WHAT’S THE SCOOP? Think of the perfect country pub and The Ship at Dunwich probably comes pretty close. Roaring log fires? Tick. Lashings of Suffolk’s famous Adnams ale? Tick. Great food and comfy rooms? Well, that’s just a bonus. Dunwich used to be a thriving medieval port but much of it was lost to the sea during storms in the 16th century, leaving the sleepy little village that exists today. With so much local history, Suffolk’s Heritage Coast right on the doorstep and the upmarket seaside town of Southwold close by, there’s plenty to see and do here.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Most definitely. Hundreds of years ago, the inn used to be the haunt of smugglers but now it’s mainly frequented by dogs and their owners. When we visited on a busy Sunday lunchtime, there must have been around ten other pups in the pub. Getting to the bar was a bit like an assault course – but one of the very best kind. There were water bowls aplenty and Ernie got spoilt rotten.
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? Retire to one of the pub’s 16 fantastic rooms. We stayed in Seafields – a large yet unfussy marsh-view room with a double bed and two further singles, accessed via a curving staircase. Despite having a contemporary style with retro radios and antique furniture, all of the rooms are packed with character. They each have en-suite bathrooms with posh The White Company toiletries and also come with tea and coffee making facilities.
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Delicious. The Ship features in the 2017 Good Pub Guide and has a one AA rosette for its traditional pub grub with a twist. You can’t leave without trying the homemade Scotch eggs – seriously, they’re that good and there’s even a veggie version! Guests can choose to dine in the bar, restaurant, garden or courtyard but we opted for the cosy conservatory with its twinkling fairy lights. Dogs are allowed everywhere apart from the restaurant so Ernie joined us for dinner and got lots of fuss from the staff. Breakfast was an equally fine affair, with plenty of local produce – and a freshly cooked sausage for Ernie.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? There isn’t a pub dog, so to speak, but I can almost guarantee that your four-legged friend won’t be the only one visiting.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? There’s a great dog-friendly beach just moments from the hotel. If you venture out after dark, make sure you borrow a torch from behind the bar! Dunwich Heath – a mix of forest and moorland – is also well worth a visit. This beautiful nature reserve is owned by the National Trust and offers great walks all year round.
WHAT ERNIE LOVED: Chasing his ball along the beach, being spoilt at breakfast
WHAT I LOVED: The unspoilt surroundings, friendly staff and amazing food
GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: Rooms start from £120 (including breakfast) but look out for special deals, such as half-price breaks during the winter months. You can also take advantage of the hotel’s Inn to Inn Break. For £295, it includes a stay at dog-friendly sister pub The Westleton Crown. There’s a handy map showing how you can walk between the two (there are 3.5-mile and 5-mile options), which makes it ideal for dog owners. For more information, see shipatdunwich.co.uk or call 01728 648219.