It wouldn’t have been my first choice to have a UK staycation break in 2020 as I had some amazing holidays abroad lined up… but COVID-19 completely ruined those plans so it’s looking more likely that a UK Staycation will be the only break I get this summer!
We had originally booked to go to Lisbon in May but that trip got cancelled so Airbnb kindly put what we had paid onto a travel voucher that can be used in the next year. So, with that being said, we decided to start looking at UK getaways where we could use our Airbnb voucher!
I started to think about where I wanted to go and some key places came to mind like… Cornwall. I’ve never been and it looks absolutely gorgeous, but I’m not sure I fancy driving 6 hours (probably more) if I’m only going to be there for 4-5 days.
So, we whittled our radius down to 2-3 hour car journey times which left us with a few options; Norfolk, the Cotswolds and the Peak District. I lived in Derby for 5 years so I know just how gorgeous it is in the Peak District, but I kinda wanted to go somewhere we’ve both never been before. So this just left the Cotswolds and Norfolk.
I was originally quite skeptical about Norfolk because I just automatically thought KIDS, KIDS EVERYWHERE – because of the beaches and holiday resorts. But I didn’t realise Norfolk was home to some smaller seaside towns and even countryside escapes! So, upon further research, we chose Norfolk for our July getaway!
Located in East Anglia, Norfolk is a county that boasts 90 miles of unspoilt coastline. with popular seaside resorts such as Hunstanton, Great Yarmouth and Wells-next-the-Sea. As well as its gorgeous coastline, Norfolk is also home to the Broads National Park, nature reserves and forests, and quaint market towns.
Knowing all of this helped us to realise that this would be the perfect location for a getaway. We’d have the beach as well as the countryside to explore, both of which we love!
TRAVEL TIP: I should probably say now that exploring Norfolk, especially whilst COVID is still lingering, is easiest done by car. There are some options for public transport, but some of the towns and villages can be quite remote, so having your own transport is an advantage. Further to this, when you’re looking for your accommodation make sure you check what the parking situation is so you don’t end up paying a fortune in public car parking tickets!
Areas to stay
This part of England serves a great purpose for a UK staycation whether you’re a couple, a family or a group of friends. Depending on what you want out of your trip, you’ll have plenty of options on where to stay in Norfolk.
After doing some research, this is where we decided to stay. In North Norfolk you will find a range of seaside towns and villages suitable for a quiet getaway with friends or a partner, such as Wells-next-the-Sea, Sheringham and Cromer. These towns give you the best of both worlds; a quiet place to relax with great food and drinks on your doorstep.
COVID TIP: I mentioned food and drinks here, but you must be thinking “but nothing is open yet?” so… I’m under the impression that most places are open for takeaways at the moment anyway, which means we can take food with us to the beach or to our Airbnb. Secondly, there is the possibility this summer that pubs and restaurants will re-open, firstly by serving people outside (socially distanced of course), so this would also be fine for our trip. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I’ll keep you updated!
In-land you’ll also find other small remote towns such as Holt and Fakenham. These small towns serve a great purpose if you’re looking to stay near the sea but want to experience the countryside too, with the drive from Holt to Wells-next-the-Sea being just 20 minutes.
Typically in these areas there will be less kids as well due to other parts of Norfolk being more suited to a family holiday…
Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth
And that’s where these resorts come in! Both Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth are popular destinations for Brits who have kids. Why? Because the beaches go on for miles and there are amenities designed for kids such as arcades, rides, and even a Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton.
Safe to say that for a quiet couples retreat we decided that these areas weren’t for us…
Broadlands and the Broads
The Norfolk Broads are 125 miles of navigable lock-free waterways. Obviously, the best way to see the Broads is by boat, but there is path and cycle ways next to the rivers and lakes if you’d prefer to explore on foot.
This National Park has been a holiday favourite for a while, with tourists hopping aboard for holidays on the Broads since the 1930s. Whilst you can explore the Broads by boat, you can also moor up in the pretty villages and market towns to see what they have to offer!
Depending on the type of holiday you’re after, you will have a few different options for accommodation in Norfolk. Whilst there will eventually be hotels open in these regions, the current COVID-19 situation makes me think it is safer to stay in a self contained Airbnb. So, these recommendations have been made on my own research as we’ve decided that a self catering premise is best for us.
The current situation alludes that it will be quite likely that hotels and private residences such as Airbnb’s will be bookable after 4th July 2020, so we were quite comfortable with booking something. If you’re not sure, just check with the Airbnb host first to make sure they’re accepting bookings after the 4th July. If the government advice changes and you’re unable to make your trip, it’s likely you’ll receive a credit voucher like I did, that can be used on future trips.
Converted barns and stables in Norfolk
The first self-catering accommodation type I came across in Norfolk were converted barns and stables. Initial thoughts – very quirky! I like these types of properties because they are usually quite cute, decorated to a high standard, and all on one level like a bungalow.
These types of properties usually only sleep up to 6 people, but you’d be surprised at what you can find on Airbnb these days! What I also like is that most of these properties usually have a fully functioning kitchen which is ideal if you’re planning on making your own food. The Airnbnb I’ve linked below is the one that we’re staying in!
AIRBNB TIP: Always check the images of the kitchen to see if they have a fully functioning hob/oven. Some of the listings I had viewed said they had a kitchen, but when looking at the photos and enquiring, they didn’t have an oven or a hob. If you’re planning on cooking food (which we are because of the COVID situation), then you’ll want to make sure in advance rather than be disappointed on arrival.
Shepherds huts in Norfolk
A popular accommodation type I saw in North Norfolk (mainly in the countryside rather than by the coast) is a shepherds hut and glamping options too. I’d never heard of a shepherd’s hut before but it’s basically a tiny little cabin with wheels, essentially like a cart!
Inside you’ll find a really compacted room with everything you need during your stay. You’ll find a bed, a mini kitchen, and sometimes even a sofa and TV! The bathroom however is located outside the shepherds hut.
These are a great option if you’re just travelling as a pair and you’re only going for a night or two. If you’re staying longer then you’ll most likely need something a bit bigger or a bit more comfortable. Plus, if you’re planning on making food for yourself then you’d struggle with a make-shift kitchen.
AIRBNB TIP: Check to see if they provide a BBQ. It’s not always clear from the pictures or the descriptions if they provide a BBQ in the outside areas. Just pop them a quick message to ask them, as this might solve your oven/hob issues if you’re looking to self-cater in the evenings.
Motor homes and static caravans in Norfolk
Mostly common in Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth, you’ll find some holiday parks with motor homes / static caravans that will sleep up to 8 people. These are perfect if you’re going away as part of a group or with your family.
What’s more is that because these are set in a resort park you’ll also have access to the onsite facilities as part of your booking such as the pool, gym, and you can even hire bikes!
AIRBNB TIP: Check the minimum nights stay for the season you’re booking. When I started looking for July, the amount of places available to us was EXTREMELY limited. Why? Because of course it’s the summer holidays and the hosts expect you to take a weeks holiday with them. Well, I don’t have kids honey and I just want to stay for 3-4 nights thank you very much! I must say I was surprised that some of the properties weren’t even offering Monday – Friday stays, they just wanted weekly stays. Due to this location being a seaside resort, this might be an issue you encounter, but it’s worth talking to the host and seeing if the can waiver it at all.
One of the most popular types of accommodation I found on Airbnb throughout the entirety of Norfolk was cute and quaint cottages. From super small cottages that just sleep 2 people, right through to large cottages that have the capacity to sleep 10 people, you’re spoilt for choice.
These cottages are usually maintained to a high standard and come with a fully equipped kitchen, perfect for your self catering staycation. What’s more is that they usually have a private garden which is great for those summer evenings where you want to dine al-fresco with a glass of wine!
AIRBNB TIP: Always check the description and the listing to see if they’ve got wifi! It might sound silly but a few Airbnb’s we came across simply didn’t have wifi. The host on one we looked at actually made the conscious decision to get rid of the internet to make it more a retreat, which in essence does sound good for a digital detox, but the 3G connections can be pretty dire in this part of the UK so you’ve got no hope in hell at trying to watch a Netflix movie if you wanted a chill evening!
Our booking in Norfolk
So…. we booked our trip to Norfolk!
The first Airbnb we requested to book didn’t get accepted because the host “needed the property during this week”. But when I asked about the following week he said “it’s a 6 night minimum stay now”. So, yeah, he put a spanner in the works!
However, the second one we requested to book was accepted! This listing said it didn’t have wifi which was an issue for us, but on a whim I messaged the host to triple check that was the case, and she replied within the hour to apologise that she’d forgotten to update the listing as she’d recently got wifi at the property! WINNER WINNER!
I am super excited about getting away for a few days and exploring somewhere new. The Airbnb itself looks so cute (pics below) and the surrounding areas look gorgeous!
Will you be heading on a UK staycation this summer? Let me know in the comments where you’re thinking of going and if Norfolk is on your list!