Featured in Feast, issue 39 – September 2019 – Spotlight Feature
With 14 eclectic hotel and self-catering rooms, an award-winning restaurant, a café and deli, plus an interiors and lifestyle shop, Strattons Hotel in Swaffham is so much more than the sum of its parts.
It’s something of an all-inclusive venue, where you could eat all day and then stay all night, offering accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as traditional Norfolk afternoon tea, with pet friendly, child friendly and family friendly bedrooms. So far, so very inclusive.
Sitting in a quiet, yet central, private close in the town, the place has got quite a history, as the earliest record of Strattons is on the 1797 Faden’s map, which clearly shows a T shape and a driveway straight up to the front door. Les and Vanessa Scott, who met at Art College in the late 70s, bought it in 1990 and, with their artistic flair, have transformed it into the award-winning luxury boutique hotel it is today.
Unsurprisingly, with their background, the hotel is full of beautiful things collected and loved over the years by the couple.
Extensive renovation has taken place over time, using period and conservation materials, working with local skilled artisans who have the craftsmanship, sensitivity and sympathy for old buildings – Les and Vanessa clearly feel they are caretakers rather than owners of this unique listed building.
They champion an award-winning environmental ethos, with sustainability at the very heart of the business (don’t even bother mentioning single-use plastic – Strattons have long since been ahead of the game).
It’s not really hard to see why it was named THE romantic choice by the editor of the Good Hotel Guide earlier this year. The bedrooms and suites are all very sumptuous and very individual: imagine a carved four-poster bed; an open fire; a freestanding bath at the foot of the bed with room for two; a cow hide or two; a huge private decked balcony, and you get the picture.
As for food, well, good food has always been a vital ingredient of Strattons’ delivery and an important connection with its rural location. The restaurant, with its 40 covers, has won many awards and accolades for it delicious food and the pursuit of only the best ethical and purest local ingredients served in a contemporary English style.
The restaurant is situated in the semi-basement, an area referred to as The Rustic from the Palladian fashion for decorating the lower ground floor facade with rusticated stone.
Food style is Modern British, using the best local, fresh ingredients – organic wherever possible – and including vegetables, salad leaves, and herbs from their own gardens. Everything is made daily on site enabling them to cater for all dietary requirements including coeliacs, vegetarians, diabetics, vegans and allergies.
The guiding principle is quite simply to source and prepare the fabulous seasonal produce on their doorstep, real food with true flavours. The unique geography and climate of the Brecks – it is the driest part of Britain – yield some interesting crops from asparagus to blueberries.
They have a great number of small producers supplying them with their foods: fabulous local cheese makers, microbreweries, arable farms, organic and free-range animal production and not forgetting the food from the wild; blackberries, wild mushrooms, sloes, horseradish, wild garlic, venison and game.
Strattons is also the perfect venue for afternoon tea by the fire as we approach the colder months. It’s themed throughout the year and the imaginative cakes really are a sight to behold!
In addition, CoCoes café deli sits within the hotel’s grounds, offering fresh, wholesome, nourishing and delicious food using local producers and suppliers. Eat in, or take home freshly baked bread, organic and biodynamic wines, deli items, eggs, scrummy cakes, homemade chocolates, Norfolk cheeses and freshly prepared dishes from the menu.
There is a daily changing blackboard featuring dishes such as Norfolk fish cakes with fennel slaw or delicious vegetarian or meat quiches, mezes, tapas or aubergine parmigiana.
Finally, Bam & Arrow is the latest chapter in the Strattons story. Located at the entrance to Strattons, everything in the lifestyle shop which opened last year is chosen to create an artistic, welcoming and eclectic feel and is curated by Hannah Hughes, Vanessa’s and Les’ daughter. It’s a natural progression, in a sense, as now you can expect to see items from the shop within the hotel bedrooms and then, almost literally, take home a slice of Strattons. And soon it will be selling online – watch this space.
So what is the next chapter? Vanessa says: ‘Hannah and her husband, Dominic, are really stepping up to run the hotel, and developing new ideas. It is our 30th anniversary next year and my focus now is helping the next generation – those entering the hospitality world. Hopefully, I have learnt a few things that I can pass on and make the industry a better place to work. And I always have sustainability at the forefront of my mind, in all that I do.’