The Mill Hotel, Sudbury

Exterior of The Mill Hotel, Sudbury

What’s The Mill Hotel like?

This historic former mill, on the banks of the River Stour, is perfectly placed to explore Sudbury and the surrounding areas. A mill has stood on the site for more than 1,000 years and was in operation until 1964. Since then though, the building you see today – which dates back to the 19th Century – has been transformed into a relaxed, unpretentious hotel. The Mill Hotel is part of the Surya Hotels group.

How dog-friendly is The Mill Hotel?

Very. Some reviews I’d read even said it was too dog-friendly – although there’s no such thing, in my opinion! Because of its location, the hotel is incredibly popular with dog walkers and you’ll often find several pooches relaxing in the Meadow Bar. They are welcome there and on the rooftop terrace but not in the Riverside Restaurant. No provisions are provided for pets staying over, so you’ll need to bring your own bedding, bowls and food. There is an extra charge of £10 per dog per night.

Bedroom at The Mill Hotel, Sudbury

Tell me more about The Mill Hotel

There are 62 rooms at the hotel, located in the main building and several meandering extensions. Ours was Room 37, which was on the ground floor, overlooking the River Stour and surrounding meadows. It was quite compact but fine for a short stay and had everything we needed. It was also incredibly quiet. The room had a good-sized bed with a feature tartan headboard, a desk and storage unit and a great selection of teas and coffee, plus complimentary biscuits. There was also a branded pen and paper and some PURE toiletries in the bathroom.

Decor-wise, the room was a little dated but it was spotlessly clean and well-maintained. It reminded me of a Travelodge or Premier Inn room, but better. We loved being able to relax with the window open, listening to the birds tweeting and ducks quacking as they swam along outside. There were lots of cows in the fields nearby too so it really felt quite rural! Another big tick was free car parking – just be sure to register your details at reception. And look out for the mummified cat while you’re there, too. It is thought to date back to the 16th Century, when burying cats alive in a building was thought to protect it from evil spirits.

Riverside Restaurant at The Mill Hotel, Sudbury

What’s the food like at The Mill Hotel?

If you’re after decent pub-style grub, you won’t be disappointed. When we visited, as coronavirus restrictions were easing, the same menu was being served in both the Meadow Bar and Riverside Restaurant. It had a range of small plates, like charcuterie platters and Asian tapas, while locally-sourced meat featured heavily on the main menu. Curries and vegan burgers were also available. The desserts were delicious too and included a Mill-style Eton Mess and a selection of cheese from Essex and Suffolk.

Whether you dine in the bar or restaurant, you won’t be able to miss the fully-restored water wheel that separates the two areas. Food and drink can also be served on the rooftop terrace, which has fantastic views over the town’s water meadows. If your dogs are anything like ours, they’ll be able to watch other pooches enjoying walks with their owners for hours! A basic buffet-style breakfast is served by staff in the mornings, too.

Are there resident dogs at The Mill Hotel?

No, but you will definitely meet others who are staying over or have popped in for a drink with their owners, post-walkies.

Ernie, Stan and dad Nick explore the Sudbury water meadows

Where are the best dog walks near The Mill Hotel?

You can’t beat a walk through Sudbury Common Lands, right opposite the hotel. This ancient wetland spans more than 50 hectares and is managed by a local charity. It’s easy to get to – simply turn right out of the main hotel entrance and you’ll see a gate on the other side of the River Stour. Alternatively, you can walk along the towpath that runs alongside the Common Lands and enter at a later point. Dogs should be kept on a lead here as many cows graze on the land – but we were surprised to see plenty that weren’t. There are also lots of birds such as ducks and swans in the area.

Art lovers will probably know that painter Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbury in 1727. You can visit his birthplace in the town – which is less than a 10-minute walk from The Mill Hotel – but be aware that it’s not dog-friendly. The Gainsborough Trail is, however, and the 3.5-mile Meadow Walk is a delight. The nearby Long Melford Country Park is also a great place to visit with your dog. For more ideas when it comes to pet-friendly things to see and do, check out my Ruff Guide to Bury St Edmunds and the Suffolk Wool Towns.

Stan keeps a watchful eye on the cows going past our bedroom window at The Mill Hotel, Sudbury

What Ernie and Stan loved about The Mill Hotel

Keeping an eye on dog walkers on the towpath – and cows in the surrounding fields, the sausages for breakfast

What I loved about The Mill Hotel

The peaceful location, watching the local wildlife, the friendly service

How to book The Mill Hotel

Rooms start from £75 per night, including breakfast. For more information or to book, call 01787 375544 or visit The Mill Hotel website.

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