With its vast open skies, white sand beaches and quaint seaside towns and villages, it’s easy to fall in love with the North Norfolk coast. And if you’re looking for somewhere special to rest your head, Barsham Barns, near Blakeney, is hard to beat.
This complex of six historic farm buildings has been transformed into seriously chic self-catering holiday lets (think freestanding bathtubs, a wealth of wood beams and feature flint stone walls), sleeping from four to 14 people.
The barns can also be booked together for large group gatherings (sleeping 52 in total). The Great East Barn is the grandest offering, with a huge open-plan living area, ideal for parties, and six double bedrooms. And High Barsham wins the most stylish award, thanks to its gorgeous Moroccan-inspired interiors (bronze lanterns and lots of coloured glass).
Barsham Barns – a beautiful, rural escape
Barsham Barns is in the heart of the countryside, so expect to navigate down a few narrow rural lanes! But if you’re looking for peace and quiet, you’ve come to the right place.
I pulled up with a group of friends after a long three-hour drive from London, and the open views over fields and woodland were like instant therapy.
Despite the size of the complex, though, the entrance to our home for the weekend – the smallest of the properties, The Loose Box – wasn’t immediately obvious, as it was tucked away amid some of the larger barn conversions. So make sure you arrive in daylight, if possible, to avoid driving in circles!
SMALL AND BEAUTIFUL
The Loose Box – originally a smithy and some very roomy stables for the estate horses – comfortably sleeps four people in two double bedrooms (one of these can be made up into a twin room if you ask).
It’s snug, but not cramped – definitely large enough for my three friends and I – with a shower room, utility and open plan kitchen/sitting/dining room, all decorated in a soft, chalky, coastal-inspired palette, overlooking an enclosed sunny courtyard. It was too cold to sit out there when we visited, but would have been a lovely sun trap in the summer months.
One of the guest bedrooms at The Loose Box
The main living room/kitchen
The second guest bedroom
SWITCHING OFF AND CHILLING OUT
There aren’t many self-catering cottages that offer an on-site spa room, but then Barsham Barns isn’t your run-of-the-mill holiday let.
It’s nothing elaborate (no steam rooms or saunas), but the jacuzzi is massive and is housed in a characterful, beamed barn that can be exclusively booked for your party for free in two-hour slots. It was the perfect place to relax on our girly break, with a glass of prosecco in hand.
THE LOCAL HAUNTS
We ventured out to nearby Little Walsingham, where we found a charming boutique hotel and restaurant called the Black Lion.
It had a buzzing atmosphere, roaring log fire and a menu full of indulgent comfort foods – I ordered the warm game terrine and Walsingham Farm Shop “pie of the day” (chicken and ham). The portion sizes were generous, to say the least.
Our other favourite restaurant was The Globe Inn, overlooking a leafy Georgian square at Wells-next-the-Sea, where we enjoyed a mean fish and chips.
Local pub the Black Lion serves amazing comfort food
Above and below: the dining room at the Black Lion
STRETCHING OUR LEGS
Barsham Barns is situated close to the north Norfolk Coast, just 10 minutes from Wells-next-the-Sea, which has a real vintage seaside town feel.
It’s a place of rock shops, amusement arcades and chippies, rather than gastro pubs and art galleries. We wandered the peaceful harbour with its bobbing fishing boats and browsed the small independent shops along the promenade.
Though we weren’t staying in the ‘Royal District’ – the upmarket towns of Cley Next the Sea and Burnham Market, close to Sandringham (and Kate and William’s country pile) – they are easily reached by car, too. Head here for expensive clothing boutiques and upmarket interiors shops.
Burnham Market (nicknamed Chelsea on Sea) is achingly pretty, with low-lying cottages and an ivy-clad pub, The Hoste Arms, all clustered around a central green.
Cley also has pretty shops, galleries and cafes, but is famous for it’s lovely Cley Marshes circular walk if you want to stretch your legs and appreciate a blast of refreshing sea air.
It’s less than three miles long and will take you about an hour and a half to two hours. It’s great for spotting birds, and there are also World War II relics in the form of a Pill box and gun turret.
After walking, we enjoyed coffee and cake at Artemis, an antiques store and café back in town with a wonderful outdoor terrace.
It was a chilly autumn day when we visited, but we wrapped up and sat out there anyway, soaking up the uninterrupted views over the sea, salt marshes and Cley’s idyllic 18th century windmill (now a luxury bed and breakfast, and wedding venue).
Wells beach selfie
The beach at Wells
Burnham Market (above)
Achingly idyllic Cley-Next-The-Sea
The Quay, Cley Next the Sea
Sadly, our wifi at The Loose Box was on the blink the entire weekend. The management promised this hadn’t happened before, but couldn’t seem to fix it during our stay. But it was a small niggle on an otherwise wonderful weekend break – and really did encourage us to switch off completely!
If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-track luxury, Barsham Barns is ideal. It’s perfect for peaceful weekend retreats or large group gatherings, though is close enough to civilisation that you won’t feel completely cut off.
TAKE ME THERE:
Address: Lower Farm Barns, Green Way, Walsingham NR22 6AP
Telephone: 01328 821744
Author: Kirsty Nutkins
Kirsty is an experienced journalist and travel writer, currently working on a national newspaper supplement as Features and Travel Editor. She is the founder of TravelLuxe.co.uk.