Tuddenham Mill hotel, High Street, Tuddenham, Suffolk IP28 6SQ
It had been one hell off a week, in fact it had been one hell of two weeks. So when we were given to opportunity to stay at Tuddenham Mill we booked a day off, packed an overnight bag and jumped in the car for an unwind weekend.
An hour and a half after leaving home, including the usual Friday Dartford tunnel queuing time, we arrived in the tiny village of Tuddenham. Situated roughly half way between Newmarket and Bury St Edmonds in Suffolk, it’s the ideal distance for Londoners to escape for a couple of chilled nights away.
And chilled it was, we were staying in one of the four loft suites, as soon as we stepped through the door we knew that every effort has been made to make you feel spoilt. A Mr & Mrs Smith CD was playing ideal chill out music, instantly our tense shoulders sunk back down, any stress a distant memory.
As the brochure says ‘Tuddenham Mill offers a unique blend of contemporary luxury and historic Suffolk rusticity. Old oak beams and sleek glass. Big skies and cool interiors. Tranquil water and seductive aromas.’ We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
Beside the oversized bed there was a little decanter of homemade Sloe Gin, we were warned to drink this as a nightcap as it was ‘knockout stuff’. So much so that last summer one of the guests drank it at lunch, wandered off for a walk and promptly fell asleep. It took the staff search-party till midnight to find her, curled up in the tall grass like a field mouse!
The decor and spec of the room is fantastic. There’s a huge stand alone bath and a walk-in shower, complete with Elemis products, big fluffy towels and designer Missoni bathrobes (available for £165 from reception!) A Bose sound system was playing and there’s even a top-of-the-range Loewe TV and Blu-ray player (complete with a choice of over 300 films).
And that’s not all, there are more little touches that makes this boutique hotel so indulgent. Saff loved the remote-controlled gas fire (although she couldn’t work it by herself), whilst I couldn’t resist crashing out on the massive beanbag. But my favourite addition to the decor was the telescope by the skylight window. It’s meant to be used for viewing the wildlife and the stars but I couldn’t help but feel like George Webber, Dudley Moore’s character in 10, spying on his neighbour’s somewhat ‘interesting’ parties!
Saff’s favourite touch by far was the genius addition of the sloe gin by the bed. We ended up siphoning the remains into an empty water bottle to take home and pour into our own Tuddenham Mill decanter set which we bought from reception. Our desperate attempt to recreate the Tuddenham Mill feel in the comfort of our own home. Impossible.
Before you start to think that all this luxury is only available in the top end loft suites, think again… The eight ‘basic’ rooms (although they are far from basic, see the photo above) and the three ‘Mill rooms’ offer the same level of indulgence, the only difference is floor space…
After making ourselves feel at home we got changed and excitedly headed down to the Mill building for diner in the restaurant headed up by award-winning Paul Foster. Previously of Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in California and Sat Bains. Oh, and also the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2011 young chef of the year.
The current structure of the Mill was built in 1775, but there has been a mill on this site for around 1,000 years. The massive exposed timbers were from decommissioned Tudor ships, some of these beams even have sailor’s writing still on them. Apparently the mill is still in working order, it just makes the whole building shake!
After our superb meal (click here for the full review) we waddled, with full bellies, back to our room. Here we sipped some of our sloe gin, fell into a coma-like sleep and waited for the sun to rise. Not that you would know it had, that’s the miracle of blackout blinds. I woke before Saff (as I always do) and decided to go for a pre-breakfast stroll through the village, and what a strange little place it is. One straight(ish) road, a church and The White Hart pub.
Then it was time for breakfast… If it was half as good as the previous night’s meal then we’d be in for another treat. Served in the same area as before, the room took on a different ambience in daylight and the views over the mill pond are stunning. You can see why this place is a popular wedding venue.
We sat down and ordered a huge pot of coffee a glass of freshly squeezed OJ and, as I had the beginning of a sore throat, a cup of hot honey and lemon, which the waitress got without any fuss. (I always get ill when I properly relax.) Some chunky toast was served with mill-made jam and a sweet sticky marmalade. The same waitress from the night before loomed in the background, watching us as we ate (there wasn’t much else for her to do) which was slightly off-putting.
The breakfast menu is split into two sections, cereals, fruits, juices, home-soaked muesli, Goosnargh yoghurt, almond granola etc. And the cooked section. I ordered the fruit smoothie packed full of berries and contaminating at least 4.75 of my five-a-day and Saff went healthy too with a honey-glazed pink grapefruit, loved this, we will be recreating it at home.
After, we both went for the Full English Dingley Dell pork sausages, mushroom, bacon, baked beans, plum tomato, baby black pudding and choice of eggs – purely because of the Dingley Dell sausages!
I nearly went for the hugely indulgent Brioche French Toast, topped with caramelised banana and maple syrup, especially when I saw one being served with strips of crispy bacon.
We reluctantly packed our bags and checked out. Tuddenham Mill is such a relaxed and relaxing place, where almost every little detail has been thought of. We really didn’t want to leave and wished we could have stayed another night to take full advantage. We later learnt that they post special late deals on Facebook and Twitter, so keep an eye out and grab a bargain…
Nearest stations: Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds