If you like your UK city breaks with a dose of history (whether you paid attention in school or not), look no further than Norwich.
Housed in a striking 13th century building, the Maids Head Hotel is widely regarded as the oldest hotel in Britain (having been used for hospitality continuously since the early 1100’s – but back then, it was called The Murtle Fish). It’s played host to many VIP’s over the years, including Catherine of Aragon, The Black Prince (the eldest son of King Edward III), and Admiral Lord Nelson (it was also rumoured to have had Queen Elizabeth I stay there in 1578).
Image: Maids Head Hotel c.1900, kindly reproduced with permission from Norfolk County Council.
You’ll be dazzled by the hotel’s impressive Tudor, Georgian and Jacobean architecture, spanning 800 years of Norwich history. Over these years the hotel has withstood a lot, such as Kett’s rebellion in 1549, the arrival of the bubonic plague in 1602 and the devastating Baedeker Blitz of 1942 (Norwich had previously got off relatively lightly compared to other areas of the country, having had only 27 raids in total up until that time), - and still it stands strong!
Not only that, but it’s witnessed the arrival of the Industrial revolution, the infrastructure for tramlines (and the removal of them, too!), the pedestrianisation of the city centre (don’t ask Alan Partridge for his opinion on that, whatever you do – though the Maids Head bar is his favourite Norfolk pub, so he does have taste!) and, much more recently, the burning of the central Norwich library in 1994 - among countless other events of historical significance. If those walls could talk!
Surrounded by history the hotel is a great place to stay whether you are there for an historical visit or just an all-round relaxing UK city break; its location in the heart of Tombland means it’s close to super shopping (lots of little boutiques and antiques shops - don’t miss Elm Hill) and right among restaurants and bars. Of course, Norwich is such a compact city that you can stroll through the city easily, but if you’re arriving by car there’s ample private parking for guests, too. Its rooms are individually decorated in a modern style that still reflects the hotel’s history, character and charm yet offers 21st century delights such as Ipads for making restaurant reservations, room service and local suggestions of where to visit – the first of its kind for Norfolk!
Image: one of the bedrooms at The Maids Head Hotel
Top tip: the hotel has just been awarded a second AA Rosette for its amazing restaurant, the Winepress – book a table during your stay to enjoy delicious, locally-sourced food and drink in a delightful setting. Try and book the snug when you’re dining – it’s a beautifully historic room located in their Jacobean bar (believed to be one of the oldest bars in the area) and the perfect location for a romantic meal.
Abellio Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Abellio also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.