THE WESTLETON CROWN, SUFFOLK
WHAT’S THE SCOOP? This traditional coaching inn is sandwiched between Southwold and Aldeburgh on the beautiful Suffolk Heritage Coast. The original building has been around since the 12th Century but there’s certainly nothing dated about this stylish hotel today.
Modern extensions and a light and airy dining room sit nicely alongside more traditional features, such as roaring log fires and a cosy snug. Westleton itself is idyllic too, with a well-maintained village green and duck pond surrounded by cute cottages.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Most definitely. From the moment we walked through the door, staff made a real fuss of Ernie. There was also a blanket and some dog biscuits waiting for him in the room, not to mention a humorous welcome letter with list of local places to take mum and dad for walks. On the Westleton Crown website, you’ll also find a gallery of visiting doggos so be sure to take lots of pictures during your stay and send them in!
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? Relax in one of the 34 perfectly appointed bedrooms, many of which welcome dogs. We stayed in Plover, which had a balcony overlooking the manicured gardens and boasted a comfy king-size bed and sofa next to a flatscreen TV.
The luxurious bathroom came complete with a freestanding tub, rainforest shower and White Company toiletries. There were also tea and coffee-making facilities and some delicious homemade biscuits to nibble on.
Our room was located in the main inn but many are housed in the converted stables and cottages out back. Each of the bedrooms has been individually designed and there is something for everyone, whether you’re after a stylish single or cool, contemporary suite.
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Fabulous. The staff pride themselves on making everything – from the bread to the ice cream – from scratch using local ingredients. The two AA Rosette menu boasts hearty yet sophisticated pub grub with plenty of nods to Suffolk favourites, such as Adnam’s beer-battered fish and chips and Blythburgh pork belly. There’s even a separate vegetarian menu.
Meals are generally served in the lovely Garden Room, which has a huge skylight and bi-fold doors. If you’re dining with your dog, you will not be allowed in the main restaurant but can choose to eat in either the bar – which has a cracking real ale selection – or the snug. We opted to eat by the fire so staff reserved us a table for three, which was very sweet.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? No, but the Westleton Crown is very popular with dog owners so whether you’re staying or just eating, you’re sure to encounter at least a couple of other dogs.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? Once you’ve finished exploring the lovely terraced garden, there are a whole host of walks to enjoy nearby. Westleton Heath, approximately one mile from the village, is a designated National Nature Reserve.
There are numerous pathways that take you through wooded areas, over streams and across open fields so it never gets boring – and in the summer months, the heath becomes a riot of colour, thanks to the abundant local heather. The shingle beach at Dunwich is also close by and it’s dog-friendly all year round.
WHAT ERNIE LOVED: Relaxing in front of the log fire, keeping an eye on everyone from the balcony, the homemade dog biscuits
WHAT I LOVED: The friendly atmosphere, the enormous bath, the delicious 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 Ship at Dunwich. 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 westletoncrown.co.uk or call 01728 648777.