A Suffolk Sojourn


Do you know how many Brits holidayed in the UK this year? The answer may surprise you.

Last year, a whopping 82% had a staycation – perhaps unsurprising, given the Covid pandemic. Fast forward to 2023, and the proportion has only come down slightly, to 75%. According to research by Sykes Holiday Cottages, three-quarters of Brits will holiday on home soil this year, with at least 43% planning to make this their main break.

Of course, foreign travel bookings are surging, thanks to the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions – but it seems staycations are still enjoying their moment in the sun. Domestic tourism will boost the UK economy by an estimated £28bn this year. The cost-of-living crisis is playing a part, as many holidaymakers look for cheaper options. But interestingly the top two reasons for staycationing, according to Sykes, are “enjoyed holidaying in the UK over the past two years” and “pandemic highlighted how much the UK has to offer”.

Aldeburgh (Photo by Manolo Blanco, courtesy of Flickr)

With this in mind, I chose a British location for our half-term break in October. I’d previously been to Aldeburgh, Suffolk, for a day trip and always thought it was a charming seaside town. So, we booked a cottage, packed up our car, and headed to the Suffolk coast.

The forecast was rain, rain and rain (always a hazard with a staycation, regardless of the month you go).

Happily, we did enjoy some sunny spells, and to be honest, a bit of drizzle didn’t deter my five-year-old and six-year-old from larking around on the beach in their wellies, running around Maggi Hambling’s “Scallop” sculpture, and skimming stones as the waves crashed.

We chose Lapwings, a two-bedroom end-of-terrace cottage as the base for our staycation. It was comfortable, cosy and had all the mod cons, perfect to warm up in / dry off in / relax and unwind. It’s part of the Best of Suffolk collection, which claims to “bring the experience of a boutique hotel to self-catering cottages in Suffolk”, and bookable via Sykes.

A complimentary bottle of wine and box of cookies was a nice touch from the owner when we arrived. A well-stocked kitchen (we particularly appreciated the plastic plates and cups for the kids, and the washing machine) plus a designated parking space in front of the cottage made the trip easy and stress-free. For those visiting in warmer months, it’s worth noting there’s a south-facing garden with seating and barbecue.

The quaint yet vibrant centre of Aldeburgh is a 10–15-minute walk away. Whether you want to browse the independent shops, or admire the colourful houses overlooking the pebbled beach, Aldeburgh has something for everyone. Our kids enjoyed looking around the lifeboat station, and spotting the wildlife along Crag Path, which runs along the seafront.

Seafood lovers can check out the freshly caught fish in the huts by the beach, and cook up a feast at home. Those not wanting the hassle of cooking – and washing up – can dine at an array of restaurants, cafes and pubs. The Mill Inn was our favourite, and got a big thumbs up from the whole family.

There’s plenty to do in the local area, including visiting Thorpeness, an old-fashioned holiday resort less than two miles away, where the main attraction is hiring a rowing boat on the lake. My husband rowed, I gazed at the beautiful holiday homes and the House in the Clouds (a repurposed water tower), while our children pointed out islands inspired by Peter Pan stories.

We also drove over to the village of Orford to check out the castle and stock up on treats from the equally gorgeous and delicious Pump Street Bakery, and did a day trip to Flatford Mill to admire the views that John Constable painted more than 200 years ago.

All in all, our autumnal English break was a great success. I imagine 2024 will also continue the staycation trend – the question for us is where to go to next.

For more information on Lapwings, including bookings enquiries, and for more cottages in the Sykes portfolio, please visit www.sykescottages.co.uk.

Header image courtesy of The Mill Inn, Aldeburgh