A stay at Rectory Manor
The Rectory Manor Hotel near Lavenham in Suffolk is a hotel stay like no other. For a start, it’s more like a B&B rather than a hotel, offering bed and breakfast ‘in the style of a hotel’ (according to its website), but as breakfast is charged separately to the room price, it’s more like a B with optional B.
A stay at Rectory Manor Hotel
The main unique quality of The Rectory Manor Hotel though, is that it’s just like staying in a grand family home rather than a hotel (or a B&B) and that’s because this it literally what you are staying in – the grand family home bought by the current owner’s parents some 40 years ago.
When they passed on just over a decade ago, Frank Lawrenson decided to run this sprawling, classic, Victorian mansion as a hotel/B&B, keeping many of the homely aspects such as family photos, books and ornaments everywhere, while making all the rooms en-suite and giving them some design flairs entirely of his own.
There are seven large, individually-styled rooms at The Old Rectory Hotel, liberally mixing old and new styles in a quirky melange. Frank is fond of large, statement design pieces, so some rooms will have vast murals of Venice or recently-acquired tapestries, while others (such as our bathroom) will have 70s-style white Formica bathroom suites.
Looking for hotels in Suffolk?
Milsoms Kesgrave Hall, Suffolk: a friendly, fun hotel stay
The Crown and Castle in Orford, Suffolk: a spot of food heaven
Medieval charm with a modern twist at The Swan in Lavenham
A seaside stay on the Suffolk coast at the Brudenell, Aldeburgh
Good taste in every sense at Adnams’ the Swan in Southwald
Talbooth House, a memorable stay at a lovely country house hotel
What they all have in common though, are little luxuries which you wouldn’t find in your average hotel, such as an honesty drinks cabinet so you can help yourself to wine, beer, spirits and crisps and settle up later, in-room decanters and in our case, a four-poster bed.
The historic village of Lavenham
Rectory Manor hotel is just a few minutes’ drive from the lovely and historic Suffolk village of Lavenham, known for its colourful half-timbered buildings. Harry Potter fans will recognise it from the films as Godric’s Hollow, the birthplace of Harry Potter (his former home, called in real life De Vere House can be seen down Water Street and is a B&B itself) and there’s the four-star hotel The Swan at Lavenham just on the corner with the High Street.
Arriving at Rectory Manor Hotel
Just a few minutes’ drive away is the Rectory Manor Hotel itself, opposite the pretty St Peter and St Paul’s Church, and automatic gates will invite you onto the property and its sweeping drive.
As a family home it is really quite impressive, and two friendly dogs might possibly come out and greet you, as will the owner. Frank is an affable, friendly host more than willing to show guests around and tell them about the history of the house, parts of which are said to date back 1,000 years.
Off the wide entrance hall to the left is the lounge, with comfortable sofas, an open fire, a piano and lots of books, games and family photos, while off to the right is the large and airy breakfast room. This has a large communal dining table and lots more photos, artwork and objects on the walls, including a large portrait of Frank which watches down from on high.
It does seem slightly odd staying in someone else’s house at first, particularly as there is so much of the family visible everywhere – family photographs both historic and recent adorn every surface – but you soon settle into the spirit of Rectory Manor, which is to relax, treat the place as your own home for the night, and enjoy having a unique experience which is very different to your typical hotel or B&B.
Bedrooms at Rectory Manor hotel
Up the wide staircase are three large bedrooms, where Frank and his family used to live (Frank still lives in the main house) and these have all been kept in a traditional family home style rather than being decorated in a uniform manner.
Our bedroom, called the Morning Room, had a four-poster bed – high and extremely comfortable – as well as a desk, drinks cabinet, large wardrobe, Smart TV and a vast en-suite bathroom. The bathroom was carpeted, as are many others, which is possibly in keeping with the family home style but might put some people off, and there was a roll-top bath in the middle of the room, a separate shower cabinet, an old-fashioned loo in the corner and the aforementioned Formica bathroom cabinet. There are ample white fluffy towels, Penhaligon toiletries and lots of piping hot water whenever you need it.
There was a vast ‘Bridge of Sighs’ mural on the bathroom wall, and the other bedrooms had similarly epic decor, which is certainly distinctive. All rooms have free wifi throughout, tea- and coffee-making facilities, fresh milk and complimentary water, minibars and cut-glass decanters filled with gin and whisky for a nightcap or two (there’s ice in the fridge, another thoughtful touch).
Frank is insistent that no food is eaten in any of the rooms – he’s had to replace carpets because of mess left by previous guests – and as there is no restaurant on site, we headed back to Lavenham for a drink and a bite to eat.
Frank is happy to recommend local pubs and restaurants and there is certainly a lot to choose from in the local villages, including Number 10 or The Greyhound, both in Lavenham, the Bildeston Crown or the Swan Inn in Long Melford. Once back at the hotel, we had a night-cap by the fire in the lounge and started to feel truly at home.
Breakfast at Rectory Manor hotel
After an excellent sleep, helped by the shutters blocking out all extraneous light, and the mattresses which Frank had personally selected after extensive research, we were looking forward to breakfast, which didn’t disappoint. There was a selection of fresh fruit, cereals, salami, yoghurt and cheese laid out for us to help ourselves, and then there was the option of a Full Suffolk Breakfast made to order by the friendly staff which of course we both couldn’t resist. (Breakfast is charged in addition to the room rate, at £12 pp for the continental breakfast and and extra £5 pp for the cooked breakfast).
With dry-cured bacon, Suffolk sausages, fried tomatoes and eggs is was a suitably hearty start to the day, and as the Rectory Manor hotel breakfast room is set up as a communal table, we got to meet our fellow guests as well, a couple who were touring the county.
After breakfast we had a tour around the property with Frank, who showed us the gardens which include a tennis court and an outdoor swimming pool, open in the summer. The separate stables building houses several more bedrooms, done in a more modern style but still with the unique flourishes which characterises the rooms at Rectory Manor.
Frank clearly loves his role as host, keen to talk about his family history and the surrounding areas, but also able to let you enjoy your stay as you wish. Judging by the glowing reviews on Tripadvisor, Rectory Manor has certainly struck a chord with guests who are looking for something a little different from a hotel stay, and as the international markets continue to open up, I’m sure it’ll also be a huge draw with overseas guests looking for a quintessentially British experience.
Hotel information and to book Rectory Manor hotel
Other hotels in Suffolk you’ll love: Milsoms Kesgrave Hall, Suffolk: a friendly, fun hotel stay; The Crown and Castle in Orford, Suffolk: a spot of food heaven; Medieval charm with a modern twist at The Swan in Lavenham; A seaside stay on the Suffolk coast at the Brudenell, Aldeburgh; Good taste in every sense at Adnams’ the Swan in Southwald; Talbooth House, a memorable stay at a lovely country house hotel;
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