Cartshed Cottages

Norfolk, East Anglia, United Kingdom Book from

Reviewed by Abi Dare
A quartet of chic self-catering cottages (each sleeping 2-4), set near the watery beauty of North Norfolk's glorious coast
Our stay at Cartshed Cottages coincided with a brief flurry of snow, and we soon found ourselves wishing for a blizzard to prevent us from leaving. Set just a few miles from the North Norfolk coast in the grounds of Jacobean manor Sharrington Hall, these 4 self-catering hideaways, all with 1 or 2 bedrooms and wonderfully evocative names like Seal, Samphire, Shell and Sky, are very relaxing, very stylish - and very spoiling.

Owner Katie is an interior designer who, along with husband Steve, spent years lovingly renovating this row of traditional flint cartsheds. Inside, her expert eye is evident wherever you look. The beautiful Farrow & Ball’d rooms come in a soothing palette of soft greys, blues, greens and lilacs that reflect the shifting shades of the vast landscapes outside, and the décor is a sophisticated blend of rustic and designer. There are wood-burning stoves for lazy afternoons, roll-top tubs for indulgent soaks, and four-poster beds with excellent mattresses for blissful slumbers. Come summer, the lavender-scented terraces make perfect spots for alfresco meals. Bring your partner or a couple of friends and lounge around with a bottle of wine, or head out to explore the bird-filled marshes, windswept sands and pretty harbour towns that make up this spectacular corner of England.

Highs

  • A tranquil setting in the tiny hamlet of Sharringon, yet there are gastro-pubs, beaches and boutiques within a short drive
  • Envy-inducing design in every cottage. Sleek Starck chairs sit by driftwood lanterns, reindeer skins adorn oak floors, and pebbles cover the walls of the huge walk-in showers
  • Bespoke kitchens with everything you need to whip up feasts from Norfolk's fantastic produce and tasty seafood
  • Plenty of pampering touches - hot-water bottles, scented candles, Ren toiletries, wine waiting on arrival, even brand-new towels for every guest
  • Steve and Katie live at neighbouring Sharrington Hall and are on hand for anything you need. They also provide a handy list of local insider secrets, covering everything from oyster shacks to their favourite walks

Lows

  • No children under 10 are accepted - the cottages are better suited to romantic breaks, small groups of friends or families with older kids
  • You’ll need a car to get here, and to drive out for dinner if you don’t fancy cooking
  • Sky's bedrooms have open-plan ensuites, and the loo in one isn't enclosed
  • Mobile phone coverage is patchy
  • There’s a 3-night minimum stay, with a 7-night minimum in the cottages over Christmas and New Year, and changeovers are on Fridays and Mondays only. There's also a strict payment and cancellation policy

Best time to go

North Norfolk has something to tempt you at any time of year - blustery coastal walks and cosy fires in autumn and winter, empty beaches and migratory birds in spring, and boat trips and alfresco meals in summer. The weather here is generally brighter and drier than elsewhere in UK, but even if the sun doesn’t shine you’re guaranteed big skies, beautiful landscapes and lung-fulls of fresh sea air.

Our top tips

Don't miss the chance to tuck into some of the fresh-from-the-boat seafood available in the area. Try The Oyster Shack in Blakeney for delicious shellfish, Cookies in Salthouse for Cromer crab and great-value lobster, and The Smoke House in Cley for all sorts of home-smoked fishy treats.

Great for...

Beach
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 4 cottages sleeping 2-4
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
  • Over 10s 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
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Shared laundry
Room: Shell

Rooms

The décor of each cottage echoes a different aspect of Norfolk’s land- and seascapes, but all epitomise rustic-chic, with beamed ceilings, huge hearths and wood-burning stoves.

We stayed in slate- and charcoal-hued Seal, the only 1-bedroom cottage. It's a wonderfully cosy couples’ hideaway, with a fireside loveseat in the open-plan living area, a table for 2 flanked by black 'Panton' chairs, and a spiral staircase twisting up to a bedroom with a four-poster, an in-room tub and a chaise-longue. There’s also a separate shower room.

The 2-bedroom cottages are ideal if you're coming with friends or older children, but reduced rates are available if there are only 2 of you. Shell is the largest, with an elegant taupe and oyster-pink scheme, conch-encrusted mirrors and shimmering shell-like lights. There’s a big kitchen-diner with a chunky wooden table, a separate lounge, and a landing with a window seat. One bedroom has a four-poster and double doors opening to an ensuite with a cast-iron tub, the other has an ensuite shower room and a super-kingsize bed that can be set up as 2 singles on request.

Similar in size is Sky, which comes in a spectrum of pale blues, moody greys and deep indigos. We loved the spacious lounge with its Starck ‘Ghost’ chair, L-shaped sofa and dip-dyed cushions, and the calming colours in the bedrooms (one a kingsize with a shower, the other a super-kingsize/twin with a tub). Be aware that there are open doorways between the bedrooms and their ensuites (one without an enclosed loo).

Decorated in the delicate grey-greens of the local salt marshes is the smaller but equally enticing Samphire. It has an open-plan kitchen and lounge, 2 bedrooms (one a double, the other a super-kingsize/twin), and a shared bathroom with a tub and separate shower.

All cottages have iPod docks, WiFi, flat-screen TVs and DVD players, plus flower-fringed terraces with a table and chairs. There are lots of littles luxuries, too - scented candles, hot-water bottles, Ren toiletries and brand-new bundles of fluffy towels.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Oven
  • Satellite tv
  • Shared laundry facilities
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wood-burning stove (logs provided)

Eating

The hand-built wooden kitchens have everything you need for taking advantage of Norfolk’s fantastic local produce - Belfast sinks, range ovens, hobs, dishwashers, fridges, snazzy kettles and toasters, cafetières, crockery and cutlery, and utensils galore. There’s also additional freezer space, together with shared laundry facilities, in an outbuilding (particularly useful for guests in Seal, which has no freezer of its own).

On arrival you’ll find tea and coffee for that all-important post-journey cuppa, together with a bottle of wine and basics such as washing-up liquid, dishwasher tabs and bin bags, but you’ll need to stock up on everything else. Just a mile along the road to Holt is a wonderful deli and farm shop called Back to the Garden, which has a huge range of organic meat, cheeses, fruit and veg, plus artisan pasta and sauces. In Holt itself you’ll find a cavernous food hall at family-run department store Bakers & Larners, as well as all the normal butchers, bakers and greengrocers. And in summer you can wander up the lane to Sharrington Strawberries for jams and just-picked fruit.

There’s no shortage of options for dining out within a short drive, either, and Steve and Katie provide a helpful list of their favourite eateries in every cottage. We headed 10 minutes up the road to gastro-pub The Wiveton Bell, where we feasted on freshly plucked Morston mussels, towering gourmet burgers and hand-cut chips in front of a crackling fire. If you’re here in warm weather, it’s worth making a beeline to The White Horse in Brancaster Staithe for local ale and deep-fried oysters, served on a lovely deck with views across the salt marshes to the sea.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Oven
  • Toaster
Eating: Shell
Activity: Cley

Activities

  • Meander along the North Norfolk coast, just 10 minutes away by car and renowned for its beautiful light and vast horizons. There are plenty of seaside towns to potter around along the way, including Blakeney (a gentrified fishing port with sweeping views), Wells-next-the-Sea (where colourful beach huts line the sand) and Cromer (famed for its crab-fishing and Victorian pier)
  • Head to Cley, a lovely little village marooned among salt marshes. Practice your camera skills at the postcard-pretty windmill, then browse handmade pottery and jewellery at artisan co-operative Made in Cley
  • There are more shopping opportunities in Holt and Burnham Market, both packed with delis, art galleries and homeware boutiques
  • Spot birds around the marshes and creek at Morston. The area is a twitcher's paradise, with owls, egrets, herons, waders and harriers
  • Or visit grey seals at Blakeney Point. Boat trips run from Morston Quay and Blakeney Harbour between April and October (book in advance). Keep your eyes peeled and you might even spot a head bobbing around in the water from the shore
  • Pack up a picnic and stretch your legs on the wide, golden sands of Holkham Bay. The sense of space is incredible, and the dunes give way to fragrant pine forest criss-crossed by boardwalks. It’s spectacular at sunset, and after dark when razor-sharp skies make for excellent stargazing
  • Marvel at the magnificent interiors, gardens and deer park at Holkham Hall, or head to National Trust-owned Bickling Hall (once home to the Boleyn family) for impressive Jacobean architecture and a lake. Both host outdoor concerts in summer
  • The Norfolk Broads are within easy day-tripping distance for all sorts of watery adventures, from boat hire to water-skiing

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Water-skiing
  • Wildlife

Kids

Only children aged 10 and over are accepted, but any of the 2-bedroom cottages (Shell, Sky and Samphire) would make an excellent base for a family with 1 or 2 older kids. All have bedrooms which can be set up as twins on request, and North Norfolk’s sandy beaches and seal colonies are sure to appeal. Note that no extra beds are available, so each cottage can accommodate a maximum of 4 people.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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