Hotel Review: The Chequers Inn, Thornham
PUBLISHED: 11:38 05 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:38 05 September 2016
Set on Norfolk’s atmospheric coastal marshes but with a hint of Scandinavian charm, The Chequers Inn at Thornham is a welcome retreat for Rachel Buller
A traditional fishermen’s pub at the front and Nordic inspired chic restaurant and hotel beyond - the Chequers Inn in the village of Thornham is the perfect place to soak up Norfolk’s coastal charm.
With an enviable location, on the edge of the marshes just a stone’s throw from the beach, it underwent a major refurbishment at the start of this year before reopening in late spring with 11 new bedrooms, an overhaul of the restaurant and a new menu.
The rooms are a real surprise. None of your classic coastal style, instead a distinct nod to Scandinavian design. Lots of greys, classic mute colours, geometric patterns and beautiful, ergonomically pleasing furniture.
Many of the fixtures, including the lights, are almost industrial in design – a theme repeated in the restaurant downstairs – but such is the care and attention given to the styling, everywhere is warm and inviting.
With the smell of the sea in the air and the sun blazing down, the pub’s sheltered terrace is the perfect place to while away the afternoon, sampling a glass of good local beer. The bar itself is everything you would want from a traditional village pub – low ceilings (beware anyone over 6ft), open brick fireplaces, a good selection of beer and a very warm welcome.
Following a walk along the coastal path across the marshes in the early evening sun, we returned to our rooms for some refreshment and to get ready for dinner. The rooms have a welcome choice of tea – Norfolk blend – and fresh coffee, served in lovely traditional pottery mugs. But it isn’t just your traditional refreshments on offer. The pub stocks a great selection of speciality gins and every room has its own complimentary carafe of sloe gin, a really nice touch.
The Chequers has overhauled its food offering to include tapas for those who want a light bite, pizzas for something a little less formal - we loved the sound of Mrs Temple’s Three Cheese with Binham Blue, Copys Cloud and Wells Alpine - and a full a la carte menu. It is very much inspired by the surrounding farmland and coastline. For example, for starters, the scallops served with charred watermelon and samphire are delicious and a real flavour of the sea.
The menu is small but full of choice, such as the lightly spiced Westlake Farm’s lamb burger, from Briston, and the grilled fillet of smoked haddock with chive mashed potato and poached duck egg. Both were very tempting, but we chose the pan-seared local sea bass with squid, chorizo, gnocchi and citrus and coriander gel, and the rib-eye steak from the Holkham Estate topped with Binham Blue cheese sauce, both of which were excellent.
Leave room for dessert as there are some intriguing flavours to try, such as the lime marmalade ice-cream – served with a very indulgent treacle tart, and the homely Ovaltine ice-cream to accompany a very creamy crème brulee.
The crisp white linen, cosy duvet and comfortable bed are enough to ensure a great night’s sleep. The rooms are finished to the highest standard and you can tell that every little detail has been considered. The bathroom is luxurious, with soft bathrobes, a deep bath and powerful shower and a range of indulgent products from ESPA.
The restaurant is full of sunlight in the morning and makes a lovely spot for breakfast. Tea and coffee is plentiful, as is the toast. The eggs Benedict is delicious, with poached eggs cooked to perfection, and the request for more Hollandaise was happily obliged, and for my husband The Chequers Norfolk Breakfast, complete with black pudding, was a big hit.
While The Chequers Inn is no doubt a lovely spot on a hot, sunny day, this is most certainly a place for all seasons. As autumn creeps upon us and a cool coastal wind starts to blow, it is easy to imagine hunkering down here, wrapping yourself in a cosy blanket with a book in hand and a glass of that delicious sloe gin.