28th October 2018
The Northgate, a Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
On a recent visit to the lovely Suffolk town of Bury St Edmunds I stayed at The Northgate, a luxurious, yet not outrageously expensive boutique hotel close to the city centre. As soon as I entered the reception area I got the impression that someone really cared about this hotel. I sensed that a lot of thought had been given to the decoration of the rooms. In the lounge areas and restaurant beautifully blended pastel colours create a pleasing atmosphere that draws its guests in, invites them to make themselves comfortable. In the bar area bright orange seats amongst the creams and beiges created a sense of light-heartedness and enjoyment.
Lounge area in the bar at the Northgate Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Yes, someone did care – a lot. That someone is Genevieve Blythe, the Reservations Manager. Genevieve has lived in this property, two converted Victorian town houses, all her life. Prior to its acquisition by the Chestnut Group in 2015 this hotel was Ounce House a five-star guesthouse run by Genevieve’s parents, the Potts. When the Northgate opened in 2017 Genevieve was delighted to become a part of this new hotel and clearly enjoys her role there. Her warm welcome and perfect hostess skills make her guests feel at home. Genevieve is supported by a young, enthusiastic and very professional staff.
The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
The hotel has nine rooms and I stayed in the very pretty, light and spacious Duncombe room overlooking the garden. I enjoyed the luxury of sinking into its thick, soft carpet and stretching out on its splendid bed, lying back on a mountain of pillows and cushions. The room had everything I needed with the addition of some homemade buttery shortbread to eat with the reviving cup of tea I made after a day spent exploring the town. The bathroom was a joy and I took advantage of both the large claw-footed bath and the rain forest shower during my stay – not both at once of course tempting though it might have been.
Duncombe bedroom at The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Although the hotel is very close to the town centre on a reasonably busy road being set back from this road any traffic noise is not. A lovely garden and terrace at the back offers a delightful setting for anything from morning coffee to afternoon tea or a cocktail party. There is also plenty of parking beyond the garden – always a plus in a city centre hotel. This hotel, a short walk from the city centre is perfectly placed for anyone visiting the town.
Garden at the rear of The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
The Restaurant at The Northgate
The hotel restaurant has three rooms. The main restaurant where breakfast is also served and two smaller rooms – a private dining room and the Chef’s Table. Diners at the Chef’s Table can watch the chefs at work in the kitchen. I ate in the main restaurant which is candlelight in the evening. I was looking forward to my meal as the chef at The Northgate is Greig Young who has worked for the Chestnut group since 2016. Everything on the menu sounded so good that I sought the advice of my knowledgeable young waiter and assistant manager of the hotel, Harry, who was very helpful. I ordered the roast pigeon starter which sounded delicious and very different from my last experience of pigeon in a pie in Morocco. When the dish arrived it looked like a work of art. Fortunately, it did not taste like one and the succulent roast bird blended well with the roasted beetroot and tangy addition of damson.
Starter at The Northgate restaurant in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
For my main course I had chosen the Colne Valley salt marsh roast lamb with roast cauliflower and mashed potato. When it arrived I felt a stab of disappointment – the colours were really bland. When I mentioned this to Harry he explained that the current theme of the restaurant dishes was autumn colours. He had suggested I added caramelised carrots to my order and this dish really benefited visually from this addition. Despite my initial misgivings, eating this dish was sheer poetry. The lamb, resting on a bed of crunchy cauliflower couscous, melted in my mouth, probably the best lamb I have ever eaten. It was perfectly complemented by the roast cauliflower, mashed potatoes and a smooth, creamy puree made from the roast cauliflower.
Main course at The Northgate restaurant in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
For my dessert I chose the lovely, refreshing combination of fresh strawberries with sorrel ice cream and strawberry sorbet. All the desserts sounded spending and I chose this one as I had never tried sorrel ice cream before. I was not disappointed, it has a tangy unique taste and blended well with the rest of the dish. However, I felt the meringue slivers on the top added nothing to the dish and made the presentation a bit untidy but this seems to be the current trendy addition to sweet dishes.
Dessert at The Northgate restaurant in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
After such a fabulous dinner I had high expectations for breakfast and I was not disappointed. Genevieve was on duty and I was soon perusing a cooked breakfast menu over a steaming cup of coffee. My request for some fresh fruit was granted with a bowl of berry fruits. I followed this with the scrambled egg with smoked salmon – as this is one of my favourite dishes I was very happy to receive an abundance of both. It was a great start to my day.
Restaurant set for breakfast at The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk