Sculthorpe Mill

Fakenham, East Anglia, United Kingdom Book from Book from £110 per night

Just a hop from Norfolk’s spectacular beaches, this friendly riverside pub-with-rooms boasts flamboyant interiors, laid-back vibes and superb food

Heading home after a glorious day on the beach at Holkham, you might wish you could just stumble upon a welcoming old pub on a sleepy river somewhere. You’d sip gin as the sun sinks over the fields, then dine in style on smoked trout and samphire before wandering upstairs to fall into a sumptuous bed.

Well now you can. Sculthorpe Mill is just 20 minutes inland from the finest stretch of North Norfolk’s coast but far from the thronging hordes at Burnham Market. Steeped in fields, it’s so tranquil here that there’s a nature reserve next door; the mill pond looks like Constable’s Hay Wain. Inside, though, it’s another story. The Peyton sisters (veterans of The Atlantic, and Peyton and Byrne gallery eateries) have poured gallons of style into this quaint 1757 mill, creating warm contemporary spaces with flamboyant touches, and filling 7 spacious bedrooms with luxuries such as super-kingsize beds, Nespresso machines, and drenching rain showers.

But locals flock here for the fabulous food. Executive chef Elliot Ketley has created a brilliant menu, working his alchemy on Norfolk’s finest produce. So spend a few days here, sign off from the modern world, and explore Norfolk’s wondrous beaches.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • The food is phenomenal. Local ingredients made epic
  • Great location, 30 minutes from King’s Lynn: easily accessible from London, Cambridge or the north
  • A whole array of beaches lie within easy reach
  • Modern, stylish and feel-good décor
  • Very comfortable rooms: deeply cosy beds, excellent showers, Nespresso machines and good tea

Lows

  • No lift in this quaint old building, so the 7 bedrooms are reached by stairs
  • No televisions in the rooms – take this chance to switch off from the modern world – but the WiFi is excellent and Roberts Bluetooth speakers are there for your own soundtrack, if you need one
  • This is a buzzy pub, and music from the bar, mellow as it is, can be heard on the top floor

Best time to go

North Norfolk is drier and sunnier than most of the country, so very appealing in spring and autumn. This area still feels relatively un-busy, though naturally, beaches are popular in July and August: get to Wells or Holkham early to grab a parking space. Once on the sand, though, everyone spreads out, and there’s really no overcrowding.

Winters are cosy in Sculthorpe Mill; good for bracing walks on the beach and settling with a book in front of the woodburner.

Our top tips

Come for at least four days, and explore the unsung heroes of the Norfolk coast: after coffee at Stiffkey Stores, walk east along the coastal path to Freshes Creek, or the fabulous beach at Gun Hill. Have lunch at Siding in Melton Constable, and dig about in the auctions and antique shops of Holt and Aylsham, or Fakenham’s market on Thursday. Return to while away the afternoon in the lovely gardens at Sculthorpe Mill.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Inn
  • 7 rooms
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • 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
Room: 3

Rooms

All 7 welcoming bedrooms are decorated in sea blues and greens, with Turkish rugs and weighty scarlet curtains. Windows open on delightful views, unchanged from the mill’s early days: horses splashing through the mill pond, and fields stretching forever. Room 3, where we stayed, came with double-aspect windows overlooking the Wensum River. But the comforts are strikingly modern: super-kingsize beds, fine linen and deep mattresses.

Smart bathrooms have surf-green tiles, pretty wallpaper, and fabulous walk-in showers (except No 5, with a bath), with generous bottles of Norfolk-made toiletries and thick fluffy towels.

There are no televisions but you can play your own music through the Roberts Bluetooth speakers, or just enjoy the babbling river below. This being Norfolk, dogs are welcome in all but three rooms (5, 6, 7). And there are two cosier rooms (more economical) with double beds. Whichever you choose, wake up to a proper Nespresso coffee or a selection of Birchall teas, with fresh milk provided in a neat white thermos, and enjoy the view.

Features include:

  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Hairdryer
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

From Norfolk’s fabulous ingredients, executive chef Elliot Ketley (ex-Soho House) has conjured magic: thick slabs of home-cured trout, prettily strewn with fennel shavings and lime mayonnaise, and, ‘the best squid I’ve had in England,’ my friend declared. It was meltingly scrumptious, but so was my grilled mackerel with celeriac remoulade and gooseberry ketchup. Next to us, teenagers devoured enormous hamburgers and juicy rump steaks.

Nothing here is run of the mill (excuse the pun). The Archangel gin is made with holy water from the Walsingham shrine, no less; the beers are local, the wine list original. Even the bar menu mixes wow-factor with old favourites: from oysters to gourmet pork pies. Choose to eat in cute cosy snugs with vermillion walls, the buzzing modern restaurant upstairs, or magical tables right by the river. No wonder they're winners of a Bib Gourmand by Michelin.

Breakfast didn’t disappoint: both the full English and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on sourdough toast were sublime. Even the dogs get sausages. The food here, in short, is fabulous.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Norfolk’s beaches are terrific. Holkham is iconic, being vast and unspoilt, its golden sand a mile wide in places. Stroll through the Corsican pines towards Wells-next-the-Sea, where there are dunes and – inland – fish and chips
  • Brancaster beach, also sandy, is even better for families: the car park is right next to it
  • Park (free) on the quay at pretty Burnham Overy Staithe and walk the sea wall between marshes to the pristine beach at Gun Hill, with warm shallow pools at low tide. Burnham Overy is ideal too for paddleboarding and sailing (high tide only) to Scolt Head Island. All these lie within an easy 30-minute drive
  • Head further east towards the seals at Blakeney, the shingle beaches of Cley and the creeks at Morston or Stiffkey, or beyond them to Cromer and West Runton
  • This is perfect cycling country, and birdwatching is marvellous all along the coast
  • There are splendid National Trust houses at Felbrigg and Blickling, which has glorious gardens and a lake walk too; Holkham Hall is just over 20 minutes away
  • There's a stunning art collection at the Sainsbury Centre in the University of East Anglia’s campus in Norwich

Kids

Children are welcome at Sculthorpe Mill, and this part of Norfolk is ideal for families, with beaches just 30 minutes away. Babies stay free of charge but note you'll have to bring your own travel cot. We don't think the Mill is especially set up for young children.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Rooms 1, 3 and 7 have comfortable sofabeds which can be made up for two children to share (for a small extra charge).

Families Should Know:

Two rivers run adjacent to the property.

Distances:

  • Airport: 40 mins
  • Hospital: 25 minutes
  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Sculthorpe Mill makes a great base for exploring North Norfolk by bike or car. It is easily accessed from the north and south alike, being only 30 minutes from King’s Lynn, and just 5 minutes from Fakenham. Norwich is less than an hour's drive away.

By Air
Norwich Airport is closest, but this is mainly a domestic hub so most fly into London Stansted, then hire a car or take a train; it's a 2-hour drive.

By Car:
You will likely need a car to get here and explore North Norfolk, see our car rental recommendations.

By Train:
If some of your party are coming by public transport, trains from Liverpool St Station in London reach Norwich in 2 hours (Haveringland). Or travel from London King’s Cross to King’s Lynn in 1.5 hours. From the north of the country, you need to change at Peterborough via Ely for King’s Lynn or Norwich. You'll need to get a taxi from these stations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Norwich Airport 42.0 km NWI

Other:

  • Beach 20.0 km
  • Shops 2.0 km
  • Restaurant 1.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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