travel

Suffolk's Wilderness Reserve offers the perfect romantic retreat just two hours outside of London - review

Chris Hobbs spends a luxurious weekend in breathtaking surrounds.

2018-01-29

At this time of the year escape is on most people’s minds and if the sunbaked beaches of Tulum (that are no doubt currently flooding your Instafeed) are out of reach then a weekend in the British countryside should be actively encouraged.

Our weekend adventure took us to Wilderness on the Suffolk coast. An ideal escape from the weekly grind and a mere two hour journey east of London.

We left on Friday night from Liverpool Street, though I strongly suggest an afternoon arrival: 1) No mad dash across a frantic Liverpool Street Station concourse and 2) How lovely it is to arrive at your destination in daylight to fully appreciate the estate.

However our 8pm arrival did allow us to drive into the grounds shrouded in mist, by a pre-booked Rolls Royce no less, imagining we were driving back in time and about to come face to face with the Downtown Abby cast.

Sibton Park was built in 1827 by Robert Sayer

The centrepiece of the estate is the Grade II listed Sibton Park. Built in 1827, This 12-bedroom Georgian country house has been revived with chinoiserie wallpaper and elegantly curated antiques is set next to a beautiful natural lake modified by landscape designer Kim Wilkie and within a ha-ha – a brilliantly named waterless moat that keeps out roaming animals. 

We stayed in the spectacularly restored Farmhouse, a short walk from Sibton Park, formerly the estate’s home farm, which is painted a very social friendly shade of millennial pink and meticulously restored thatched roof.

The Farmhouse

The house sleeps up to 12 guests across 6 uniquely decorated bedrooms and features a spacious kitchen-cum-dining room for a lavish dinner, which if you’re feeling especially flush you can hire a chef to come and cook for you, before retiring to the sofa-filled sitting room for TV or games.

Our bedroom was on the top floor looking out onto the grounds and the lake beyond. Stay in, relax, read a book or indulge in a soak in the Victorian roll top baths in your cozy en suite.

A bedroom in The Farmhouse

Elsewhere on the estate is The Clockhouse, a former Georgian coach house with four double bedrooms as well as an adjoining barn conversion, which has three en-suite bedrooms. A key feature of Wilkie’s work on the estate is to build downwards, so as not to disrupt any of the original landscape; a real feat given the modernisation that was required.

This approach is most evident in the Gate Lodge, which on first inspection is exactly that – but on a closer encounter the two insular peaks are connected by a lavish, beautifully finished two-bedroom treasure and for those looking for a full digital detox, Hex Cottage nestled deep into the ground has no electricity and is heated by a single wood-burner (which also provides the hot water) – this is the place to completely switch off.

The cozy sitting room at Hex Cottage

Wilderness also offers all the country pursuits you’d expect from a traditional English estate, including archery, clay-pigeon shooting, swimming in the outdoor pool, bird-watching, buggy tours and cycling. We enjoyed a morning of archery and a bracing cycle across the grounds as well as a Bridget Jones style boat rowing across the lake before our minibus returned back to London and reality.

For further information and bookings please contact Wilderness020 7484 5700