Copyright © 2015 Feast Norfolk Magazine

A Big HeartRead two recipes from Park Farm Hotel
Whether you’re looking for a bit of comfort when you’re away on business, fancy a weekend break, are getting married or heading out for lunch, Park Farm Hotel pretty much fits the bill.

There are 52 bedrooms, several function rooms, a restaurant, a buzzy bar with a conservatory, lovely grounds, and a health club - plus you are in a peaceful countryside setting, about eight miles south of Norwich.

The hotel has been in the ownership of the Gowing family since 1958, and now it is the second generation, with son David, driving the business forward. And they certainly don’t stand still, with refurbishments in the bar, now called Helene’s Lounge (named after David’s mother), and Seasons restaurant, four new bedroom suites and building work starting on two new lodges in the grounds. Wow!

As Michael Bannister, one of the senior members of the management team, explains: ‘Yes, we don’t stand still, we reinvest in the hotel.’

It is a calm place, with soft, muted colours throughout, and there’s certainly plenty of room - none of that clashing of chairs in the restaurant. Indeed, Helene’s Lounge is almost too comfy with deep sofas and wing-backed armchairs making it a great place for a gossip and a catch up.

It’s also the place for a lighter lunch - how does lamb tagine, fish pie, Caesar salad or a panini sound? And it is also a lovely spot for afternoon tea which remains such a popular treat, and also pre-dinner drinks, with the gin menu catching the eye.

Food comes under the direction of executive head chef David Bell who has been at the hotel for more than 15 years. With a team of 10 in the kitchen, the menus reflect the seasons and make good use of local produce, as well as keeping up with foodie trends. In the AA Rosette Restaurant, Seasons, expect dishes such as pan fried pigeon breast on a raspberry purée with crisp pancetta and watercress salad as a starter and grilled black bream served on puy lentils with fondant carrots and wilted kale as a main.

Choice continues with four different standards of bedroom, six different suites and a spacious apartment. All boasting their own unique features. Many are family friendly and several have their own terraces.

Add in a health club, with its gym, swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, plus Imagine Spa for beauty treats, meaning the hotel caters for the business and leisure traveller in equal measure.

As this time of year, many brides and grooms are looking at where to hold their Big Day. Park Farm Hotel offers plenty of choice, with experienced wedding planner Sue Dedman on hand to help and advice.

Up to 100 guests can be catered for during the day, and 150 for an evening function. Couples can opt for a church wedding (Hethersett’s parish church is lovely) or hold their ceremony at the hotel. Bespoke packages can be created which can be as adventurous as you like and the hotel has just relaunched its own wedding brochure, detailing three different packages. These help to guide couples as to what they might like and include essentials such as room hire, a cake stand and knife, table floral decorations and so on.There are suggestions for evening receptions, food possibilities for younger guests and an afternoon tea option.

As a nice touch, couples are given free membership to the health club for a year and also a free one-night stay, with dinner, to celebrate their first anniversary.

The hotel is, it must be said, a great place for photos, with that wonderful drive, and mature gardens and, as Michael says: ‘We are all about offering a special, personal day; we hold just one wedding a day and work hard to create a family feel.’