“ Address: 3 Angel Hill / Bury St Edmunds / Suffolk / IP33 1LT England / Telephone: 01284 714000 „
A while ago I had to go to Bury St.Edmunds on business over a three day period. My first question on being told this news was "Where the bloody hell is Bury St. Edmunds?" Now, being a lad from Manchester I thought the only Bury was situated in Lancashire and was famous for its black puddings. However, as I gladly found out, there is a lovely market town in the heart of Suffolk (that's near Ipswich, Newmarket and Cambridge if you didn't know) which shares part of its name with its Lancashire counterpart and that is where I was to visit.
****** So having found out where you were going, why did you decide to stay at The Angel ******
The two main criteria which I tend to adopt when visiting a hotel for the first time is that it has to be a reasonable standard (at least 3 star) and that its location is central and easily accessible to the places I wish to visit. As I said above, I had to visit on business so I wasn't too bothered about the cost as this wasn't coming directly out of my sky rocket. However, having said that, we are still constrained by budgets so there is a certain cost we could get away with spending. The Angel Hotel met both of these criteria in that it was advertised as a 42 Bedroom 3 star hotel located on Angel Hill which is located in the heart of the town directly opposite the Cathedral.
****** So how much were the rooms ******
I booked my room via a third party company which my employer utilises so I do not know what sort of discount they have managed to negotiate, and whether any of this is passed on to ourselves. However, I was put up in a double room, which included full English Breakfast, for two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) at a cost of £174.00, or £87.00 per night. These rates are significantly lower than those advertised on the hotels web site (see below), but I do not know whether such a discount would be readily available.
Examination of the Hotels' website does not display the room tariff but advises you to contact the hotel. As a guide the following prices were applicable when I last stayed here in 2006.
All prices include Full Suffolk Breakfast and VAT
Standard Room £135
Single occupancy £125
Prestige Rooms £195
Single occupancy £185
Sunday Special Rate
1 night slumber for two people sharing a standard double or twin bedded room with full suffolk breakfast - £80
The Angel Break
2 nights slumber for 2 people in individually designed rooms, full Suffolk breakfast each morning and dinner on both evenings, price per person per night - £84
****** So having driven for 4 hours, what were your first impressions of the Hotel ******
Pulling up in the car park outside the front of the hotel you cannot fail to be impressed by the splendour of the hotel which is located on three floors and is located directly opposite to the towns Cathedral. The front of the hotel is covered in Ivy which adds to its appeal. My second impression was that we were in a pay and display car park which was going to be expensive if we were within walking distance of all amenities during our three day stay. However, I did recall when we booked the room that the hotel does have "limited parking" facilities so we quickly enquired at reception as to where this parking was and whether any was available.
****** What exactly do they mean by "limited parking" ******
A bit like Ronseal - exactly what it says on the tin. The friendly receptionist advised us that there were facilities for approximately fifteen vehicles at the rear of the hotel, but this would require you to leave your car keys at reception in case your vehicle needed to be moved. Having the choice of this or having to pay car parking charges for the next three days (or so we thought) we opted to park in the small car park. Having parked our vehicle we were then able to enter the hotel via a side entrance.
***** How efficient was the Check-In process ******
There's nothing more annoying when you check in at a hotel than providing a host of details which you have already provided when booking the accommodation. I am pleased to say, however, that this was not an issue at The Angel. The whole process from start to finish took no longer than 2 minutes, and I was allocated Room Number 007 which was conveniently located on the ground floor at the rear of the hotel, meaning I could also ensure the safety of my vehicle. Bargain !!.
So having left reception, walked down a ramp (which was plenty wide enough for a wheelchair or child's buggy), turned a corner, I came face to face with my room.
****** Now for the important stuff, what were the rooms like ? ******
Before I came to the hotel, I checked a consumer website and to be honest it filled me a little bit with trepidation. Many of the reports commented on how small the rooms were with some having mouldy walls or peeling wallpaper. So before entering the room, I shut my eyes and hoped for the best. One two three open your eyes. Sounds like Changing Rooms and to be honest it was just like that.
Outside the room I had an image of a small dingy room with peeling wallpaper and mould growing at an alarming rate. However, the transformation when I plucked up the courage to open my eyes was immense. The room was surprisingly large, and was decorated in a contrast of warm oranges and yellows. The bed was I think a Queen Size, and the number of storage spaces and work areas was a surprising pleasure.
The room had all the usual features you would expect but also had a trouser press, ironing board, hair dryer, tea and coffee making facilities and a television, which included the usual mix or terrestrial and cable channels including Sky News and Sky Sports. The room directly overlooked the car park at the rear of the hotel which was an added bonus.
The room also had an Air Conditioning / Central Heating system which meant you were able to regulate the temperature of the room fairly easily.
****** And what about the bathroom ******
I don't know if it's just me but I can't be doing with farting little bathrooms where there is no room to swing a cat. This bathroom is NOTHING like that at all. It was huge. As I said before, the room was located on the ground floor and I think it was fairly obvious that this room has been designed specifically with the needs of mobility impaired clients in mind. The bathroom had various rails located around it, and the shower was actually located on two different levels, which would also be beneficial to young children. As you would expect, there was also a bath as part of the shower unit.
The storage space around the wash basin was immense. I don't usually have that many toiletries but typically it is a challenge to find room for the few that I do have. At The Angel I could have brought my wife along and we would have struggled to fill half of the room available around the wash basin !!
A nice touch from the hotel was the number of complimentary shower gels, shampoos, sewing kit and tweezers which were left in the room.
On the sudject of nice touches, my room was 007. In keeping with the James Bond theme a variety of Ian Fleming books and magazines were littered around the room.
We were clearly staying in the newer part of the hotel which I understand has bigger rooms. They are certainly decorated to a very high standard. If you decide to stay at The Angel I would insist on staying in rooms 001 - 007.
****** You say your room was in the newer part. What is the history surrounding the hotel? ******
Spreading over the sites of numbers 1, 2 and 3 Angel Hill, the main building (No 3) was built around 1778 with the remainder being added no earlier than 1830. There has, however, been a building on the site of The Angel since the 13th century and this is confirmed by the vaulted cellars, which now form The Vaults restaurant area. Records also exist of an inn at the site from 1452. Previous owners of the hotel include William Tassell after whom the main suite was named, and Thomas Bridgeman whose portrait hangs in the Bridgeman Room, a private function room.
****** Is the hotel part of a chain, or has it managed to retain its independence ******
The hotel has been owned by the Gough family since 1973, when it was a 2 star, 50 bedroom hotel. A bathroom en-suite was a limited luxury! The late Richard Gough summed up the duty of owning The Angel, seeing himself as a custodian of an important landmark. The efforts of Dick and Mary Gough were recognised when in 1990 Mary Gough received an MBE for services to the hotel industry. The day to day running of The Angel is now overseen by Robert Gough.
****** I hear The Angel has an important part to play in history. Is this true ? ******
The Angel is probably best known because of its mention by Charles Dickens in his famous "Pickwick Papers". Charles Dickens stayed at The Angel himself on two occasions, once in 1859 and again in 1861, to present readings in the nearby Athanaeum. On both occasions he stayed in Room 15, and the four poster bed he wrote of can still be seen in the room today.
This short extract from his book has probably done more for the Angel's fame than any other piece written:
"The coach rattled through the streets of a handsome town of thriving and cleanly appearance and stopped before a large Inn situated in a wide open street facing the old abbey. "This must be Bury St. Edmunds, and this" said Mr Pickwick, looking up "is The Angel".
****** Having seen the hotel what about the Restaurant ? ******
As I said at the start of the review, I was away on business and unfortunately, the limit of the expenses available fell well short of the prices demanded at The Angel. Consequently, we decided on that great bastion of English cusine.....CURRY. On the second night we dined at La Tasca which is literally located just around the corner from The Angel. We did however, sample breakfast at the hotel on two separate ocassions. If you do decide you would like to dine in the restaurant, sample menus are displayed on the Hotels website (see address at the bottom of this review).
****** Although you didn't dine in the restaurant, what did you make of the catering facilities ******
As you would expect from a Hotel of this size room service is available twenty four hours a day. In addition to this, two restaurants are available, 1 at ground floor level which is fairly formal, and The Vaults which is located in the basement of the Hotel. The main restaurant is easily accessible for those people with mobility issues, whereas you would struggle down the stairs to The Vaults. We ate breakfast in The Vaults and you can't help but marvel at the architectural elegance.
Room service menu is available 24 hours a day with Hot food served from 12 noon to 2.00pm and 6.00pm - 9.30pm.
Both restaurant menus are available on request.
Please be aware that between the hours of 10.00pm and 10.00am only the sandwiches and soup are available.
Tyopical food available from the room service menu includes:
Local Ham £7.95
Starters and Main Courses
Today's freshly made soup with homemade bread £6.95
Oriental king prawns with sweet chilli dip small £7.95
Smoked salmon with lemon, caper berries and cornichons small £6.95
Fillet steak with pepper sauce and chips £25.00
Today's fish (Please call reception) £16.95
Newmarket sausages with mashed potatoes, vegetables and onion gravy £11.95
All at £6.95
Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream
Bread and butter pudding
Warm chocolate brownie with clotted cream
Vanilla pod ice cream with crispy tuiles
Seasoned chips £3.25
A full Suffolk and continental breakfast menu is available in the restaurant from 7.00am until 9.30am Monday to Friday, and from 8.00am until 10.00am on Saturday and Sunday. Breakfast can also be served in the comfort of your own room.
****** When is the Restaurant Open ******
Luncheon Monday to Saturday 12.00pm - 3.00pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 6.00pm - 9.30pm
Sunday lunch is available 12.00pm - 3.00pm
There is no strict dress code.
****** Does the Hotel cater for Childrens Meals ******
Childrens meals are available and apparantly the chef is very flexible !!
A bowl of vegetable crisps £1.95
Fresh local apple juice £1.95
Penne Pasta with a fresh tomato sauce & Cheddar cheese £3.95
Fresh Lowestoft cod fish fingers with big chips, peas or baked beans £4.95
Newmarket sausages with mashed potatoes, carrots and peas £4.95
Beans on toast £2.95
****** What did you make of the breakfast ******
Breakfast was in The Vaults and consisted of your choice of Tea and Coffee, toast, cereals, fresh juices, youghurts etc. A cooked breakfast including Newmarket Sausage and your choice of eggs was brought to your table i.e there was no opportunity to fill your face !!
The breakfast was very well presented although could possibly have done with an extra sausage or rasher of bacon as the hotel don't believe in giving you more than one of anything.
****** Did you have any other issues ******
No, well apart from waking up on the first morning, looking out onto the car park and seeing the car park half empty but without my car in it !! However, after enquiring at reception, I was advised that it had been moved to the front of the Hotel onto the pay and display car park. When I asked how much this was going to cost me, I was advised that the hotel have an arrangement with the local Council, and the hotel put a note in your car advising that you are a resident at the hotel, and therefore you will not be charged for parking.
****** How efficient was the Checking Out process ******
Once again this was undertaken very quickly and efficiently. We wanted to check out of our room in the morning, but we still had work commitments to undertake off site so we enquired whether we could keep our car on the hotel car park until approximately 12 o'clock. "No problem. As long as it's gone by 2 o'clock when new guests start to arrive". The staff really do go beyond the call of duty. As it turned out, when we returned to our vehicle we were boxed in but the concierge was able to move the "offending" vehicle within a couple of minutes and we were quickly on our way.
****** OK. Enough about the hotel, are there any local attractions where this would make the ideal base? ******
My one regret about the trip was that it was very much work based and we were not able to take advantage of many of the wonderful attractions available to us. However, to assist you in making a decision as to whether to stay at this location, I have attached a brief list of possible attractions with a little bit of blurb about each.
Created as a botanic garden in 1831, following the pattern of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Brussels, the abbey ruins stand in the centre of these award winning gardens. Situated opposite the front of the Angel. Well worth a visit.
Blackthorpe Barn Craft Centre
Rougham, Nr Bury St. Edmunds with classical music, antiques fairs, drama, visual arts and seasonal Christmas Craft markets, this superb local barn is well worth a visit. Approx 10 minutes drive.
Tel 01359 270091
Bressingham Steam Museum
Situated near Diss (30 mins drive). A working steam museum, with award winning gardens too, and a "Dads Army" museum, this has something for all. Prices vary according to events included.
Tel 01379 686900
With a plethora of beautiful university buildings, and a charming mediaeval centre, this market city will interest all. Some colleges charge admission - these vary. Also a great place to shop.
Situated in the market town of Sudbury. The birthplace museum of Thomas Gainsborough (1727 - 1788) is home to more of his paintings than displayed anywhere else in the world. Approx 40 minutes drive.
Swing from tree to tree high above Thetford Forest at the Go Ape aerial assault course, for over 2 hours of adrenalin-fuelled fun, laughter and adventure. Approx ½ hour drive away. Sessions start every half hour and the course takes approximately 2 - 3 hours to complete.
Tel 0870 420 1279 www.goape.co.uk
Greene King Brewery
Follow beer-making through the ages (and taste it too !) as you tour the historic local brewery (not for limited mobility). Evening tours can be pre-booked. Tel 01284 714382 www.greeneking.co.uk
Situated in Horringer, Nr Bury St. Edmunds. A uniquely architectural National Trust house with formal gardens, and rolling parkland estates. A must for a walk or picnic. Approx 10 minutes drive.
Tel 01284 735270
Situated in Long Melford just off the A134 between Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury, not just a moated house but a lived-in home with extensive gardens and farm to explore, with famous re-creations of Tudor life. Approx 20/25 minutes drive.
Tel 01787 310207 www.kentwell.co.uk
Situated near Sudbury. The showpiece of Suffolk, this exquisitively preserved mediaeval town has historic houses to visit and is irresistible to stroll around in! Approx 30 minutes drive.
This former wool town is the "antiques capital of Suffolk". Its wide, tree-lined high street is full of antique shops and centres. Approx 20 - 25 minutes drive.
Manor House Museum
Founded upon collections assembled over more than a century, this museum of art and horology collects, preserves and presents two quite different, but complementary themes. One is of the changing artistic tastes and achievements of local people; the other is of the development of timekeeping in Britain, Europe and America.
Tel 01284 757076 www.stedmunds.co.uk/lifestyle/manor-house.html
This beautiful historic house has changes little externally since 1578. Internally it offers a Regency library, Victorian bedrooms, excellent collections of furniture and porcelain and a small display of items connected with Beatrix Potter, who was related to the Hyde Parker family who have owned the property since 1786. The garden contains some spectacular specimen trees and there is an attractive walk through the park. Allow 2 hours
Tel 01787 880286 www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Moyse's Hall Museum
Moyse's Hall is a rare example of Norman domestic architecture, now used as a museum. Collections include the Suffolk Regiment Gallery, local history and archaeology.
Tel 01284 716083 www.stedmunds.co.uk/moyses_hall.html
National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket
The Headquarters and home of british racing. Visit the National Horseracing Museum, which offers daily tours and exhibitions, this is a unique museum. Also visit the National Stud and the Jockey Club to name but a few of the many places of interest that this famous town has to offer. Approx 15 - 20 minutes drive.
Tel 01638 667333 www.newmarket-suffolk.com
Pakenham Water Mill
Situated in Pakenham, near Bury St Edmunds. The Doomsday Book records a mill in this lovely village. The mill is no longer active but makes an interesting museum visit. Approx 15 minutes drive.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Situated opposite the front of the Angel and once the only cathedral in Europe without a spire. The cathedral houses the tomb of St Edmund, King and Martyr, which gave the town its motto "shrine of a king, cradle of the law". Tours pre-booked.
Opened in 1819, the Theatre Royal was one of the most elegant, sophisticated and up-to-date playhouses of its age. An active theatre with a varied performance programme, this rare Georgian playhouse also has tours June - August. 5 minute walk from the hotel.
Tel 01284 755127 www.theatreroyal.org
Victorian Christmas Fayre
A charming annual event, that takes place on the second weekend of December. The fayre is held on Angel Hill immediately outside the front of the hotel with French and English stalls offering a variety of goods and produce.
West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village
A reconstructed 420 - 650 AD village, with costume reconstructions in August and on Bank holiday weekends. Beautiful site with nature walks
Tel 01284 728718
****** How can I find out more information about The Hotel ******
Firstly, you can visit the Hotels web site which includes a wealth of information and photos of the hotel which should wet your appetite
Telephone 01284 714000
Facsimile 01284 714001
The Angel Hotel
3 Angel Hill
Bury St. Edmunds
I hope you have found this review to be helpful and if you do decide to visit, hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Remember to ask for Room Numbers 001 - 007.