Following Boris Johnson’s announcement that holiday lets could re-open from Saturday 4 July, the UK population has declared 2020 the year of the staycation! Many holiday homes are seeing a renaissance, with families booking to stay over the summer and into the extended autumn season.
The New Normal
Whilst many are keen for a getaway, what does holidaying in the socially distant ‘new normal’ look like? We’ve put it to the test under our ‘Tried and Tested’ series. Find out what happened in early July when our Marketing Manager Abi, and her 5 year old son Monty, enjoyed a short break in a classic seaside cottage in Aldeburgh.
Stay the Best of Suffolk Way
So first of all, what’s a Best of Suffolk stay usually like? Well, we pride ourselves on bringing boutique hotel standards to self-catering holiday homes. This means crisp white linens and big fluffy bath sheets. Our Suffolk holiday cottages offer something a little extra for the discerning guest.
I received my arrival details by email, providing me with everything I needed to know ahead of my stay. Yes, this set of details is slightly different to ones previously received as it clearly sets out the enhanced cleaning measures the housekeepers are carrying out, as well as what’s expected of guests in the ‘new normal’. It’s mainly common sense, and nothing too arduous, but makes for a fun but safe stay for all. I felt reassured that necessary steps were being taken to ensure all standards had been followed.
We’re Good to Go
The Visit England campaign ‘We’re Good to Go’ sets out the necessary criteria tourism and hospitality businesses need to follow to open within the guidelines. Best of Suffolk have followed the guidelines of the PASCUK and provided housekeepers with enhanced cleaning guidelines, completed a Covid-19 risk assessment and are adhering to necessary measures, so ‘We’re Good to Go’.
Day 1 – Checking in and Our First Night
We were excited to get into our Suffolk holiday cottage at 5pm. It’s a slightly later check-in than normal, to allow sufficient time for the housekeeping team to carry out the enhanced cleaning protocol. We arrived in Aldeburgh in the late afternoon and enjoyed a few hours on the beach.
Best of Suffolk holiday homes offer contactless reception as they all have key boxes, which are cleaned with antibacterial solution after each departure. We used the key code provided in the arrival details and couldn’t wait to get into the gorgeous Sandpiper Cottage, located just off the High Street on Park Lane.
Sandpiper is the ideal holiday cottage for a family stay in Aldeburgh. We could reach everywhere we wanted to on foot within a few minutes. There’s ample parking along Park Lane, so after unloading the car we parked easily a few minutes’ walk away.
There’s a good sized dining room, comfortable sitting room and the kitchen is plenty big enough for your stay at the seaside. Upstairs there’s a twin bedroom, family bathroom with luxurious roll top bath and double bedroom with en suite shower room.
Full of coastal period charm, including original fireplaces, sash windows and wooden flooring, Sandpiper Cottage makes for a very comfortable stay.
We walked in an explored our cottage, full of child-like excitement at discovering each room. The cottage was clean and welcoming, with a bottle of wine and some yummy biscuits laid out for our arrival.
After unpacking our things we headed off along the High Street to get some provisions. We headed to the East of England Co-op for milk, tea and some basic essentials. Like most shops, there’s a hand sanitizing station and clearly marked social distancing spacing.
The White Hart Pizzeria
We decided to have pizza at home on our first night, too excited to eat out! After meeting up with some friends we wandered to The White Hart. Clearly a popular choice as there was a modest queue of families who had had the same idea. The oak smoked pizza oven smelt divine! With six tables under cover, and a further four open to the elements, you could choose to have your pizza to take away or ‘eat in’ and accompany with a drink from the pub.
We made our choices; Monty went for a classic Margarita and I had ‘the Aldeburgh’! Very fitting as it was covered in local seafood and fresh chillies. After the three minute walk back to the ideally placed Sandpiper Cottage, we tucked in around the dinner table.
Sandpiper Cottage is perfect for family fun and entertainment. After our delicious meal we settled down in the sitting room and played some board games. We brought our own games, as it’s been recommended anything non-essential is cleared from holiday cottages. We were advised this in our very helpful arrival details, so bought books, magazines and games to keep us occupied in case of bad weather.
Sandpiper Cottage is also ideal for a game of hide-and-seek. Lots of cupboards and little places to hide away whilst you’re being sought! Had it been cooler, the wood burning stove would have made the sitting room extra cosy.
Day 2 – Crabbing in Orford
After a leisurely start and waking up to the sound of seagulls, Monty and I had breakfast at home. Bacon sandwiches, fresh fruit and yogurt. We then headed off in search of crabbing gear.
We Caught Crabs in Orford!
We walked up to Aldeburgh Pharmacy and secured two crab lines and a large bucket in which to put our hoard. We walked back to Sandpiper Cottage, packed up a picnic (and some bacon for the crabs!) and set off on our adventure.
The Quay has a small car park, but you’re best to park in the Riverside pay and display car park opposite the Jolly Sailors pub. Also handy as there’s toilets there too. We could, of course, has secured our crabbing gear from Orford General Store, who hard a larger selection of lines, reels, nets and buckets.
We met up with some family and set off for the Quay. Despite the covering of cloud, it was a glorious few hours of crabbing fun. Whilst we only caught three crabs, we had several more escape just before we could secure them in our bucket.
With a fair few families all there enjoying this simple past time, it was an incredible slice of ‘normality’ whereby the only trace of anything different was the hand sanitizer at the Riverside Tearoom, where we had a couple of coffees.
Being by the sea, there’s no escaping Morris our beloved seagull, clearly on the prowl of our sandwich crusts!
Pump Street Bakery
We’d promised the kids a treat from the renowned Pump Street Bakery in Orford, sadly we didn’t realise it closed at 1pm. That’s a key tip from this Tried and Tested stay is to check opening times before you head off. More than likely with cafes or restaurants you will need to book in advance, if bookings are being taken.
Keen not to disappoint, upon our return to Sandpiper Cottage we set off in search of ice cream. With big, socially distant queues outside of both Ives and Harris and James, we opted for Ives and indulged…we are on holiday, after all! With a one in, one out system, and hand sanitizer recommended before you pick up your ice cream cone, we felt reassured the necessary protocols had been adhered to.
Tea at Home
After a lovely day out, we opted to stay in and cook on our final night. The well-equipped kitchen at Sandpiper Cottage provided everything I needed to rustle up Monty’s favourite, meatballs with pasta and broccoli. We enjoyed another meal at the dinner table, then I loaded everything into the full-size dishwasher and enjoyed the rest of our evening without having to worry about the washing up!
After a yummy tea, it was time for bath, book and bed (for Monty at least!). Monty particularly liked the big, roll top bath at Sandpiper Cottage. “It’s huge Mummy, I could swim in there I bet!”
After he was sleeping soundly it was my turn to try out the fabulous bath, with my book and a glass of the delicious wine left out for our arrival.
Day 3 – Aldeburgh Beach & Two Magpies Bakery
Another lie in and waking up to the sound of seagulls after a wonderful nights sleep! We got ready and followed the new procedure for check out.
We were advised with the arrival details what was expected of us upon departure, so I simply followed the instructions kindly set out by Best of Suffolk for a safe but fun trip for all.
I stripped bed sheets and put them in the refuse sacks under the kitchen sink. Then, I emptied the bins into the wheelie bin. Finally, I ensured the fridge and freezer was clear of any leftover food. And that was pretty much it! We put the key back in the key box and set off in search of breakfast.
The Infamous Cinnamon Swirl
The queue outside Two Magpies Bakery in Aldeburgh is almost as legendary as the queue for fish and chips! We arrived at Two Magpies just before 10am and queued in the sunshine for about 10 minutes. Their cinnamon swirls are stuff of legends and so we had to indulge on our last morning. Fully socially distanced and with a one-way system in place, it didn’t take long before we collected our order.
We headed to the beach and joined lots of families who had already been out swimming. A very common sight in Aldeburgh are bathers in the dressing gowns heading back to their holiday cottages after a sea swim. Sandpiper Cottage is ideally placed to do just that!
Whilst we didn’t go swimming on the last day of our holiday, we did enjoy the sunshine, our breakfast and of course, Morris popped along to say hello!
When driving along Park Lane, heading away from Aldeburgh, I pointed out to Monty how many lovely big houses there were along this road. Monty’s reply? “They might be big Mummy, but I bet they’re not as nice as our holiday home!”
I will leave you with Monty’s verdict on Sandpiper Cottage, as I couldn’t agree more!
View and Book Sandpiper Cottage
Why not take a look at Sandpiper Cottage and see how you’d spend your time in Aldeburgh?