“Phenomenal food and a mellow mood at this boutique pub with rooms in a quiet Suffolk village”
Afterwards, wander around the back to the attractive 11-room hotel. Everything is in place for a relaxing stay: kingsize beds, power showers, a DVD library. Sleep deeply, then stride out for a country walk, or visit nearby wool towns and the Suffolk coast. Wonderfully restorative; we loved it.
- Fabulous food, with an emphasis on local produce. When we last revisited, the smoked rare breed bacon and sausages made for one of our best breakfasts ever
- Barely 2 hours' drive from London, it makes a glorious weekend escape from the big smoke
- A fantastic pub with local beers, an extensive wine list and a warm, convivial atmosphere
- Ticks all the boxes in terms of extra: iPod docks, free WiFi, an array of toiletries, waffle robes
- Countryside views from most rooms and various stunning gardens within driving distance
- Rooms lack homely touches, although they are still comfortable and welcoming
- Some of the dining areas have less atmosphere than others. We advise eating in the main pub, which has lovely high ceilings and bit more buzz
- Our bedroom got very hot at night; we had to sleep with the window open
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 11 rooms
- Restaurant and bar
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
A more recent addition to the original pub, the 11 immaculate rooms are housed in The Folly, a weather-boarded building out back. Inside, they come with kingsize beds, top-quality linens, a well-stocked minibar and country views or terraces; some have French doors leading outside.
Even Better Rooms have the added luxury of walk-in showers, and if you really want to push the boat out you can opt for the expansive Best Room with its private terrace and charming Constable countryside views.
Bathrooms are super modern and a real strong point. Most have large bathtubs and all have powerful showers, French toiletries and piles of sumptuous towels. Underfloor heating was lovely in the mornings, but less so in the middle of the night, when the bedroom got rather hot.
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Ipod dock
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
Meals are served in the pub and restaurant area; overall there was a convivial, warm atmosphere, we loved it. We stayed midweek and the bar was buzzing with a mixture of hotel guests and locals. Divided into lots of little sections, the tables felt cosy and private, but the open kitchen acted as a focal point. In summer, there's a stone terrace surrounded by tubs of flowers for alfresco dining, but we were there in autumn and loved the roaring log fire in the middle of the room.
The food itself was utterly delicious. The emphasis is on local produce and hearty portions; happily, we're fans of both. Cute mini-starters of chicken liver pate and a vegetable scone got dinner off to a good start, followed by a stew-like vegetable soup and crab mayonnaise for starters. For the main course, we ordered steak (the gastro-pub litmus test: it was perfectly cooked and absolutely huge). Other options included lemon and thyme chicken or courgette linguine, the 'Catch of the Day' menu has daily changing, freshly caught fish – mussels, halibut and mackerel make regular appearances – including beer-battered fish and chips.
Puddings are perfect, think rum-infused chargrilled pineapple with white chocolate mousse, homemade passion fruit sorbet, and dark chocolate and hazelnut delice. In addition to their excellent Adnams beers, there's an excellent and extensive wine list. There's a special menu for Sunday lunches too.
The chefs are equally passionate about breakfast and the choice was delightful. Between us we tried the mixed berry porridge and eggs Benedict (wonderful), crushed avocado on toast with chilli oil and vine tomatoes (sublime), and the full English (incredible smoked rare breed bacon and sausages). A full range of pastries, cereals, teas and coffees also awaits.
Other nearby dining options include The Sun Inn in Dedham, and Mistley Thorn.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Organic produce
- Vegetarian menu
- Walk out into the beautiful Suffolk countryside; the inspiration for many of Constable's paintings
- Gardening enthusiasts will love Belth Chatto Gardens and The Place for Plants - both are nearby and offer oodles of horticultural inspiration. A little further away is Helmingham Hall Gardens - also well worth a visit
- St Mary's Church in Stoke by Nayland is a local landmark. Its 120ft tower features (out of context!) in several of Constable's paintings
- Historic Lavenham is an easy drive away, famed for its 15th-century church and crooked medieval houses
- Also worth a visit is Long Melford, another former wool town with some excellent antique shops
- Hire a boat at Flatford Mill or Dedham and row through the water meadows of the River Stour
- Tennis, horse riding, fishing and golf can all be done nearby; enquire at reception
- The hotel can also assist with bicycle hire and spa visits
- Further afield, the Suffolk coast is lovely. Head to Aldeburgh for a shingle beach and fishermen's huts selling fresh catches, to Snape Maltings for concerts and art galleries, or to Dunwich Heath, a National Trust reserve with a pebbly beach where once the sixth largest city in England stood, before the sea started swallowing it up
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
Children are very welcome although there are no special facilities for them and the vibe is adult rather than family. Extra beds and baby cots can be provided in some rooms. There is a small dedicated children's menu.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
The Best Room can take a family of four on two extra beds or cots. Families of three can book Flatford (an Even Better Room) or Mistley (a Better Room) which can take an extra bed or cot.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There's a kids menu featuring crowd-pleasers such as pasta carbonara, sausage and mash and fish and chips, with roast dinners on Sundays
- Airport: 1 hour (Stansted)
- Hospital: 15 minutes (Colchester)
- Shops: 15 minutes (Colchester or Sudbury)
The Crown is set in Stoke by Nayland, a lovely village in Suffolk, southeast England. It's around 2 hours' drive from central London.
London Stansted (65km) is the closest airport to Stoke by Nayland, but London Heathrow (165km) is a much busier international hub. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport
The hotel can arrange transfers - see Rates - but as this is a rural area it's worth hiring a car so you can explore while you stay (see below). Alternatively you can take a taxi which will be considerably cheaper if travelling from Stansted.
Colchester is the nearest station (approx 15 minutes' drive from the hotel) and has direct links to London Liverpool Street.
If you want to hire a car, see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to the UK and getting around
- London Stansted 65.0 km STN
- London Heathrow 165.0 km LHR
- Beach 40.0 km
- Shops 0.1 km
- Restaurant 0.1 km