Cliff Barns

Norfolk, East Anglia, United Kingdom Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
One of the coolest boltholes in the land - a magnificent cowboy-kitsch barn conversion in deepest Norfolk (sleeps 18-20)
All you need to know is this: Cliff Barns is one of the loveliest places you could ever hope to wash up in - and yes, the name is intentionally reminiscent of Dallas. You step inside and it slowly dawns that all those plans you made for the weekend will come to nothing. Why? Because now you’ve found your slice of heaven, nothing will part you from it.

Three playfully renovated barns encircle a central courtyard. In keeping with the Western theme - which the owners describe as 'Rancho Deluxe' - you get soaring wooden ceilings, slate floors covered with Aztec rugs, cowhide chairs, the odd straw Stetson and moose heads hanging from exposed stone walls. Turn left and you find a fleet of eclectic and fun rooms, each with their own cowboy character; turn right and you discover an enormous sitting room, with a vast stone fireplace.

Best of all is the courtyard. In summer it’s the hub of the house - potter out for a game of ping pong, a soak in the hot tub, or to throw some sausages onto the barbecue. Back inside, the sitting room comes with loads to entertain you: piles of books, mountains of games (some in giant versions), a hifi and WiFi. As for the kitchen, it’s got everything you’ll need, though you may not need it at all as a chef can come in to cook for you. It’s out of this world, so gather a group of friends and come for a big weekend.


  • The Wild West design: kitsch, colourful and cool, but you feel at home immediately
  • The 8 bedrooms would fit in any boutique hotel - there are 5 doubles (4 ensuite), 2 twin/doubles, a Bunk House with 4 bunkbeds, and 2 additional shared bathrooms
  • A really well-equipped kitchen for self catering, plus an array of catered choices (picnic hampers, chefs, menus to choose meals from, a shopping service), and good gastro pubs nearby
  • The courtyard is hidden from the world, a perfect spot in summer
  • Ideal for families, hen and house parties or multi-generational gatherings - with a hot tub, sauna, garden, games and a BBQ there's something for everyone


  • Fully non refundable in the event of cancellation, except in exceptional circumstances and with supporting documentation
  • Marham Airbase is close, but the planes don’t fly at weekends
  • The coast is a bit of a schlep - about 30 km north
  • The village is fine, but you wouldn’t put a picture of it on a chocolate box

Best time to go

House parties are fun at any time of year. Of course the summer months are best for getting out and about and exploring the countryside and coast, but spring and autumn both have their (often blustery) charms.

Our top tips

Even if you are having a wonderful time with all that is supplied at Cliff Barns, it would be a shame to miss out on the splendid North Norfolk coast. Glorious beaches, cosy pubs, historic houses, Cromer crabs, kitesurfing, seals and birding - there's something for everyone.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • House Rental
  • 8
  • Self-catering (chef on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Jacuzzi
  • Bicycles Available


One room is beyond the sitting room, all the rest are on the other side of the house. The style is simple, but Dallas-fantastic and never short on beauty: stone walls, wooden ceilings, funky colours, the best linen. Slate floors run throughout with underfloor heating.

Frontier has a four-poster that appears to have been made from branches; doors here open onto the back garden, while a free-standing bath waits in an airy bathroom. Cabana at the back looks onto the courtyard and has a free-standing bath in the room. Prairie comes in deep red and has saddles draped over beams. A couple have sofas.

Four are ensuite (Hacienda and Prairie have shower bathrooms) while Bunk House shares a bathroom )which has a large slate-clad bath) with the Bunk Room (perfect for families, sleeping 6 between them), and Cabin and Corral share a bathroom (walk-in shower, claw-foot bath). For friends or family, this isn’t a problem. All come with bathrobes and Ren lotions and potions.

There's also a tepee in the garden in which (in good summer weather) additional guests can camp out overnight at no extra charge.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Jacuzzi
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


You eat at an enormous table in the vast airy hall (the dining room is on one side of the front door, sofas and armchairs wait in front of an open fire on the other).

There are options galore. You can look after yourself entirely - there are supermarkets in Swaffham (6km east) and King’s Lynn (13km west). The kitchen is well-equipped so all cutlery, utensils and tableware is provided - including a large larder, catering fridge, food processor and good quality knives and saucepans - and washing up liquid, bin bags, tea, coffee, spices and cooking oil. If you're arriving late at night or want to ease into your holiday, a grocery shop to order can be done for you.

Alternatively, a number of catered possibilities exist. You can arrive to find dinner waiting for you to stick in the oven, you can have your own chef (but you do the washing up), or you can be fully catered with waiting staff to look after you. Detailed menus are available: ask about the Rancho Deluxe (where you can choose an epic 3-course meal from an array of choices) or Groaning Table (select 3-5 items such as pies, quiches, breads, cakes). BBQs can also be hosted. Food is mostly organic and sourced locally if possible. The fact is, you can mix and match - have something waiting for you to cook one night, look after yourself the next, be pampered completely at the end.

If you want to venture forth to sample local eateries, there's an excellent Chinese restaurant in the Old Swan Pub in Narborough. And slightly further afield is the lovely gastropub Ostrich in Castle Acre, or The Berney Arms in Barton Bendish, which is a very good country pub with very good food. The Windmill in Great Cressingham is a charming country inn with traditional pub food, while the Dabbling Duck in Great Massingham is a very stylish country pub noted for its Sunday lunch.

Features include:

  • Chef on request
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Meal delivery service
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
  • Vegetarian menu


  • The north Norfolk coast is about 30km away, but you can potter up on pretty back roads. You’ll find old-fashioned English seaside bliss with rock pools, miles of sand, country pubs and a vast sky. Kitesurfing can be arranged at Hunstanton beach

  • The Brecks are close, a lost land of forest and heath. It is one of those inexplicably unsung parts of Britain, but it teems with fascinating wildlife and is well worth a trip. There’s great mountain biking here too

  • Birding is superb on the coast - head for the RSPB reserves at Titchwell and Snettisham and walk to or alongside the sea for waders, owls and harriers

  • Visit the common or grey seals at Blakeney harbour or Morston Quay, February-October; trips can be arranged

  • Go canoeing on the Norfolk Broads - about an hour's drive away

  • The outskirts of King’s Lynn can hardly be described as attractive, but penetrate the middle and find its medieval epicentre. In the 14th century the town was one of England’s chief ports, part of the Hanseatic League. The architecture is stunning

  • Cliff Barns can arrange any number of entertainments such as Murder Mystery Weekends/Parties, a bucking bronco, casino, live music, themed parties, beauty treatments and massage. Fancy dress box provided

  • For something very different, a 30-minute drive will bring you to Kate's Pottery Masterclass where you can throw a pot on a potter's wheel and make interesting shapes

  • Some great golf courses are available to those who must. Best of all the 3-links courses: Brancaster (the closest), Cromer (the smartest) and Sherringham (the most dramatic, with part of the course running along cliffs)

  • Adrenaline junkies can indulge in Go-Kart racing or ziplining; details supplied on request

  • Country pursuits to try include fishing and sailing, keen gun-slingers can emulate an OK Corral shoot-out with clay pigeons

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Go-Kart racing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Kitesurfing
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Themed parties
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Zip lining


Cliff Barns welcomes families with children of all ages. We particularly like the fact that it's all on 1 level, so there are no pesky stairs for toddlers to fall down; the central courtyard is also secure so kids can play there unattended. It's also dog and pushchair friendly and the owners can put a teepee in the garden in the summer.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Kids would love the Bunk Room - 2 bunkbeds sleeping 4. This room shares a large bathroom (big slate bath with shower, perfect for muddy kids) with the neighbouring double, Bunk House, presumably for parents. Frontier, Hacienda and Prairie can fit an extra bed and there is a twin room if you need it too.


There's a registered childminder available if needed - ask on booking.

Baby listening:

Bring your own

Baby equipment:

  • 2 cots
  • 2 high chairs
  • Bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

It's self-catering with everything you need for tricky eaters, including a blender and microwave. Parents wanting a break from cooking can hire a local chef, get a takeaway or take the family out to eat in the nearby village.

Kids Activities on site:

  • 4 acres of gardens to run around in
  • Games for all ages, including Monopoly, chess and giant Connect 4
  • Farm animals nearby

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Snettisham Park in Kings Lynn for deer safaris, sheep shearing, farm tours and a lovely tea shop (30 minutes)
  • Bewilderwood treehouse adventure park (1 hour)
  • Seal-watching at Blakeney Point (1 hour)
  • Norfolk Lavender, for lavender growing, rare breeds farmyard and a giant indoor play barn (30 minutes)

Families Should Know:

There's nothing particular to worry about, apart from the open fireplace and the fountain in the courtyard. You're only a short distance from the nearby village for all your provisions.


  • Airport: 60 minutes (Stansted), 40 minutes (Norwich)
  • Hospital: 25 minutes
  • Doctor: in the village
Kid Friendly:

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