Big British Loopholes: The stove is gone, but this former glass factory turned hotel in Norfolk is still smoking hot
- The Harper in Norfolk has 32 bedrooms with oak floors and beautifully thought out interiors
- On the food front, the lobster and samphire mac ‘n’ cheese was one of the standout dishes for Jane Knight
- A ten minute ride on the hotel’s free bikes will bring you to the cute village of Blakeney
In the brick and flint barns in this small Norfolk village, a furnace burned at 1,350 ° C to make Langham Glass’s vases, bowls and menagerie of animals.
Now that the company has moved to larger premises, the factory has been converted into a beautiful boutique hotel. And it smokes hot.
The old workshop, now the lounge, is brought to a more comfortable temperature by a wood-burning stove, with seating to lounge around while you sip a glass from the wine vending machine.
A new life: the lounge at The Harper with “artfully mismatched” furniture
A nod to its past, a huge stained glass window depicts a number of Norfolk’s birds (plus a few canaries representing Norwich City FC) while other birds adorn a window in the adjoining dining room.
Even if the restaurant, the quiet, lively bar and the cozy cave are newer additions to the original building, you can feel the character of the place everywhere with exposed brick walls and wooden or slate floors.
The furnishings are so artfully not coordinated – an old car seat for a chair here, a statement lamp there – you get the feeling that a top designer must have been brought in now in the business for wedding locations.
Opening their first hotel last month wasn’t painless. It took a significant amount of work when they bought the property in 2016. Then, when they were about to open last year, Covid struck.
The pretty exterior of the former glassworks, which today welcomes guests with 32 bedrooms
The hotel is close to the extensive sandy beaches of Holkham which, according to Jane Knight, “is definitely the best beach in Norfolk”.
Rooms at The Harper in Norfolk start at £ 175 a night on a B&B basis. More information is available at theharper.co.uk.
Now, however, an air of laid-back sophistication pervades the place, making it the perfect base from which to explore this beautiful part of Norfolk.
A ten-minute ride on the hotel’s free bicycles will take you to the cute village of Blakeney, where you can buy crab sarnies from the deli for either the coastal walk to Cley with its windmill and smokehouse, or a boat trip to spot seals slumbering on the banks .
The sands of Holkham, arguably Norfolk’s best beach, are just a short drive along the coast. And there is Langham’s new glass factory in Fakenham. Here, too, you can twist the raffle iron with its molten lump of glass, which slides down like syrup from a spoon, into a colored tea light – the perfect souvenir.
The USP: Relaxed luxury near the Norfolk coast couldn’t be much better – and when you’re done exploring, the reasonably-priced spa awaits you with a pool, thermal cabins, and soothing massages.
The food: There is plenty of seafood and local produce on the menu, with an outstanding lobster and samphire mac ‘n’ cheese on the all-day dining list, and I had a tasty but slightly overdone venison in the restaurant.
The rooms: The 32 bedrooms with oak parquet are nicely thought out. The Big, Bigger, and Biggest categories are just that – our Big Twin was spacious, with two small double beds. Free cocktails, beer and snacks can be found in the minibar.