Welcome to Orford, a little town on the Suffolk coast that’s home to a bakery so good that it once got a mention at The Oscars, a seafood restaurant that’s been selling its own oysters since 1959, a family-run fishmongers with quayside smokehouse and a travelling fish ’n’ chip van that settles outside Orford Castle every Wednesday. Needless to say, we love it.
So much so that a recent visit necessitated an overnight stay just to fit everything in. A few local pubs offer bedrooms (those at The Crown and Castle are particularly plush) but, for something unique, personal and appropriately foodie, you can’t get better than The Wash House Studio.
Owned by Polly and Mike, who live in one of the Coastguard Cottages next door, the studio is literally an old red brick wash house that’s been stripped of its hand pump (it now sits proudly in the garden) and fitted with a foldaway double bed, ensuite bathroom, small seating area and underfloor heating.
Compact, yes, but it’s also cosy, warm and stylish – we liked the original ceiling (it dates back to 1875), collection of antique books, glazed lobby and swish tiled wet room, complete with Suffolk-made Honeybee toiletries. Plus there are beautiful views from the French windows – a rambling garden and shepherd’s hut in the foreground, Orford Ness in the background.
Polly and Mike make considerate hosts. There were gooey homemade brownies coated in dark chocolate on arrival (you can buy more at the country market in the village hall every Saturday), as well as a hand-drawn map of the town, with all the best bits labelled. There’s a fridge in the shed at the bottom of the garden to use if you like – ideal for chilling wine – and fresh milk whenever you want it.
Then there’s the breakfast hamper. Delivered to your door whenever you want it, elegantly covered in a red gingham cloth, it’s a great way to feed B&B guests without intruding on their privacy (or vice versa). Start with local Cox and Bramley apple juice (from High House Fruit Farm, less than three miles away) and follow it with yoghurt and homemade blackberry and apple compote (using fruit grown in the garden), hard-boiled eggs, croissants, homemade berry jam and sourdough toast from Pump Street Bakery – it was The Phone Call director Mat Kirkby, a local, who name-checked Pump Street and its ‘fantastic’ doughnuts in his 2015 acceptance speech.
Everything comes neatly presented in little Tupperware boxes. It took us a good hour to work through the whole hamper – eat yours outside if the weather suits, on a little table for two next to the shepherd’s hut. It’s the perfect way to kick-start a day of exploring delicious Orford.