The Crown and Castle Orford is tucked away in the pretty Suffolk village of Orford but the food served at its acclaimed restaurant would stand up to competition from any city venue. Orford itself is tiny but it packs in pretty much everything you’d expect from a classic English location, with a medieval church – the massive 14th century St Bartholomew’s – a handful of shops (including an honesty box newsagents), a couple of pubs, a restaurant, a cafe and even its very own castle.
Exploring Orford in Suffolk
Visitors can wander down the road past the church to the quayside, head along the River Ore past the National Trust site of Orford Ness before circling back for a walk around the castle. They could fit in a drink at the Kings Head before dinner and B&B at the Crown and Castle and consider themselves to have seen pretty much all the sights of Orford.
However this brief summary doesn’t really do justice to the charm of this historic village. It might be small but there’s a lot going on – the Village Voice newsletter I read over a pint of Adnams in the Kings Head was full of concerts, quizzes, sporting events and club notices – and the unassuming Crown and Castle Orford is actually known as one of the best dining pubs for miles.
A stay at the Crown and Castle Orford
I stayed at the Crown and Castle having come straight from its sister (but very different) hotel The Brudenell at Aldeburgh (and before heading onto another in the group, The Swan at Lavenham). The Crown and Castle used to be owned by Ruth Watson, the original ‘Hotel Inspector’ in the TV series of that name, but she sold it a couple of years ago to Suffolk-based hotel group The TA Hotel Collection (recently renamed The Hotel Folk).
While the other two are sizeable hotels, the Crown and Castle Orford instead bills itself as a restaurant with rooms and the star of a stay here is indeed the award-winning food, given two AA rosettes and featured in the likes of Sawdays and the Good Hotel Guide.
However as a place to stay and explore the area it also ticks all the right boxes, with charming, well-designed rooms both in the main building and in various cottages.
Bedrooms at the Crown and Castle Orford
We stayed in a Garden Room of which there are six, just a few steps from the restaurant and with its own terrace and garden which will be great in the summertime. The room was spacious, with an immaculate bathroom, large TV, kettle, wardrobe and everything you could expect from a hotel room, and a fun plus point were the entertaining and quirky film reviews written by a staff member (all the DVDs were free to borrow).
If you’ve already stayed at the Crown and Castle Orford then check out some of these lovely Suffolk hotels nearby:
There are 21 rooms in total, ranging from suites and terrace rooms and Good, Better and Best room in the main house, and most enjoy a great view of Orford Castle, just a few yards away. Only ten minutes from the front door and you’re at the River Ore quayside which not only has a lovely farm shop and smokehouse called Pinney’s but has great walking trails and views across to Orford Ness nature reserve.
Dinner at the Crown and Castle Orford
After all that walking, the highly-anticipated evening meal back at the Crown and Castle Orford did not disappoint. There is a bar area for the exclusive use of hotel guests were we could enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail (there was an extensive cocktail and sherry list) but we chose to go straight through to the restaurant, which was elevated from the usual pub restaurant with its interesting artwork and use of colour. The staff were attentive, the service was prompt and the head chef Rob Walpole was clearly someone who not only knew a lot about food but really enjoyed his work [Sept 2021 update: Rob has since moved on from the Crown and Castle and Jake Lawrence is the new head chef].
The menu was a delight to read, with a strong emphasis on seafood and shellfish – lots of salmon, rock oysters, skate, crabs prawns and even Felixstowe sprats – but other treats such as Italian-style aperitivo ‘cicheti’ to share, roast pheasant, breast of Suffolk lamb, slow-roast pork belly and wild halibut.
We started with casarecce – Sicilian, short twisted pasta – with duck ragu (also available as a main) and a plate of rock oysters, followed by the breast of lamb and an absolutely massive shortcrust steak and kidney pie which was the stand-out dish of the evening in a an excellent dinner.
Amazingly we managed to fit in a chocolate Nememis (accurately described on the menu as squidgy mousse-cake) which was delicious but there was also a huge list of teas, dessert wines, chocolates and Neal’s Yard seasonal cheeses on offer as well.
Breakfast at the Crown and Castle Orford
Breakfast was equally first-class with a friendly menu stating that ‘we serve tea and toast straightaway – please just say if you would like more later on’ and a full list of suppliers of the English breakfast including Dingley Dell bacon, Revett’s of Wickham Market sausages, Pump Street Bakery bread and High House farm loganberry jam – ‘probably the best jam you’ll ever eat.’ The sheer enthusiasm for good food, locally-sourced really shone through at the Crown and Castle and made for a really memorable, foodie-friendly stay.
Hotel information and to book The Crown and Castle Orford
The Crown and Castle, Market Hill, Orford, Suffolk IP12 2LJ
01394 450 205
DB&B to include a two-course a la Carte dinner is from £220 for a Good House room, £310 for a Best House and £360 for the Suite.
For B&B only then a Good House is £160, Best House £250 and £310 for the Suite. DB&B on Fridays and Saturdays is a two night minimum stay.
If you want to discover some more great dining pubs then check these other great pub reviews: A relaxing stay at the historic Spread Eagle, Midhurst; The Bull at Sonning: a perfect example of a great British pub; Good taste in every sense at Adnam’s Swan pub at Southwold