Explore North Norfolk with a relaxing long weekend at staycation at The Harper
Reviewed by Emma Kemsley | @emma_kemsley
The birds cooed as they soared across the blue sky above the flint walled terrace. Olive trees rustled in the gentle breeze. The sun shone on guests and the sound of soft chatter and the clinking of glasses filled the air. It could be mistaken as a scene somewhere in the Mediterranean at the height of summer, but no, this was Norfolk’s newest boutique hotel, The Harper.
Located in the pretty village of Langham, a hotel of this calibre has been long overdue in North Norfolk. Ideal for city dwellers, cool couples and groups of friends, The Harper brings style and sophistication to the county.
Set in a former glass-blowing factory, the hotel opened in summer 2021 and firmly established itself as a go-to staycation destination for those looking to escape the crowds. Even when at full capacity, the hotel is serene.
Forget everything you know about Norfolk’s rough and rustic vibe, at The Harper tradition is mixed with contemporary features. The interior is eclectic with botanicals filling the entrance, neon wall art, an industrial style bar and quirky den complete with snooker table, huge projector screen and plump, comfy leather sofas. However, perhaps the most notable part of this hotel’s interior design, especially if you’re a wine lover, is the walled wine dispenser. For ease or after-bar hours, simply insert your room card and select from a choice of white and red wines.
There’s no pokey bed and table here. The rooms are huge. Aptly named big, bigger and biggest, rooms are decorated with original art, and include four poster beds, desk and chair for remote workers and top-notch appliances. Switch off and read in one of the comfy armchairs, or kick back on the deluxe bed, with an in-room bottled cocktail crafted in Bury St Edmunds and Netflix on the big screen. Bathrooms have a spa-like feel with rain showers and quality products, while the biggest rooms include a bathtub too. The biggest rooms either overlook the terrace with a Juliet style balcony or have direct access. Whatever room you choose, the hardest part will be leaving.
Food and Drink
You can eat just about everywhere at The Harper, after all you’re there to relax, and staff make it easy to do so. The bar is the place for a cocktail or casual dining, while the yard at the centre of the hotel, is perfect for sunny days or balmy evenings. The open fire pit and festoon lighting call visitors to enjoy an evening drink al fresco under Norfolk’s starry sky.
Stanelys, the main restaurant, serves up the best of East Anglian produce where possible. Ideal for evening supper, but also breakfast and leisurely lunches, the menu includes inventive takes on meat and fish dishes. Alternatively, guests can dine at Ivys, located next to the restaurant, this area is laid-back with comfy couches and low tables.
During my stay, I tucked into a tasty garlic-fuelled seafood spaghetti, scallops and 16-hour braised short rib of beef, among many other delights. My dining companions chose an enviable Norfolk Estate 20oz ribeye to share. Like the interiors, The Harper adds a touch of flare to otherwise traditional dishes. The wine menu is impressive too!
The bar and restaurant are for hotels guests only. A bold choice by The Harper, but it works. The exclusivity makes you feel as though your part of a members only hotel, but without the hefty price tag.
Relaxation is key at The Harper. Everything about the hotel compels you to slow down. And where better to do so than with a dip in the pool. The wellness area also includes a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room and a menu of treatments. I opted for a 25-minute express facial for a quick rejuvenation fix.
During the pandemic, the spa was available in allocated timeslots. The hotel has continued with this format. Once again providing that exclusive feel, guests can book 30-minute spa sessions, meaning no jacuzzi sharing with strangers, bliss!
Norfolk is known for its natural beauty, stunning landscapes and wildlife. If you can pull yourself away from the The Harper, take a trip to nearby Blakeney. The small coastal town has long been favoured by weekend breakers. Artisan bakery, Two Magpies, recently opened their doors to a café just steps from the Quay. Coffee and cake in hand, follow the Quay footpath to Morston. For a hearty pub lunch book a table at the Anchor Inn. A classic Norfolk pub with rustic floorboards, wooden tables, local ales and good grub. Work off lunch and continue on the footpath towards Cley-next-the-Sea, a small village famed for its windmill, birdwatching and marshes.
Norfolk is loved just as much by our four-legged friends and The Harper is happy to welcome dogs as much as their owners. There are doggy biscuits available around the hotel and after long walks, pooches can be washed down in the outside rolltop bath. There are large hamper baskets for clean and dirty towels at the entrance too.
For those who like their cocktails sharp, wifi fast and interiors cool, The Harper is the place for you.
Rooms start at £175 per night.