It was one of the original ‘posh’ or rather boutique B&Bs in the county and Sarah Hardy can report that Byfords in Holt is still fab!
It’s believed to be in one of Holt’s oldest buildings and Byfords was certainly one of the county’s first posh or boutique, B&Bs.
Situated right in the centre of the thriving market town, the store cum restaurant cum B&B dates back to the middle of the 19th century when Henry Byford opened up a family hardware business in the pretty brick and flint building, just off the High Street.
It was taken over in 2000 by local entrepreneur Iain Wilson, and his wife Clair, and they have created a friendly place where both locals and holiday makers readily head to. They started to add in bedrooms in about 2004, using adjoining cottages, and there are now 16, all gloriously ‘higgedly piggedly’, to use their words.
They play to the building’s original features with lots of beams, dark wooden floorboards and fireplaces but have those vital mod cons like bluetooth, decent TVs with Sky and a fridge with fresh milk supplied. And the Wilsons always do bathrooms very, very well, with huge tubs, power showers and masses of toiletries to try!
There are different categories of bedrooms and we escaped to a ‘posh’ one, room number three which looks out from the front of the building. With plenty of exposed brickwork, an open fire, two wing-backed leather chairs and a sunken bath, we were very comfy, indeed.
There is also a two-bedroom apartment, with self catering facilities, which is great for families, and a ground floor room with disabled access.
The store is always offering something new and fun; there’s now a hot counter so you enjoy a hog roast baguette, while the cakes are always first class. Look out for sarnies, salads, pastries and more. I also love their hampers which are perfect for trips to the beach or outdoor concerts.
The restaurant is always reliable and it serves food all day every day, so you don’t have to worry about missing set lunch times or anything. There’s a real mixture on offer: pizzas, salads, plenty of favourites such as game pie, pasta, chicken supreme, and ribs, and on the pudding front, cheesecakes and sundaes catch the eye.
Expect sharing platters and grazing plates – how about smoked mackerel pâté, caper berries and toasts or crispy cod fish fingers with lemon mayo? Each is £4 and about four makes you a goodly meal.
We started with a trio of these as a shared starter: hot and crispy calamari, harissa and lime mayo, crispy chilli beef, sweet chilli and coriander relish and king prawn skewers with gremolata and they were great fun. There’s plenty of bread too, which you help yourself to.
Next, I almost had the mussels but went for the sweet and spicy half roasted chicken (£16.50) with plenty of accompaniments – potatoes, slaw and corn wheels. My husband had the house veggie curry which came with rice, a naan, pineapple chutney and cucumber raita at £15.50 and both were very generous portions.
Suffice to say, we didn’t manage desserts – we’d had coffee and cake in the afternoon and I think that did it for us – although my lemon and poppy seed cake was very good!
Breakfast was another triumph with very tasty Eggs Benedict on an English muffin for me and a veggie selection for him. Plus lashings of Earl Grey tea.
What I enjoy about Byfords is its laid back vibe, friendly staff and the fact that you are at the heart of things – I love being able to pop to the shops or to a nearby pub for a drink and then just nip back to my room.
In the town, do seek out the Owl Trail, a 45 minute guided walk which points out and explains some of the notable buildings and people – the town has a very noble past.
Or just do as I did and have a good shop! There are lots of independent stores, including, of course, Bakers and Larners, where you can pass a very nice couple of hours. The Red Dot gallery is another favourite and I love Holt Bookshop, too.
The surrounding area is also a joy. Take the Poppy Line, the North Norfolk Railway with steam and diesel trains, to Sheringham and you’re at the coast, or jump in the car to, say, Cley for a look at that iconic windmill – it’s only five miles away. Or Holt Country Park is just a couple of miles away and is a refreshing change to the beach for a walk.
- A Winter Warmer offer is available until March 28 2019. Enjoy two nights including breakfast, one dinner and afternoon tea for two people from £250. An amazing offer!
Published in Feast, issue 34.