The village of Burnham Market in Norfolk is home to a top-notch ‘Hoste’
The Hoste, which describes itself as a “unique and luxurious retreat”, sits in the quaint village of Burnham Market, and is ideally located to explore some of the most popular highlights of the very picturesque North Norfolk coast such as Holkham Beach, Wells-Next-The-Sea and Brancaster. It is a four-star made up of 38 bedrooms spread across six individual properties, which are namely The Hoste (a beautifully-renovated 17th century building), the Vine House, the Railway House, as well as three luxury holiday cottages. Each sport a completely individual theme.
We chose the Vine House, which is a short meander away from the main hotel across the green, and is home to eight boutique rooms and suites, plus a small communal lounge. We stayed in the spacious and cosy ‘57’, classified as a ‘Divine Room’, and is one that often doubles up as the highly-romantic Bridal Suite when the occasion allows.
Looking out over the rear and peaceful courtyard garden, it is dominated by a high sloping ceiling, central chandelier and ornate furniture. The décor oozes character, the result of a selection of carefully chosen pastel colours and shades. The six foot double bed, dressed in crisp white linen and a plethora of cushions and soft pillows, is extremely comfortable, and a good night’s sleep was definitely achieved. At its foot lies a blue velour sofa, giving another excuse to sit back and admire the classic charm of these surroundings.
Large double doors open into the welcoming ensuite bathroom, which features a central free-standing bath that sits against a tastefully tiled floral backdrop. All fixtures come courtesy of Fired Earth, giving an elegant touch to the ‘his’ and ‘hers’ sinks, and the separate walk-in rain shower.
Come the evening, The Hoste has one dinner menu which is offered across the Garden Room, the wooden-panelled front restaurant (where we ate) and the bar, and can cater for around 160 people at any one time. All gastronomy is overseen by Executive Head Chef, James O’Connor, formerly of the St Moritz Hotel in Cornwall, whose creations are based on locally-sourced ingredients. In keeping with this, the menu actually lists a ‘Supplier of the month’, and when we were there, it was the turn of the Cornerways Nursery in Downham Market, who provide all tomatoes to The Hoste.
For those who like to keep a watchful eye on the origins of their meal, the other added bonus and element of entertainment with this eatery, is that at the discretion of James himself, guests are invited to the kitchen, to meet the team and watch the actual preparation of their chosen dishes. We took The Hoste up on this rare invitation to go behind the scenes, and it was indeed a fascinating hive of activity. It allows you to witness first-hand the incredible level of skill and craftsmanship that goes into each dish, and what it takes to put a meal together from start to finish, right down to the £16,000 machine that leaves every plate and piece of cutlery sparking clean.
Although not extensive, there is nevertheless a decent choice of dishes. Dietary requirements are very well catered for, with any allergy-inducing ingredients clearly highlighted. After a complementary basket of warm fresh bread and olive oil, and joined with a glass of refreshing 2013 Pinot Grigio wine from Umbria, I opted for a ‘Special’ starter, a salmon roulette, which translated as a sumptuous mousse which included finely chopped morsels of red onion, chives, diced baby leeks, mini capers and lemon, which was finished by a generous slice of toasted white sourdough bread. It was superb, and it is a shame that it is not a mainstay of the menu, as this recipe is definitely worthy of taking a place on the regular line-up. My dining partner enjoyed an excellent mixed salad using rocket leaves, watermelon and a chilli kick, and was topped with thin slices of succulent duck. The Hoste had made a great first impression.
On to the mains (known at The Hoste as ‘to follow’), and there are different types of meat and fish to sample. Along with a portion of hand cut chips, I tried the fillet of moist seared line-caught sea bass, which came balanced on a large piece of soft Norfolk celery. It was a joy for the palate, thanks to the savoury flavours from the former, the sweet taste of the black grape sauce, and the crunch from the sprinkling of rich hazelnuts. My companion tried the delicious locally reared spring lamb, a quartet of neatly arranged stacks that were made from fondant potatoes, courgettes, a tomato and garlic cloves.
With just about enough room for dessert, I headed straight for the poached rhubarb crumble. It was simply divine and elegantly presented, despite it not being a ‘traditional’ composition that you would expect, as the base was lined with crème brûlée. To the side, there was a scoop of rhubarb ice cream which sat on crushed pieces of white chocolate which we were told from our kitchen ‘tour’, that, apart from it tasting nice, it has the important job of preventing the ice cream from moving on the plate as it is carried to the table. Clever. My wife sampled the Sharrington soft fruits which were neatly encased in an elderflower jelly, and was accompanied by a helping of sorbet – a reasonably light closing chapter to what had been a great meal. We left this establishment feeling nicely full, and the service supplied by our South African host, Simon, and by his colleagues, was excellent from start to finish, mirroring our experience throughout our stay. Nothing was ever too much trouble.
In the morning, after a spectacular sunrise, the wholesome Hoste buffet breakfast is served in the Garden Room, and offers a nice selection of pastries and meats, cheeses and fresh fruit, avocado, nuts, seven different types of juices, hazelnut or almond milk, or hot porridge with honeycomb (on demand). Other cooked options, such as scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or grilled Brancaster kipper, are available at an added cost.
For those who like to indulge in a spot of pampering, The Hoste Beauty Spa, which is situated just across from the main reception, is where visitors can relax in a tranquil setting and enjoy a large array of treatments, or a chat with friends in the outdoor hot tub. Indulging in some chilled lemon and lime water, my other half tried the Hoste signature massage (priced at £50) which consisted of an hour-long session, where the full length of the body is suitably calmed and unwound with the help of lavender oils and Clarins beauty products.
Whether for a weekend or a stop-over in the county, The Hoste is a comfortable retreat to kick back, and take in the beauty of this picture postcard corner of Nelson’s County. It should therefore not be overlooked when paying a visit to this area of the UK.
The Hoste – How and where
Tel: +44 1328 738777