Great British Boltholes: The Assembly House in Norwich is a real Georgian gem with stylish rooms big enough to be apartments
- The Assembly House in Norwich is built on the site of a 13th Century monastery
- There are 11 stylish rooms, all so capacious that they feel more like apartments
- It hosts exhibitions and performances and also houses a cookery school
Norwich is a beautifully preserved medieval city, with cobbled streets, city walls, a Norman castle, 12th Century cathedral and historic buildings at every turn.
One of the most notable is the Assembly House – an imposing Georgian building built on the site of a 13th Century monastery – which has undergone a series of metamorphoses: private house, educational establishment and, during the Second World War, a camouflage school where soldiers learned the art of concealment.
Its heyday was in the 18th and 19th Centuries when, as an Assembly House, it was the place for gentry to gather to drink, dance and celebrate events such as Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar.
An oasis of calm: The garden at the Assembly House – an imposing Georgian building built on the site of a 13th Century monastery
Today, the building is a glorious contemporary reimagining of its Georgian counterpart. Owned by a charitable trust, it hosts exhibitions and performances, houses a restaurant and cookery school, and can be hired out.
You can also stay in one of the 11 stylish rooms, although ‘rooms’ is an understatement. In a secluded wing of the main house, six have their own secret gardens, four have their own lounges, and all are so capacious they feel more like apartments.
Bathrooms boast freestanding two-person tubs, and each room features a mix of 17th Century etchings and contemporary canvases.
The pre-theatre dinner menu (£17 for two courses, £21.95 for three) has appetite-whetting dishes such as smoked mackerel and spring onion salad, followed by pan-fried stone bass with sage and hazelnut butter, succulent pork belly stew and roasted sweet potato with warm saffron vinaigrette.
One of the 11 stylish rooms at the Assembly House. In a secluded wing of the main house, six rooms have their own secret gardens, four have their own lounges
Bed and breakfast at the Assembly House, Norwich starts from £170 a night.
For more information visit assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk.
Gourmet breakfasts are served in a light-filled, ochre-walled room and, whether you’re a full English, buttermilk pancakes or souffle omelette Arnold Bennett kind of person, this will set you up for a day’s meandering through Norwich’s vast outdoor market, boutique-lined lanes or beside the River Wensum, which loops around local landmarks from the cathedral to Norwich City’s Carrow Road ground.
The Assembly House’s afternoon tea is revered by locals and you can see why: sitting beside the fireplace, or beneath a vast crystal chandelier of the Grand Hall, listening to a mix of grand piano and excited chatter, feels like stepping back in time and being part of a great Georgian Assembly House extravaganza.
The USP: It still does what it says on the tin: a place for dining and entertainment, and to stay.
The rooms: Carved wooden fireplaces, vast canopied beds and window seats with a view.
The food: Locally inspired menus created by Assembly House director and chef Richard Hughes, who is also the founder of the eponymous on-site cookery school.