38 St Giles

Norfolk, East Anglia, United Kingdom Book from £95

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
A warm welcome, delicious breakfasts and an excellent night's sleep at this stylish townhouse in central Norwich
This delightful boutique B&B in the heart of Norwich has recently undergone a painstaking face-lift. New owners, a father and son team, have enhanced the exquisite original features of this elegant Georgian townhouse (the former family home of the Gurneys who set up Barclays Bank) with classy paint colours and restrained opulence. At the helm is laid-back gourmet whizkid George whose genuine warmth is manifest from the moment he directs you to their hidden carpark.

You enter the Grade II listed guesthouse via an Italian-style loggia, all is relaxed and calm. Inside are 8 individually designed bedrooms, elaborate ceiling cornices, stain-glass windows and a wonderful balustrade. You get fresh flowers everywhere, a tray of delicious home-made cake, coffee and tea on arrival, 400 thread count linen on sink-into beds, and your own front-door fob to come and go as you please. One of our favourite-ever finds.

Highs

  • Fabulous location on chi-chi St Giles street, one of the Norwich Lanes, which is lined with boutiques, and close to the best restaurants
  • We found both style and substance in spades on our 2015 revisit to check out the new incarnation
  • Utterly delicious breakfasts and cakes
  • L'Occitane toiletries, B&O TVs, handmade Vi-Spring mattresses
  • Norwich itself; unexpectedly pretty with 32 medieval churches and winding cobblestone streets

Lows

  • Four rooms are street-facing although the noise is minimal
  • The guest lounge is petite and shares a space with the reception desk, so you may prefer to book one of the two Suites if relaxing with a book or the paper is high on your agenda
  • No twin beds; this is aimed at couples (though the Gurney Suite has a separate sofa bed)

Best time to go

Any time of year. There are various tourist events throughout the year, and it's an excellent place to do your Christmas shopping. Come in summer if you're heading out to the Norfolk Broads, or in May for the Arts festival.

Our top tips

Build a lie-in into your schedule: the beds are divinely comfy, and the breakfast superb. It would be a crime to rush out.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 8
  • Breakfast only (+ walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Nelson

Rooms

Eight bedrooms, named for Norwich notables and spread over 3 floors, are decorated with a stunning mix of vintage, oriental and modern furniture. All have Vi-Spring handsprung mattresses (so good, we bought one for ourselves), B&O TVs, L'Occitane toiletries and thick towelling robes.

The vast St Giles Suite, accessed by its own staircase, has real wow factor: a stain-glass partition divides the bedroom (complete with fireplace, chandelier and enormous bed) from a decadent bath and separate shower room.

We also loved middle-floor Gurney Suite, which boasts a large fireplace, monsoon shower, kingsize bed (one of the most comfortable we've ever slept in) and a small sitting area with extra sofabed. Across the galleried hallway, the compact but perfectly formed Cavell, where we stayed in 2015, has original cornicing, opulent curtains and a dark-wood sleigh bed.

Above, past a cleverly papered parody of a library, the remaining rooms (Doubles and Large Doubles) are also lovely. Two overlook the street. Expect a medley of colours: tangerine silk curtains, big bronze lamps, a fuchsia armchair or a fabulous red Chinese wardrobe.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The breakfast at 38 St Giles is an absolute treat so our advice is sleep late and come down hungry. There's a full range of organic cereals and yogurts, local jams and honey, along with berry compote, and just-squeezed juice, all beautifully presented on vintage china.

The porridge with poached rhubarb was superb; so too were the poached eggs with hollandaise and salmon. If we'd been staying 2 nights, we'd have tried the buttermilk pancakes with Norfolk bacon and maple syrup. For purists, there's a Full English option.

There are so many good restaurants on your doorstep, George has plenty of suggestions. Recommended are Benedicts (modern British) and the Grosvenor Fish Bar for lunch of fish and chips.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Organic produce
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Shopping: Step out of the front door onto a street lined with lovely boutiques - house-y shops, clothes, cards, the works. Alternatively, stroll around the historic marketplace just down the road, or check out the vintage and antique shops on Magdalen Street such as the huge Looses Emporium

  • There's a wealth of culture, from the Sainsbury's centre for Visual Arts (Picasso, Degas etc) to the Norman Castle, beautiful Cathedral, historic Dragon's Hall, Brideswell Museum and 32 medieval churches

  • Take a walk in the Plantation gardens, established over 100 years ago, with a Gothic fountain, medieval walls and a verdant Victorian-style greenhouse

  • Come in May for the excellent Norfolk & Norwich Arts Festival

  • Drive out to the Norfolk Broads where you can sail, canoe, walk and cycle. These wetlands are home to some fantastic birdlife so don't forget the binoculars

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are welcome and stay for free up until the age of 12, although this is more of an establishment suited to couples and older travellers. George is happy to offer a cereal variety pack at breakfast, and can provide a baby cot, or put up a Z-bed in any room apart from Cavell's Room (the Compact Double). You're ideally placed to explore Norwich on foot with a buggy or small children, and there are lots of family attractions such as the Puppet Theatre or the Inspire Discovery Centre

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Children's meals:

Afternoon tea for children is available on request; variety cereal pack on offer at breakfast

Distances:

  • Airport: 1.5 hours (London Stansted)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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