THE ANGEL HOTEL, BURY ST EDMUNDS, SUFFOLK
WHAT’S THE SCOOP? This historic hotel in the heart of Bury St Edmunds is a real find. With all the delights of the market town on its doorstep and the famous Abbey Gardens just steps away, it is perfectly located for a short break. The Angel was Charles Dickens’ hotel of choice whenever he was in town so anyone booking a stay here will be in good company.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? They sure are. When we visited, there was a porcelain bowl, food mat and Kong toy waiting for Ernie in the room. Staff were also happy for him to be left while we popped out for dinner – even giving us an extra key at reception so we could leave the lights and TV on for him.
Dogs are not allowed in the Eaterie restaurant or bar area, but there is a large lounge where you can go for a drink or enjoy breakfast together. We saw a couple of other dogs chilling out here during our stay. Alternatively, treat yourself and order room service. If your dog is lucky, they might even get a breakfast sausage, too. Dog stays cost £15 for the first night, then £5 for each additional evening.
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? There are three types of individually-designed rooms and suites at The Angel – Classic, Original and Impression. Ours, the spacious Room 21, was in the latter category and it certainly did make an impression. With vibrant green walls, Picasso prints, funky accessories and statement spotty chairs, it felt packed with personality. The bed was enormous, too – I have never stayed anywhere with three sets of pillows before!
There was plenty of storage space hidden away, as well as complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits and a Bose sound system to complement the large flatscreen TV. The fluffy robes and Temple Spa toiletries in the bathroom were lush, and I also loved the fact that the room had its original wooden shutters, which were great for blocking out both noise and light. The concierge service at The Angel is fabulous, too – from the moment you arrive, they will take car of your car and luggage, as well as anything else you need.
Room 21’s location is perfect for anyone travelling with pets – it is right next to the gated entrance where coaches and horses would once have driven through, so outdoor access is easy. There is a blue plaque dedicated to Charles Dickens on the wall outside, too – you can see it in the exterior picture of the hotel above.
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Lovely. The hotel’s modern Eaterie was fully refurbished at the start of 2019 and is a great place to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner. The vibe is very Shoreditch, with exposed brick walls, parquet flooring and crushed velvet sofas. The restaurant was also packed during our midweek visit, which is always a good sign.
The dishes – including pigeon wellington and IPA-battered haddock – use local produce wherever possible and there are also separate vegetarian and vegan menus, showing that the head chef has his finger on the pulse. I enjoyed a deliciously creamy mushroom linguine and can definitely recommend leaving room for dessert.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? No, but you will probably bump into several other dogs in the lounge area and in Bury St Edmunds itself, where many of the shops, bars and restaurants encourage customers to visit with their pets – look out for the Dog-Friendly Bury St Edmunds window stickers with giant pawprints to see where you’re welcome.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? The perfectly-manicured Abbey Gardens are literally opposite The Angel and dogs on leads are always welcome. The award-winning 14-acre site boasts several “gardens within gardens”, as well as an aviary and cute little cafe. It’s all on land where the Abbey of St Edmund once stood, and you can still see the ruins of the Benedictine monastery today.
A word of caution, though – if you have a terrier, beware of the squirrels in the park. Ernie dragged me through a particularly well-maintained flowerbed in a bid to try and get one, which resulted in us getting told off by the groundskeepers. Ooops!
Nowton Park, on the outskirts of Bury, is well worth a visit, too. It has 200 acres of land to explore and some really unique attractions, including a grand lime avenue, a giant maze (open from May to October) and an arboretum, complete with totem poles and wooden pandas. The park is free to enter but remember to take some change for the car park.WHAT ERNIE LOVED: His new Kong toy, the easy access to outside, the sausage for breakfast
WHAT I LOVED: Being in the heart of Bury St Edmunds, the friendly concierge service, the stylish – and spacious – room
GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: A night at The Angel Hotel starts from £139, including breakfast. Price is based on two people sharing a room. For further details or to book a stay, call 01284 714007 or visit the hotel website. For more information about things to see and do in Bury St Edmunds, click here to visit the official tourism website.