Travel 41 The cool hotel guide
the times Saturday January 23 2016
So what’s the food like?
It’s excellent. Ray Maddox, a former head
chef at Langan’s in Mayfair, runs the
kitchen — and his experience shows. His
style is to “keep things simple”: dishes
include taleggio risotto with parsley cakes
or monkfish sautéed with garlic, raisins and
pine nuts. My orange and rocket salad
starter with toasted pecans and goat’s
cheese was first rate. The roasted pheasant
main course with chestnuts, sautéed apples,
savoy cabbage and fondant potatoes was
one of the best dishes I’ve tasted this
winter — while the cinnamon pear cake
with vanilla fudge sauce was a treat. I ate
in the conservatory, where purple tulips
poked out of Marmite jar “vases” on
tables. Three courses are from about £25.
his stylish new eight-room
hotel is in a prominent
spot in the quiet market
town of Reepham, about
a dozen miles northwest of
Norwich. It’s in a red-brick
building dating from 1721
that was once home to the Bircham
family, who were wealthy local
landowners and brewers. It comes with
a Grand Tour theme that is designed to
create a connection with the house’s
Georgian heritage, when travelling took
off (mainly among upper-class men).
Rooms are named Raj, China, Africa and
Italian Palace. While this might sound
OTT, the owner has struck the right
balance between quirkiness and comfort.
In a nutshell
Dial House is the latest project from Iain
Wilson, who runs Byfords, a restaurant
and “posh B&B” in Holt, north Norfolk.
His other interests include a wedding
venue with restaurant in Norwich and a
pub-hotel near Holt. He took over Dial
House, which had been a pub, 18 months
ago. There is now a laid-back restaurant
with antique furniture (much of which is
for sale), a lounge and high-quality
rooms, which opened in September.
What are the rooms like?
The top-floor Raj room has exposed
beams, a carved-wood bed and elephant
sculptures, plus a large marble bathroom
with a stand-alone tub. The Natural
History room is entered through a door
hidden in a cabinet of travellers’
curiosities. The Africa Room and the
Tom Chesshyre was a
guest of the Dial House
Reepham, Norfolk NR10
4JJ; B&B doubles from
£155; no wheelchair
access room; single
occupancy discount of
£30; no dogs allowed
Who goes there?
Expect to see foodies and walkers: there’s
plenty of nearby countryside to explore.
Stephen Fry is said to have worked
briefly in his youth at the Old Brewery
House pub — as Dial House once was.
China room are decorated according to
their names: masks, vibrant patterns and
a bath-tub in the bedroom in the former,
and willow and bamboo pattern
wallpaper and a fine china collection in
the latter. The Orient and the Print
Room are the smallest (from £155 B&B).
All other rooms are from £170 B&B.
Rates are £20 more at weekends.
Which is the best room?
The ornate Italian Palace room is biggest
but the Natural History feels special as it
is hidden away.
What else is there to do?
Explore Norfolk (visitnorfolk.co.uk).
The highs, the lows, the verdict
Nine out of ten
Great food, comfortable rooms,
enthusiastic staff . . . this is a fine new
hotel (though the price tags on the
furniture are a bit off-putting).
Do you agree?
Suggest hotels or get in touch: