The Gunton Arms is a gorgeous restored old building set in stunning grounds with its own deer herd and could simply not be any more idyllic. A place to come and eat, grab a cosy evening drink or retreat for a weekend away in the English countryside.
Yet there is much more to this place than meets the eye…
Inside, the interiors are something to behold. The cosy pub and dining room as well as the old-fashionedly styled accommodation areas all sit in juxtaposition to the incredible modern art from the collection of the owner and prolific art collector Ivor Braka. Artworks fill the walls of every room from Tracey Emin, Gilbert and George, Paula Rego and Frank Auerbach to name only a few. You’ll even find Damien Hirst and Lucian Freud in the ladies no less!! The modern art sitting alongside the more old-fashioned country styling works incredibly well.
There is a mixture of so many things that I rate and value (as well as being in the county of my birth and formative years) that it has to be my favourite UK destination and I’m forever raving about it and dreaming about when I can get to go back.
The Elk Dining Room is amazing and a destination all of its own. The food though seemingly simple is pretty incredible, much of it being cooked in the epic fireplace which has an impressive ten-foot pair of ancient Elk antlers looming above the mantle (found in an Irish peat bog).
The menu is big on meat and the steak I had there was undeniably the best of my life. There is also great seafood including the famous Cromer crab. It’s all hearty food and with delicious wines and warming tipples – the whole experience just feels like a giant hug.
The bar has a real old skool pub feel, yet the paraphernalia on the walls isn’t your usual Guinness posters and old brass instruments – it is (no real spoiler here) incredible modern art. In the summer the large beer garden backs straight onto the field with fabulous open views, adding to the feel that you’re in a place that’s is its own little world of wonder. If Carlsberg made pubs with rooms above.. this would be it! Except you wouldn’t want to be drinking Carlsberg as they’ve got some super tasty ales on offer.
With just 12 rooms the place really has a cosy, homely feel. The decor in the guest areas, all designed by Robert Kime – has an opulent, yet comfy country-house style with a (cliche styling term but fits the bill) ‘modern twist’.
There are areas that are designated for the guests only so you can get away from the main areas on a busy night. Comfy sofas and other nooks are perfect for settling in with one of the art books at hand.
The grounds are quite large and there are sculptures sprinkled around to either seek out or stumble upon, including a lone Antony Gormley statue right in the middle of one of the fields, which as with his other figure placements at Crosby Beach, Liverpool and in Western Australia, is as much about the space around the sculpture, as the sculpture itself.
Their own deer herd also wanders around and I witnessed a rather magical moment when at the end of one night they had made their way to the edge of the pub garden and were moving around the sculptures just outside while I was sat on a pub bench supping my post-dinner port. In the dark, it was quite an eerie and yet beautiful thing to experience.
The Gunton Arms can be found just outside Thorpe Market near Cromer, Norfolk, England – theguntonarms.co.uk
With special thanks to the James kids for great posing and great shoes!
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