For those who are familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I’m a lover of quirky retreats, heritage travel and stays in guesthouses that are a little off-the-wall. Recently on Twitter I was introduced to a pretty cool company who seem to share my exact same taste in travel (thanks for the intro, The Control Tower!) In fact, our mutual love of the unusual is uncanny.
Host Unusual do exactly as its name suggests – it’s an online directory that showcases a huge selection of unusual holiday accommodation from across the UK. From intriguing architectural hideouts, to windmills and watermills to retro and vintage retreats.
The latter category really caught my eye. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved clothes, films and relics from a bygone age, especially those forty years spanning the 1920s until the 1960s. So, as you can imagine, I was over the moon when we were invited to stay at one of Host Unusual’s newest Best of Suffolk properties, The Vintage House in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
We’re very lucky to live in nearby Norfolk – we have over 90 miles of stunning coastline, not forgetting the picture-postcard countryside, world heritage sites, with many protected RSPB reserves, The Broads and a host of stunning cobbled medieval towns and a cathedral city with its very own castle. And then there’s nearby, Suffolk. Where do I begin? (Now, that’s a different blog post, to follow.)
With all this on our doorstep, it’s pretty easy and very enjoyable to holiday in our own backyard for a cheeky midweek break, sans toddler, to reclaim all the pleasures we once enjoyed before we started a family. Namely, luxuriating in lengthy lunches in beautiful places without having to catch flying hummus, reading in the bath without finding Iggle Piggle wedged into my lower back and shopping in vintage and antique shops without fearing for breakages etc etc.
The 1928 House
Prior to our stay, I started thinking more about the 1920s. What was special about 1928? Well, lots of things as it happens: John Baird broadcasted the first transatlantic television signal from London to New York, The Oxford Dictionary was completed after 70 years, Heinz Baked Beans started manufacturing in the UK for the first time, the first high-voltage electricity pylon for the National Grid was erected and D.H Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was first published, in Italy.
Oh and one more thing. This charming home was built in a sleepy seaside town in Suffolk.
Through the Keyhole
From the moment we opened the spring-green coloured door, it was clear to see that this was a well looked after property. The 1920s attention to detail was remarkable.
In fact, when I first set foot over the threshold, my senses were disorientated slightly; there was a very dream-like quality upon entering. It looked so authentically art deco that I had to check myself a couple of times. The only giveaway that I was still in 2017, was the discrete television, Dualit toaster and the radio alarm clocks, which I didn’t notice until later upon closer inspection. Every thing else felt unflinchingly authentic.
Yet although the owners have clearly gone to great lengths to recreate this era, apart form using modern bedding and retro-looking mod cons, the majority of furniture and soft furnishings were genuine antiques. So much so, at first glance it seemed as though there wasn’t any electricity. That’s because all of the plug sockets are out of sight (they are there though!).
On our arrival, we were greeted by a very inviting bottle of red plonk which was left by the owners on the dining room table for us.
Better still, the lovely folks from nearby Lawson’s Deli sent over a gorgeous hamper of the most incredible antipasti goodies and produce from Norfolk and Suffolk, which I will blog about separately (stay tuned!).
The Things We Loved
Soaking up the history: We loved the consistency of detail given to all aspects of the property, the vintage décor was seamless. From the black cast iron radiators in every room to the original pieces of memorabilia from cameras to a working gramophone (although it sounded a bit scratchy, it was wonderful to hear), an old electric fireplace and period radio. So lovely to be fully immersed in this era.
It felt good to be barefoot: This might sound a bit strange but it was a memory of the house I was left with and felt worth mentioning. The house had the same stunning reclaimed wooden floorboards throughout every single room. The floor felt lovely and smooth on my bare feet. (I guess this stuck out for me personally because it was free of Duplo blocks and jagged dinosaur corpses, just pure smooth oak for miles and miles or at least in the eight rooms where we were staying.)
Art candy for the eyes: Just when I thought I’d taken it all in, I’d spot more detail such as the subtle art deco linear edges of the bed, the dresser and side tables and chairs in each room. It really was a feast for the eyes.
Being deep in bubbles: I loved the beautiful free-standing bath that we took advantage of. Twice. Filled with bubbles and armed with a glass of red, some Booja-Booja and a new collection of poems I bought from the local second-hand bookshop.
Floating on clouds: We slept really well in the beautiful bed. It looked deceivingly small but there was plenty of room, perhaps because it was higher than your average modern bed. It was so comfortable. The bedding was very plump, our bodies melted into the absorbing folds of the clouds. We slept until 8.30am, which is a humongous lie-in for us.
Making a delicious breakfast, simply: The kitchen looked absolutely stunning. Why? It was designed to contain a smart modern-day cooker, a beautiful Belfast sink, wooden work surfaces and an original wood burner cooker with hotplate.
All the ugly-looking mod cons such as a dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer and fridge-freezer were missing. That’s because, the owners cleverly used the larder space to house the most important day-to-day kitchen gadgets, including this gorgeous black SMEG fridge. Ta dah!
Staying somewhere like The Vintage House is a much richer and imaginative way “to do” self-catering. It’s location was perfect – just a short cycle or longer stroll into the main town yet situated on a pretty road, you’re very much part of the community and feel nothing like a tourist, more of a time-traveller.
Essentials: Sleeps up to 4 in double bedroom and twin bedroom, bedding and towels provided, private bathroom, roll-top bath & shower, The White Company amenities, fully equipped kitchen, dual fuel cooker, fridge/freezer, dining room, open coal fires, sitting room, flat-screen Freeview TV, DVD player, iPod docking station, WiFi, garden, patio off-road parking.
What to do in Aldeburgh: Blog post coming soon!
To Stay Here:
To see a wide range of unusual accommodation from across the UK go to http://www.hostunusual.co.uk
A big thank you to The Vintage House, Host Unusual and Best of Suffolk for having us, we had the most wonderful stay! And also to the folks over at Lawson’s Deli – the hamper was such a treat, we savoured it all. (No word of a lie, I am literally nibbling on some Norfolk Mardler with Kim’s chilli jam dribbling down my lips whilst I type this!)