The Westleton Crown | www.westletoncrown.co.uk
The much loved Westleton Crown is now part of the Chestnut Group, a nice little collection of hotels and pubs in East Anglia run by the very charismatic Phil Turner, which also includes The Globe at Wells and The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds.
It is a big place, with 34 bedrooms, and lots of different dining areas and bars which have all benefited from an extensive lockdown make-over. Look out for great new light fittings, quirky designer wallpaper – I really like the Mulberry Flying Ducks wallpaper which pops up throughout – and luxurious soft furnishings.
The colour palate of the former coaching inn now cleverly reflects the surrounding landscapes and wildlife, so think choppy seas, heathers, brooding skies and more.
The Garden Room, home to the hotel’s main restaurant, is especially stunning, now painted a marvellous forest green, with bold Osbourne and Little ‘Green Wall’ wallpaper, enormous plants and floor to ceiling windows which open out onto the pretty garden.
The bar is just as a proper bar should be, with a woodburner at one end, plenty of wooden tables and chairs, and a great selection of real ales including ones from Woodfordes and Adnams served from the wood-panelled bar.
Add in a Parlour and a Snug, complete with an upright piano, and a further restful lounge area – perfect for a nightcap or two with its sofas and wing-backed armchairs – and there’s plenty of space to suit your mood!
Assistant manager Alison Catchpole is delighted with the results, which give a more contemporary feel throughout, whilst still keeping all the original features of the 12th century building like wonderful wooden floors, and there is a charming collection of period photographs from the surrounding area to inspect, too.
We visited for lunch, which was quite a treat. Head chef Kieren Drinkwater has real flair, and offers an ambitious menu which reflects both the area’s rich bounty and our seasons. Local produce includes plenty of fish, cheeses, pork, beef, vegetables and more, while plums and blackberries and tomatoes indicate the time of year.
I started with a smoked chicken and blue cheese salad with sun blushed tomatoes and croutons at £6. It was practically perfect – a lovely tangy start to my meal and well, who can resist blue cheese? Not me! My husband opted for goats’ cheese and spinach croquetas, with romesco ( a tomato-based sauce) at £6.50, which was much enjoyed, too.
Pork belly, fried whitebait and home made soup were other options.
But we were on to our main courses and, for us, it had to be fish. I went for pan fried cod filet with a celeriac puree, puy lentils and pancetta with a sauce vierge (lemon juice, oil, chopped tomato and basil) at £17. I thought it was a clever dish – light but interesting, and just right for lunch.
Himself had baked sea trout, fried butter beans, broccoli, and tomato fondue at £17.25. Again, it was very prettily presented, with a good mixture of textures – but the fish was allowed to speak for itself.
Further choices included beer battered haddock and chips, a butternut squash and wild mushroom linguini and a fish finger ciabatta.
We shared a dessert and it had, of course, to be chocolate – a chocolate mousse with passionfruit jelly and macadamia nut praline at £6.50. It was suitably decadent, and I do think chocolate and passionfruit work together really well.
The wine list is carefully curated, and I enjoyed a glass of Gavi La Battistina from Italy which was good and crisp.
The hotel is set in a fantastic location, on the Suffolk Heritage Coast, with Dunwich just two or three miles away – and there is a great walk from The Crown to its sister property, The Ship. Plus there is Dunwich Heath and Dingle Marshes which are ideal for decent walks and cycle rides.The hotel is very dog friendly, too, with the majority of bedrooms allowing four-legged overnight guests.