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28 June 2017


last weekend was ben's birthday, and whilst i was planning the ultimate birthday present (more on that next week), the ultimate birthday adventure offer was put in front of me: a weekend in bury st. edmunds, staying at the gorgeous, luxurious, totally-instagrammable hotel: the angel. we had been chatting about a weekend away, and in fact already had one booked - for the week following his birthday, because he wanted a big party and lots of drinks on the big day, and fair enough too; you only turn thirty once! but, our booked trip away, was made via air b&b, in a small, second bedroom in a harbour-street flat because whitstable is super expensive in june... so, a night in luxury was obviously a no-brainer in comparison, and off we went, the friday before last, curious about what adventures were in store...

the rooms

it was an incredibly warm day, and when we arrived, we were blessed with much-needed air conditioning. that's not normally a biggie for me, but in that heat? necessary. first tick. secondly: they'd totally given us the romantic pink suite, and i couldn't have been more pleased. the large and airy room was front-facing, so overlooked the carpark/market place, as well as the old abbey gate and the cathedral. couldn't have asked for better views, to be fair.

if i'm to be honest - and would i be anything less than? the decor totally stole my heart. from the pale blue embossed wallpaper to the heavy, black-out velour curtains and matching pink throw pillow, and the giant, copper bathtub, this room was absolute goals. weirdly though, it was accented with neon acrylic homewares like stools and trays, which was.. odd, but you know me: colour hunter, so all-in-all, i was totally there for that room.

the afternoon tea

about an hour after we checked in, there was a knock on the door; in rolled two large trays of the most incredibly delicious afternoon tea-like finger foods i think i've ever smelt. there was a tray of savoury (his), and one of sweet (mine). to top it off, an ice-cold bottle of champagne and two glasses were popped down in front of us, and off the staff trundled. we didn't know where to start, so literally just dove in on the first thing that looked more interesting than something else. 

there were some real gems in there, like the pulled pork balls with bacon jam and apple reduction; like the egg and cress sandwich, which ben claims is the best he's ever had (it was pretty creamy, to be fair); like the mini lemon curd pavlovas; especially like the fresh scones. it was about 1pm, and we had a walking tour booked for 2pm - totally necessary after almost devouring the whole damn lot. honesty hour: it was a lotttt of food for two people, but perhaps if we'd had longer than 45 mins to eat it, not so much of it would have gone to waste. regardless, it's ridiculously good value at £28.50pp (or £19.50 without champers)(or£7.95 for just tea and scones) though, so.. whatever.

the chef's menu

we headed down to the eaterie for our booking, but had no idea what to expect. turns out, the chefs had prepared a seven course tasting menu for us, so we could get sample everything that helps make the restaurant as widely popular as it is. too many award-winning chefs in one kitchen? i think not! just the right amount, if those seven courses were anything to go by. the absolute highlight for me was the tempura scallops, while ben loved the lamb course. pudding was also a total highlight, winning me over with yet another pavlova (this time, passionfruit, and deconstructed), and ben with a banoffee pie type dish. 

the wingspan bar

underneath the hotel, down some retro-carpeted winding stairs, is a renovated 12th century vault, that's been lovingly restored into a very quirky bar. from the dung beatle wallpaper to the metal aeroplane moulds on the exposed brick walls, this cave-like bar was very "trendy". maybe a bit too trendy for me; the crowd in the bar weren't guests of the hotel - it's open to the public, just like the restaurant, so it was a bit too small and rowdy for us. the cocktails weren't to my taste, either, but it was rather busy when we stopped by, and the guys behind the bar seemed rather flustered. the cocktails were really reasonably priced (from £6), so if you're in the area, it'd be worth having a look at the decor alone, and maybe stopping for a g&t instead.

the town

bury st. edmunds is like, an hour and a bit outside of london. south east, in suffolk, but direct through essex ways, so it barely felt like leaving the city. once there though, it couldn't have been less-london-like. what's funny is that while stamford was about the same distance away from london, they couldn't have been less alike. bury is so pretty; rows of pastel houses dressed with flower pots on every flat surface instantly captured my attention, while the easy-to-wander gridlocked streets made getting about really easy on foot. a bonus, considering the two-hour guided walking tour through the town, where we got to learn a little more about historic bury. spoiler: it played a preeeetty important role in england's royal history, so. educate yourself.

the town is also littered with independent and boutique shops, pubs, eateries, coffee shops - more than 45 of those, to be exact, as well as a new development boasting all the high street darlings. we ended our tour at said development, and - it was disappointing to see so much modern-age shopping in such a pretty, whimsical little town, though i understand why it's necessary. thankfully, the large shopping centre is well hidden down a pretty cobbled alley and original market lanes, making it less hideous to the naked eye. my advice: avoid the top shops, and eat/drink locally instead.

the brewery

on our final day, we headed down the road to take a tour of bury's own greene king brewery. this was my first real brewery tour, though ben has been on a few in his time for work. what's funny though, is that the greene king history is traced back to the brewery in london - where ben works, and he had no idea about that part of the business' history. the tour was fantassstic, though very hot. it was possibly the hottest day of the year, and we were unprepared for just hot hot and stuffy a beer factory can get in that heat. we learned everything from the brand's history through to its incredible, and historic expansion in the last decade or so. plus: the view from the roof was incredible. after the tour (that lasts about an hour and a bit), we all gathered around the tasting table, and sampled some of the factory's finest and freshest brews. the tour itself is only £12, and i definitely drank my money's worth.

all in all, we had a bloody lovely time in bury st. edmunds, and it was aaaaall thanks to the wonderful team over at the angel. we were super lucky to have had the opportunity to stay in such a gorgeous hotel for the night, but even luckier to have been introduced to royal bury. check out the angel's sister hotel, the salthouse, if harbour-side stays are more your jam!

*our stay, meals and tour were complimentary, but aaaaaall thoughts are mine.

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