“Personality-packed rural pub with 8 rooms, stunning food and contemporary art, on a historic estate in north Norfolk”
There are 8 rooms: 6 Superior Doubles, 1 Double and 1 Small Double. Two of the Superior Doubles can also be booked together as a 2-bed Suite.
Named after local characters - including gamekeeper James Ellis, who can often be found propping up the bar - the rooms were exquisitely designed and decorated with the highest attention to detail. Nothing is standard or rolled out en masse - it’s all been carefully chosen. You’ll find Chinese bedside lamps, pretty patterned wallpaper, prints of butterflies, hunts and fishing, mahogany side tables, marble bathrooms and cheery antique runners on soft grey carpet.
The Small Double and Double have shower bathrooms, the Superior Bathrooms have rolltop baths, and a couple have showers too. All bathrooms are stocked with luxurious Cowshed products.
Ellis and Parkin were our favourites overall (Superior Doubles): both are quiet and a good size with good views and a bathroom with a window, and Ellis has a kingsize 4-poster bed. Thurston (a Double) and Ward (a Superior Double) are also peaceful and a good size; Langtry and Harbord (Superior Doubles) have good views but are noisier, being above the bar.
Extra beds and cots are available in the larger rooms, and well-behaved dogs are welcome in all rooms.
Guests also have the use of The Stamp Rooms, 2 private sitting rooms downstairs, along with a private dining room, where you'll find an original Lucien Freud on the wall.
As well as being a fully functioning pub with a selection of local ales on tap, the excellent restaurant, presided over by ex-Mark Hix chef Stuart Tattersall, is the main reason to visit. There are 2 restaurant areas, both designed by Martin Brudzinski. The main one sits under a grand elk's head; the second acts as more of an overflow area. The private dining room, which hotel guests can use on request, seats 8. All are warm and characterful with wooden furniture and open fires.
The pub itself is a curious place, collecting a mix of people and furniture including a 13th-century coffin table, modern pine, 17th-century wood panelling, silver plated cutlery and outlandish modern art. All the more to talk about over dinner!
The menu is seasonal, changing with a focus on local food. They smoke their own venison and salmon here, and if food miles are an issue, you'll love that the Gunton Venison has travelled under a mile, and fish is from the coast 4 miles away.
The menu includes the likes of nettle and leek soup, linguini with Brancaster mussels and clams, a mixed grill of Gunton Fallow Deer and steamed treacle sponge plus a shot of sloe gin jelly. The portions are vast and there's an extensive wine list.
For breakfast, you can help yourself to toast and cereal from the pantry or otherwise order off the menu (included) which has some local delights: double fried duck eggs as part of the Gunton fried breakfast, and drop scones with Swafield cured bacon and Alby honey.
During the day, guests have use of the tea and coffee facilities in the pub (there are none in rooms). There are bar snacks and sandwiches available all day, including a Gunton venison sausage roll and parsnip crisps.
For a change of scene, The Vernon Arms is recommended, a local village pub. And a great little find is Cookies, a crab shack on the coast road heading north.
Children are welcome. A rollaway bed or baby cot can be added to larger rooms; there's a supplement charge for 4+ year olds.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
The 2-bedroom Suite is the best bet for a family. Unfortunately these are the 2 rooms situated above the bar so what you gain with space you might lose with a little noise in the evenings... You can also add a rollaway bed or baby cot to the Doubles and Superior Doubles.
The pub has highchairs and a kids' menu, adapting dishes from the main menu where possible but with simple dishes like bangers and mash and roast chicken and vegetables too.