Eat well, sleep in luxury while exploring the coast from Essex, via Suffolk, to Norfolk.
With well-known Southend-on-Sea as its neighbour, Leigh-on-Sea brims with charm and character and makes an excellent starting point for an exploration of Essex’s coast.
This is a town where you can step back in time along Old Leigh’s exquisite high street. It is a cobbled delight stuffed with creaking, superbly named pubs such as the Olde Smack Inn and rows of shops selling freshly landed cockles, mussels and whelks.
Up above the town you can gaze across the Thames estuary and Essex marshes from the scattered ruins of 13th century Hadleigh Castle, once deployed by Edward II, and later painted by Constable. Another fine vantage point to take in this landscape of magnificently eroding coastlines is via the spiral steps of the navigation tower at Naze Tower and Nature Reserve near Horsey Island.
The Essex coast also gives way to many estuaries, including the vast Blackwater estuary where you will find Le Bouchon Hotel featuring exposed beams and four-poster beds. Afternoon tea here, of sweet and savoury treats, is something of an event while the restaurant offers high-quality food that emphasises the nearby sea and farming hinterland: choices range from lightly spiced smoked haddock to beef bourguignon with savoy cabbage. The hotel also offers a ‘sail and dine’ option where you can enjoy a pre-dinner trip around the nearby waterways in the hotel’s private launch.
Thorpe Bay is a small community adjacent to the popular seaside destination of Southend but, with its pier, meandering waterways and options for locally sourced seafood, it is a different world when it comes to indulgence. The Roslin Beach Hotel is an eclectic mix of luxury and regal, with its interiors inspired by 1920s Art Nouveau and classic coastal aesthetics. Wander onto the beachside terrace for a cocktail or brunch and dine in the AA 2 rosette restaurant where the creative chefs will serve up a brown crab crumpet followed by skate wing. In between such delights, you can drop into Southend’s Focal Point Gallery, a contemporary art hub that draws on local and regional talent.