A touch of romance

PUBLISHED: 10:16 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 10:16 16 May 2013

Showman's caravan at Tithe Barn, Sisland

Showman's caravan at Tithe Barn, Sisland


It oozes charm, character and quality, but what really sets the Sisland Tithe Barn apart are those subtle touches that remain in the memory long after the visit: The scent of lavender in the home-made biscuits, the printed weather forecast to help you plan the day, eclectic artworks that reflect on the county or the wholesome breakfast.

Couple that with bright rooms of warm and comforting colours which make the most of the natural light and south Norfolk’s panoramas, and it starts to become clear why the Sisland Tithe Barn has been voted Norfolk’s best B and B.

Perfectly located for Norwich and the Waveney valley, and set off the A146 just past Thurton, what is more amazing is that owners Lesley Fish and Jane Williams only opened it as a bed and breakfast just over a year ago – but they have clearly got it right first time.

Former PE teacher Jane explains: “We try to offer our guests what we would like if we were staying in a B and B, and work from the perspective that while they are with us, this is their home.”

They were inspired to set up in business after staying in bed and breakfast accommodation in Oxfordshire and thinking: “We could do this”.

The Tithe Barn, previously a turkey shed until converted into a family home in the 1980s, has been lovingly transformed to offer the comfortable B and B rooms of The Hayloft and The Hide – with its bed-level view across the rolling agricultural landscape – and the self-catering Owl Barn and Orchard Barn.

And then, for a true outdoor experience in the summer, spend a night “glamping” in the replica Showman’s Wagon amid the delightful gardens where they also grow their own produce. Look out, also, for the resident barn owl swooping low over the country lanes.

The Tithe Barn was named Best Bed and Breakfast at the EDP Norfolk Tourism Awards 2012, with the judges impressed by the combination of traditional and modern in the “imaginative barn conversion” where the spacious guest accommodation was “designed with style and flair”.

The citation read: “From the moment you are greeted by Lesley and Jane you can look forward to a marvellous experience. The accommodation oozes character with attention to detail that five star hotels struggle to match”.

Lesley, who worked as a wheat breeder at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, says: “For us, the secret to running a successful bed and breakfast is hard work and teamwork.

“We have had a great first year and it is brilliant to have our work recognised with this award. You start to think that you must be doing something right if you have guests returning for second or third stays in your first year in business.”

Call 01508 520520 or visit www.sisland-tithe-barn.co.uk

Here are four more Norfolk B and B retreats for a romantic Valentine’s night away:

Montague House, Sheringham

Boutique bed and breakfast accommodation located in the heart of Sheringham and already gaining great reviews. Run by Fiona and Tom Carville, it has three highly-individual rooms reflecting the owner’s eclectic style. The Pink Room offers glimpses of the Poppy Line steam train at the end of the garden; the peaceful and spacious Garden Room overlooks the garden with a classic Edwardian bed; and the deluxe Gold Suite has a four-poster bed and dressing room.

Call 01263 822510 or visit www.montague-house.co.uk

Dairy Barns, Hickling

Nestled at Hickling between the waterways of the Norfolk Broads and the coastline, Dairy Barns forms part of Lound Farm, a working family farm covering 360 acres of environmentally managed grazing marshes and arable land owned and run by Hannah and Ian Deane. The B and B features six individual colour-themed rooms, three extra-special rooms and offers farmhouse breakfasts with freshly prepared local produce served in the main barn. There are also two self-catering cottages.

Call 01692 598243 or visit www.dairybarns.co.uk

The Moat House, Hethel

An elegant moated Georgian country house at Hethel, a few miles south of Norwich, this offers spacious and airy accommodation set amid 50 acres of secluded grounds and gardens, plus an indoor pool. Owned by Colin and Lesley Rudd, the former rectory has three superb guest rooms: The Apartment features an elegant and spacious bathroom, a bright and airy bedroom and an open dressing room; the Blue Room provides delightful views over the gardens; while the Four Poster Room has a magnificent bed as its centrepiece.

Call 01508 578536 or visit www.hethelmoat.freeserve.co.uk

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