High Street, Colchester, CO1 1UG

Arriving at GreyFriars, we knew we were in for a treat. The luxury hotel and restaurant is situated in the centre of Colchester yet feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of town. This Michelin recommended venue has two AA rosettes and is a lush bolthole that gave us one of the most relaxing getaways we’ve had in years.

Our East Hill Suite was comfortable yet sophisticated, grand without being imposing. Before dinner we enjoyed a drink in our private walled garden before I retired for a pre-dinner soak in the deepest bathtub I’ve ever reclined in. If you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate in style, GreyFriars is the perfect choice; a suite would make a wonderful base for a bridal party preparing for the big day.

Refreshed and feeling revitalised, we headed to Cloisters, GreyFriars’ stylish restaurant. Joining the well-heeled clientele, we were immediately impressed with the chic decor, which includes an open bar at one end of the restaurant and a beautiful stained glass window at the other. Ambient lighting and mirrored walls lend a spacious feel while still maintaining the intimate atmosphere that Cloisters is known for.

We recommend ordering a few Mersea Rock or Colchester Native oysters with a glass of Prosecco while you peruse the menu, which features modern British and European dishes presented with flair. I chose to start with pan-fried Norfolk pigeon breast, served with quail egg, sautéed girolles, and a rich game jus. Making the most of our proximity to the coast, I continued with seafood, ordering the pan-fried sea bass dressed with pappardelle, capers, fresh lemon, pinenuts and a butter sauce – the dish was, quite simply, perfect. My husband’s starter of Colchester seafood cocktail, packed full of local lobster, crab and prawns, was delightfully light before his hearty main course of beef Wellington with sautéed potatoes. Unable to resist dessert after two such delectable courses, I plumped for the signature sticky toffee pudding with cinnamon tuile and ice cream, while my husband ordered the chocolate orange fondant. His rich dessert was accompanied by clementine ice cream, a deliciously indulgent treat.

From start to finish, our stay at GreyFriars was an absolute treat; we’re counting down the days until we can return.

Hannah Burton

Hannah is a keen foodie with a passion for travel, books and history. She regularly creeps out the office with her weird crushes (Mr Tumnis and Thomas Cromwell, among others) and is a lover of fun facts, punnery and quizzes.

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