The Crown & Castle, Orford

Exterior of the Crown & Castle in Orford - with castle in the background

What’s The Crown & Castle like?

If fine dining is your thing, you’ll love The Crown & Castle, which bills itself as a “restaurant with rooms”. The award-winning venue – formerly owned by Hotel Inspector Ruth Watson – is practically next-door to Orford Castle and just minutes from Suffolk’s beautiful Heritage Coast. No children under eight are allowed so it’s perfect if you’re looking to check in and chill out with your pooch.

Bedroom at Crown & Castle, Orford

How dog-friendly is The Crown & Castle?

Very. Book one of the five pet-friendly Garden Rooms which, as the name suggests, have direct access to the garden. It’s not enclosed but is handy for late-night ablutions. The rooms also have a little patio with a table and chairs for two. Up to two dogs can stay in the Garden Rooms for £10 per night.

When it comes to dining, there is one bookable doggy table in the restaurant area so make sure you reserve your place well in advance. It’s tucked away in a bay window next to the fire and – with a special paw-print mat and bowl of water for your pooch – it feels rather exclusive! Dogs are also allowed in the bar area, where guests are encouraged to chat. We spoke to one couple who had travelled up from London for their fourth visit in as many months – and I can see why.

Bedroom at Crown & Castle, Orford

Tell me more about The Crown & Castle

There are 21 rooms but dogs are only allowed in the aforementioned Garden Rooms, a short stroll from the main hotel. Ours was cosy yet spacious, with pops of floral decoration and Shaker-style furniture. The WiFi just about stretched down to the garden, which was a great place to spot local pheasants roaming around. There was also complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits and gorgeous-smelling Arran toiletries in the bathroom.

The tongue-in-cheek welcome pack made us smile and cleared up any questions we had about dressing gowns, paracetamol and toilet brushes. (They’re not provided but are available on request, in case you are wondering!) We also loved the sarcastic descriptions of the DVDs that can be borrowed for a £20 deposit. Trying to guess the film from the pithy comments alone turned into a great little game.

Bar area at the Crown & Castle Orford, as viewed through a mirror

What’s the food like at The Crown & Castle?

Excellent. You’ll start with fresh bread from the nearby Pump Street Bakery, followed by locally-sourced dishes such as Orford-landed skate and Blaxhall venison. There is a separate vegetarian menu, as well as an excellent range of desserts and fancy NikoB chocolates to either eat in or take away. The wine menu is also impressive, as is the list of suggested pre and post-meal tipples.

Here’s a tip, though: don’t eat so much that you can’t manage breakfast in the morning. Tea and toast is served straight away, alongside a complimentary copy of the i newspaper. And while you can dine on classics such as the Full English, try one of the more unusual dishes instead. Not many places serve Somerset ricotta on sourdough for breakfast, accompanied by seasonal fruit  and runny honey. It’s a truly decadent way to start to the day.

Are there resident dogs at The Crown & Castle?

No, but there will probably be other pet pooches staying the night or popping in for a drink. It seems like almost everyone in Orford has a dog. My kind of place!

Castle view from the Crown & Castle, Orford

Where are the best dog walks near The Crown & Castle?

Orford itself is a lovely place to enjoy a stroll, especially if you take in Orford Castle. This 12th Century structure – which is actually a keep – is one of the best preserved in England. Dogs are welcome to explore. Adult tickets cost £7.40.

For a woodland walk, head to either Tunstall or Rendlesham Forest, just west of the village. Alternatively, check out Sutton Hoo, where the burial ship of an Anglo-Saxon king was discovered in 1939. The National Trust-run site has 245 acres to explore. See its suggestions for great dog walks here.

It would be wrong not to mention Orford Ness – a stunning coastal reserve just over the River Ore – but sadly, dogs aren’t allowed to visit. You can get a sense of its ethereal atmosphere by walking along Orford spit, however. For more suggestions when it comes to dog-friendly things to see and do, visit my Ruff Guide to the Suffolk Heritage Coast.

Ernie sleeps on the dog blanket provided by the Crown & Castle, Orford

What Ernie loved about The Crown & Castle

The direct access to the garden, having his own exclusive dining area, the fuss from staff and other guests

What I loved about The Crown & Castle

The peaceful location, the fabulous food, the stylish decor

How to book The Crown & Castle

Rooms start from £140 per night, including breakfast. Garden Rooms are from £180 per night. It’s well worth looking out for special offers online too, which generally include evening meals. For more information, visit The Crown & Castle website or call 01394 450205.

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