Laura Thompson,a researcher, stayed at Cliff Barns in Norfolk. Sleeping 20, the cottage is ideal for a large group holiday.
Loud, Dallas-style interiors in a corner of rural Norfolk doesn’t sound like the most organic marriage. But somehow, in this barn conversion, it works.
I spent the first few hours at Cliff Barns manically exploring: walking through the right wing into a theatrical living room with tartan loungers, antlers and a vast fireplace. Shelves are lined with antique trinkets and a wall of age-old photographs evokes a mysteriously poetic slant on what is otherwise city-dweller friendly (iPod docking station, WiFi and heated slate flooring). The adjacent room is an industry-standard kitchen. Lavish feasts can be served on my favourite feature of the cottage, a regal dining table with candelabras, worthy of a Tudor dynasty banquet.
Eight eclectic bedrooms showcase a feat of postmodern interior design, retaining those gratifying hotel references including roll-top baths and luxurious Ren toiletries. I chose Prairie, a large red-lit space with saddles, Aztec throws, adjoining wet room and rainforest shower. Next door, a riot of Sixties psychedelia and around the corner a chintzy boudoir with birch branch four-poster bed. Such lively decor creates the perfect climate for animated behaviour, whether a hen-do or weekend with old friends. That’s not to say there isn’t potential for serenity. The backdrop of two and a half acres of gardens and lawns provides the ultimate antidote to work gripes or noisy urban decay. A 40-minute drive further afield revealed Holkham Bay with its boundless sands that have made various film scenes.
With a ping-pong table and hot tub, it’s like a very adult playground. Admittedly, languishing in bubbles at dusk sipping wine feels like an Eighties movie cliche, but I revelled in it. After all, as the cottage also provides a fancy-dress wardrobe, any shred of pride is best left at the door. Either that, or forfeit such gems as the image of one of my companions, a po-faced east London hipster, fashioning an ill-fitting elf outfit and stetson. The weekend protocol for Cliff Barns is simple: check in Friday at 3pm, check out Monday at 10am and cram the intervening hours with indulgence and hedonistic horseplay.
From £3,290 for a three-nights or £4,190 for seven days. To book, visit mrandmrssmith.com or call 0845-034 0700