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The cosiest self-catering cottages (and Winter what-to-do's) in Norfolk

16th October 2017 Print

Tempting though it may be to simply light the fire and pull the curtains until Spring, you're missing a trick if you don't make the most of our great outdoors this winter.

For a growing number of us, it's just when the nights are shortest and the weather nippiest can we find Norfolk is at its very best. Think: bracing walks along empty beaches with only your dogs, kids or wheeling sea-birds for company. Forests and parklands, too aren't just a place to lose ourselves and get back to nature but somewhere to top up the Vitamin D supplies. And, if we're honest, we also rather love the fact that we can actually find a car-parking space in even the most touristy towns, like Burnham Market or Wells.

According to tourism bosses, taking a winter short break is one of our fastest growing staycation trends, with bookings taken over the off-peak season up over 14% compared with just five years ago.

“People don't necessarily want to spend a week or a fortnight holidaying at home at this time of year, “says Lucy Downing, Brand Manager at Norfolk Country Cottages. “What they do want, though, is a change of scenery from their own four walls - a short break, close to home in which to relax, recharge the batteries and break up what at times can feel like an endless winter.”

That there's a greater number of cosy boltholes on the holiday lettings market is also a factor in the growing popularity winter breaks.

“Holiday home owners have got wise to the fact that Norfolk is a year-round destination and fitted out their accommodation accordingly.

“Properties these days aren't just a home from home but invariably 'better than home', with woodburning stoves, games rooms, saunas, steam rooms and even swimming pools adding to the appeal,” adds Lucy.

Tempted? We've hand-picked a selection of cosy holiday properties from which to explore our wonderful winterland by day and relax in after dark.

Best for countryside couples wanting to get away from it all

Where? Reepham

What? Old Oaks Cottage, sleeps 3

Why winter? Not just one but two woodburners heat this stunning, newly renovated cottage, keeping it toasty warm even in the depths of winter, as do the faux fur bed throws, the sheepskin rug in front of the sitting room fire and, our favourite, the outdoor hot tub which is available year-round. It's not just warmth that makes this detached cottage appeal, though. There's loads to see and do, even in the depths of winter.

Winter What – To- Do's: Located in the gorgeous, conservation area town of Reepham, you can cycle or walk the Marriott's Way, wander around independent shops and sip hot chocolate in local cafes before retreating back to the cottage to snuggle down.

Price from £439 for a short break or £511 per week from Norfolk Country Cottages,

Best for large groups wanting the lap of luxury

Where? Cley

What? Barn Drift, sleeps 16

Why winter? Lovers of the North Norfolk coast will know just how 'get away from it all' 'Big sky country' Cley is, and this large, traditional brick and flint barn perhaps its ultimate bolthole for large groups or families. No expense has been spared on the décor, which, light and airy throughout raises the spirits on even the dankest winter days. The fact you'll be saving nearly £2,000 by staying over winter as opposed to the height of summer may also gladden the heart! Vertiginous raised ceilings, a copper bath that looks like it has come straight from the pages of a lifestyle magazine, large glass windows affording views over the Glaven Valley, Blakeney Point and Cley, lots of seating and dining space guarantees a fabulous stay.

Winter What-To-Do's With coastal walks literally on the doorstop, this is a location made for getting out into the great outdoors. Those with ambition and lots of energy can walk to Blakeney Point on a lowering tide whilst wildlife and nature lovers can enjoy Cley Reserve, the oldest wildlife trust reserve in the county and one with varied habitat, salt and freshwater. Cley Windmill is also a lovely place to eat and drink.

Price from £4,985 per week from luxury boutique agency, Salt,

Best for one (or two) families

Where? Heacham

What? Sloe Gin Cottage, sleeps 4

Why winter? Even the name of this traditionally built, newly renovated brick and flint cottage seems comforting, something delicious to sip on a winter's evening in front of a roaring fire.  There's a delightful cottage kitchen and table to mooch around on, whist numerous throws and woollen blankets are a lovely, individual touch. If you have more than four in your party, holidaying with another family perhaps, you can book next door, 'Moongazer Cottage' which also sleeps 4. 

Winter What-To-Do's: Depending on how adventurous you are, either take part or simply watch the kitesurfers at Hunstanton make the most of the seasonal winds, it's a great spectator sport! There's also a generous supply of nearby stately homes, such as Holkham and Sandringham, ideal for a wet weather option.

Price from £375 per week from Salt,

Best for keeping kids happy

Where? Pentney

What? The Old Coach House, sleeps 6

Why winter? Inclement weather can mean cooped up kids. Cooped up kids can mean stressed out adults. Either way, it isn't good news. We are yet to meet a child who doesn't LOVE the use of an indoor swimming pool which is why this charming converted coach house ticks all the boxes. It gets better. There's a games room AND a sauna, as well as a large garden for running around outside. In the village, Woolies tea shop serves yummy cakes, hot chocolates and cups of tea, whilst Little Abbey Farm cooks award-winning all-day breakfasts in their conservatory and delicious home cooked meals which, on request, can be delivered to your door. Younger kids will love the farm animals, too.

Winter What-To-Do's: It would be easier to answer, 'what isn't there to do?', so numerous are the family friendly activities within a 2- mile radius of Pentney. Ten pin bowling in Kings Lynn, the Green Britain Centre near Swaffham where you can climb (300 steps) a modern windmill, make history come alive at the 12th century Castle Rising, Go Karting (also at Swaffham), the Sea-Life Centre at Hunstanton or the ever-popular Snettisham Park (do take the tractor ride) suitable for children of all ages.

Price from £731 per week from Norfolk Country Cottages,

Best for keeping more kids happy

Where? Brinton

What? The Coach House, sleeps 8

Why Winter?  The Coach House is a gorgeous, dog-friendly property for larger families or, perhaps, two families together. The combination of pale hues, low-ish ceilings, woodburning stoves and large glass windows make for a cosy yet light-filled retreat, whilst an indoor pool, sauna / steam room add the luxury factor for larger groups. There's an all-weather tennis court, too, when the weather is dry, whilst the large gardens – an enclosed lawn as well as a water garden are a real feature, with birds coming to feed and bathe even during the winter. Compared to peak summer season, you'll save nearly £1,000 on the price. Now there's something to warm the cockles, or is it chestnuts?

Winter What-To-Do's: Although slightly inland, Brinton is almost centrally located between some of North Norfolk's best loved towns: the coastal gems of Cromer in the east, Wells to the West and Blakeney to the north, Holt and Fakenham further inland.  What better place, then, from which to explore? Outdoors and nature lovers will enjoy Pensthorpe Natural Park, Holt Country Park, Blakeney Seal trips and bracing coastal walks, little ones Doodlepots Ceramic café in Holt or Dinosaur Adventure Park. If the weather is truly awful, though, there's always that sauna and indoor pool to enjoy!

Price from £996 per week from Salt,