)
Bar food: 12 noon – 10pm (sandwiches served until 5pm)

Local, local, local

Venison from the Gunton Estate
Cromer Crab, seafood & mussels – caught by a local fisherman
Foraged coastal plants, including samphire
Cley Smokehouse

Behind the bar

On the bar four handpumps dispense tip-top East Anglian ales including locally brewed Woodforde’s Wherry, Adnams Southwold Bitter and Broadside, and a local guest beer, perhaps Winter’s Storm Force. Behind the bar you’ll find some boutique gins and a good range of malts, plus concise list of wines, which includes a decent house wine from a small French vineyard (£20).

Bar snacks

Potted salmon with toast
Spicy wild boar sausages, chilli jam
Pork croquettes, rhubarb relish
Lamb keema, naan

Time at the bar

12 noon – 11pm

What’s the Damage?
8 doubles: £95 – £220 (Sunday – Thursday); £99 – £240 (Friday & Saturday). Minimum stay two nights at weekends.

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Parking

Gongs
Waitrose Good Food 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 Gunton Arms

2

Walpole Arms, The Common, Itteringham NR11 7AR

Bought by the local Harrold farming family, this iconic Norfolk country pub takes full advantage of their home-grown produce. The vine-covered terrace is just made for summer alfresco enjoyment.

3

Earle Arms, The Green, Heydon NR11 6AD

A traditional Norfolk freehouse-restaurant in a lovely estate village with the requisite green and church for a picturesque setting and Heydon Hall and grounds worth exploring before or after.

5

Wroxham Barns, Tunstead Road, Hoveton NR12 8QU

Open all year and situated not far away at Hoveton, Wroxham Barns is a complex of former farm outbuildings that have been imaginatively converted into a varied range of shops. Look out for the Norfolk Cider Shop and Gifts at the Gallery, with its designer-led pottery and fashion accessories.

6

The Dun Cow, Salthouse NR25 7XA

This lovely hostelry on the coast road is being revitalised with passion and interest. Don't miss the Gray family's beef reared outside the windows on Salthouse marshes and the famous local Morston mussels.

7

Picnic Fayre, Cley-next-the-Sea NR25 7AP

This award-winning deli is situated in a former forge and has an impressive antipasti bar. It's the place to come for local cheeses, fruit and vegetables and speciality breads.

8

Cookies Crab Shop, The Green, Salthouse NR25 7AJ

The popularity of this seafood shack is legendary (after three generations). It's a simple place all round, quite set in their ways about how to do things but that's how they cater for so many. Family day boats bring in flapping-fresh seafood. Get there early!

9

The Ship, Weybourne NR25 7SZ

A traditional real ale pub, local is key, including seafood landed on the beach nearby or smoked fish from Cley Smokehouse. The village sits on the North Norfolk Coast path, so The Ship makes a great relaxing stop-off.

10

Gangway Crab Shop, The Gangway, Cromer NR27 9ET

Marty Rowlands lands crabs and lobster daily in his own boat during the season and is one of the more-established long serving fishermen. Selling to restaurants like the Arms, they also have a seasonal shop for dressed shellfish in The Gangway (call 01263 515744 to check opening hours).

11

Marsh Pig, Claxton, Norwich NR14 7HU

Loved by the Gunton Arms chefs, free range Norfolk charcuterie such as different salami, coppa shoulder, and lomo loin made with Blythburgh Free Range Pork from just over the border as well as beef braesola. Find it in local delis and farmers markets. Claxton-based Jackie Kennedy also runs courses and sells online.

13

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.

14

Mary Jane's Fish Bar, Garden Street, Cromer NR27 9HN

After a bracing walk down the Pier, what’s better on the coast than proper fish’n’chips. Always freshly fried and be ready to queue, good things are worth the wait. 01263 511208.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - The Gunton Arms

Activities

2

North Norfolk Railway, Sheringham NR26 8RA

Operating both steam and diesel trains, the North Norfolk Railway runs between Sheringham and Holt and is a great way to see the local countryside. There are catering facilities on board and numerous special events throughout the year.

3

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.

4

Surfing at Cromer NR27 9HE

Between April and October you get the chance to experience the thrill of North Norfolk's spectacular tides and waves, with lessons provided by Glide Surf School. By contrast, the region's rivers offer the chance for various exhilarating adventure sports, including kayaking

5

Golf NR27 0JH

Golfers are spoilt for choice in North Norfolk. As well as two Royal courses, at Cromer and West Norfolk, there is the chance to play at Fakenham, Hunstanton, Heacham Manor, Sheringham and Searles.

Shopping

11

Ship-To-Shore, Wells-next-the-Sea NR23 1AR

Expect to find British nautical clothing brand Quba & Co at Ship-to-Shore, the company's first outlet in Norfolk. Clothing, jackets, bags and accessories are all expertly crafted using traditional sail-making skills. There are even marine-themed homewares from deckchairs and bean bags to sofas and cushions.

12

Birdscapes Gallery, Glandford NR25 7JP

Artworks that reflect Norfolk's diverse wildlife are on display in the excellent gallery at Glandford, near Holt. Expect some striking and very distinctive pieces, including paintings, prints and sculptures.

14

Holt NR25 6AW

A small but smart market town, famous for its main street of Georgian buildings, fascinating galleries and wonderful independent retailers, there’s good shopping to be had in Holt. Among the delights is the Mews Antiques Emporium, where even Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, has been spotted buying gifts.

15

Picnic Fayre, Cley next the Sea NR25 7AP

This award-winning deli is situated in a former forge and has an impressive antipasti bar. It’s the place to come for local cheeses, fruit and vegetables and speciality breads.

Places to visit

6

Felbrigg Hall, Thorpe Market NR11 8PR

Fellbrigg Hall's splendid park is one of the highlights of a visit to this popular National Trust visitor attraction a short distance from Cromer. Here, you can explore over 500 acres of woods and miles of waymarked paths where nature and wildlife are much in evidence.

7

Mannington Gardens NR11 7BB

Expect to see a wide variety of trees and shrubs surrounded by a splendid medieval moated manor house at Mannington Gardens, situated in glorious countryside to the south-west of Thorpe Market. There are classic roses, scented plants and herbaceous borders.

8

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.

9

Walsingham NR22 6BP

Famous as a pilgrimage centre and for its religious shrines in honour of the Virgin Mary, Walsingham lies just to the south of Wells. Apart from its historic abbey, known for its dazzling carpets of snowdrops, there is a wealth of historic buildings to see and a museum. And wander through the delightful wildflower meadows.

10

Thursford Collection, Thursford, Fakenham NR21 0AS

It's probably not what you'd expect to find in the depths of North Norfolk, but lovers of musical instruments will be quickly drawn in. Among the treasured items here at Fakenham are a Wurlitzer cinema organ, fairground carousels and various barrel and street organs.

Walking

www.walkinginnorfolk.co.uk
www.nationaltrail.co.uk/peddars-way-and-norfolk-coast-path
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 deserted beaches. The region offers enormous scope for all kinds of walking – long, short and medium. One of the most popular haunts of walkers is the region’s remote Holkham Beach, immortalised in the film Shakespeare in Love. It’s just the place to enjoy wild beauty and stunning wide skies. If you enjoy sampling long-distance paths, however, try the 93-mile Peddars Way and North Norfolk Coast Path. Following ancient tracks and Roman roads and consisting of two paths joined together to form one route, the Peddars Way and North Norfolk Coast Path offers a great blend of pastoral Norfolk hinterland and magnificent coastal scenery.

Cycling

www.cycle-route.com
www.norfolkcyclehire.co.uk
The region’s relatively flat terrain makes this part of the country ideal for cycling. There’s a wide choice of undemanding cycle rides, but for something more ambitious, try the Bure Valley Railway, a nine-mile trail running from Aylsham to Wroxham. If you prefer, you can return to the start by train. For the really adventurous, there’s the Norfolk Coast Cycleway between King’s Lynn and Cromer.

Events

www.visitnorthnorfolk.co.uk
www.cityofale.org.uk
Among the area’s host of entertaining events is the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in May, a flagship event for the East of England and one of the largest arts festivals in the country. The North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at Holkham Hall in August celebrates all that is good about local produce, while the Hill House Inn at Happisburgh, between Cromer and Caister, has its own annual Solstice Beer Festival in June. Sherlock Holmes fans should note that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a short story, The Dancing Men, after visiting Hill House in 1903. Norwich City of Ale Festival, is a treat for all ale-heads – here is a distinct scent of malted barley in the air for 10 days in May across this fine city, celebrating local ales and breweries in an array of pubs and other venues.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

The Gunton Arms is signed off A149 just south of Thorpe Market between North Walsham and Cromer.

Address:

Cromer Road, Thorpe Market, Norfolk, NR11 8TZ

Rooms rates & booking
Reviews

Reviews

The Sunday Times, 100 Ultimate British Hotels, 2013, Posh Pubs
‘The rooms are bright, stylish and comfortable; and downstairs, when the fires are lit, the place glows. The woodburning range, where they cook venison sausages and steaks, is the focal point of each evening, but pretty soon the soon the sense of warmth it generates spreads through the entire building and out into the deer park beyond. By bedtime, you’ll be utterly bewitched.’

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