The best cottages in Norfolk for a holiday in England’s ‘Venice of the East’


Please note our writers visited Norfolk prior to the coronavirus pandemic

As a family holiday destination, Norfolk fits the bill perhaps better than any other English county. Its long, sandy coast provides ample opportunities for days at the beach; the abundant wildlife of the Broads can be explored by boat; and cycling through the picturesque landscape of undulating fields, flint country cottages and salt marshland is gentle thanks to the flat terrain.

As if that’s not enough, the county is dotted with grand stately homes, ruined castles, quaint country pubs and fascinating museums covering all facets of Norfolk’s history. All of this is perfect for a staycation but, with so many holiday cottages in Norfolk, it can be difficult to find the right place for your family. After visiting dozens around the country, here’s our pick of the best cottages to rent in Norfolk.

Manor Farm, Pulham Market

This 500-year old, beautifully renovated farmhouse with a thatched roof and distinctive pink facade sleeps up to eight guests in four bedrooms (two twins and two doubles). It’s best suited to a group – of friends or family – that wants to combine stay-put days with forays into inland Norfolk or Suffolk, or longer days out to the coast. Facilities are on the basic side, but the historic atmosphere and unique character of the property make it a good choice for a reunion or a special celebration. Dogs are also welcome. 

Four nights from £489; sleeps up to eight (

Manor Farm, Norfolk

Manor Farm is fairly isolated in rural surroundings near Pulham Market village

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The Norfolk Mead, Coltishall

The two cottages; Blackberry and Sweet Chestnut are part of the The Norfolk Mead hotel in a peaceful, rural spot next to a tributary of the River Bure. Sweet Chestnut sleeps up to four people in two bedrooms and Blackberry sleeps up to six in three bedrooms. Both have large lounge areas and private terraces. A boat can be hired from the hotel for half a day (£90; six people), and picnic hampers are available.

One night from £260; sleeps up to four (



Rates provided by

Norfolk Mead, Norfolk

The two cottages are part of The Norfolk Mead hotel near a tributary to the River Bure

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Barsham Barns, North Barsham

This versatile complex can be rented as a whole (sleeping 52 in total) or individually (the smallest, The Loose Box, sleeps four, while the Great East Barn sleeps 14) and in various combinations. Thoughtfully converted by the owner-architect, modern layers of cement and render have been removed from interior walls to reveal the mellow chalk, flint and red-brick below. Old beams and rafters remain in situ, enhanced by a stylish, minimalist mix of plain but bold colours, striking pictures and contemporary furniture.

Three nights from £600; sleeps up to four (

Barsham Barns, Norfolk

Great Eastern Barn has ample entertaining space

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Appleton Water Tower, Sandringham

You may develop a taste for vertical living at this 60-foot, Victorian water tower on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, converted to accommodate four people. Close to the small village of West Newton, it’s a 20-minute drive to King’s Lynn and the Wash, and nine miles from the beach resort at Hunstanton. The best beaches, seaside villages and market towns of North Norfolk are within an easy and scenic drive. It’s a striking and memorable base for exploring “royal” Norfolk.

Four nights from £546; sleeps up to four (

Appleton Water Tower, Norfolk

Appleton is a 60-foot-tall Victorian water tower on the Queen’s Sandringham estate

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Estcourt House, Burnham Market

This grade II-listed, five-bedroom Georgian house overlooks the village centre at the north-eastern edge of the central village green. It’s in an excellent location for families or groups looking to stay in the very centre of smart Burnham Market (known as “Chelsea-on-Sea” because of its summertime invasion of well-heeled holidaymakers), close to a variety of small shops and restaurants. The best beaches in this region are within a 15-minute drive.

Four nights from £1,241; sleeps up to 10 (

Estcourt House, Norfolk

Estcourt House feels like a home-from-home with a welcoming, lived-in atmosphere

Itteringham Manor, Itteringham

In the picture-perfect village of Itteringham, surrounded by Norfolk’s most beautiful inland countryside, this superb, early 18th-century manor run by the National Trust is ideal for groups of up to eight people. Don’t come here if you want a state-of-the-art kitchen or modern furnishings, instead come here for the elegant, pamment-tiled entrance hall, wood-panelled living rooms, balustrade staircase, antique furniture, shuttered sash windows and large, open fire places. The Blickling Estate is close by, and both the coast and city of Norwich are a 20-minute drive away. 

Three nights from £539; sleeps up to eight (

Itteringham Manor, Norfolk

Guests come to Itteringham Manor for an affordable “Lord of the Manor” stay


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Chaucer Barn, Gresham

Cleverly converted, this barn retains a great sense of space, light and style, and is a good place to pick for a celebration or large group gathering. Exposed flint and brick, heavy oak beams and wood or pamment-tiled floors blend with overlarge sofas, statement lighting and vast picture windows. The property sleeps 18 and most of the nine bedrooms are in a modern extension which lies at a right angle to the older building. The latter houses the striking master bedroom and “banqueting hall” seating up to 18. The garden is also a big draw.

Two nights from £1,070; sleeps up to 18 (

Chaucer Barn, Norfolk

The atmosphere at Chaucer Barn is informal and relaxed with colourful, boho furnishings set off by original, exposed brick and flintwork

(C) Chris Taylor Photo/Chris Taylor

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4 Park Gates, near Aylsham

Location is the main selling point of this otherwise unexceptional but welcoming cottage. It’s in the perfect spot for fully enjoying the Blickling estate and ideal for anyone looking for a peaceful, rural break with friends, family and dogs. The style is a few notches above some other National Trust properties with refurbished rooms, sleeping up to eight, freshened up with stylish, floral curtain and bedspread fabrics. Further plus points include its proximity to a good pub, lake fishing and the Georgian market town of Aylsham.

Three nights from £545; sleeps up to eight (

4 Park Gates, Norfolk

4 Park Gates is actually two former estate workers‘ houses cleverly knocked into one which means four bedrooms, parking for up to four cars and a large, grassy garden

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Treehouses at West Lexham Manor, West Lexham

In a small inland village in the Brecks area of mid-west Norfolk, these super-cool “treehouses” are good places to escape the 21st century. Along with cottages and bell tents, the six lodges are situated in the grounds of a 21-acre, privately owned manor house and can sleep from two to six people (a higher rate for the latter) in quirkily gorgeous, rustic rooms. There’s an on-site boating lake and tennis court, plus typical glamping activities (story-telling, campfires, craft) plus shared cooking facilities and bathrooms located a short walk from the living space. 

Three nights from £300; sleeps up to two (

West Lexham Manor, Norfolk

Rooms at West Lexham Manor’s treehouses are built with a great deal of artistic flair on raised platforms

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North Down House, Blakeney

This house is in a rare and special location, close to the coast with superb views of the sea, salt marshes, moored boats and nature reserve of Blakeney Point. It’s a great base for walkers, families and anyone wishing to explore the North Norfolk coast, while staying somewhere with a real sense of location.  An open plan kitchen-diner plus a reasonably cosy sitting room with open fire. Three nicely furnished bedrooms are on the snug side, but what they lack in space, they make up for in sweeping sea views.

Three nights from £525; sleeps up to six (

North Down House, Norfolk

Cosy furnishings and a real fire help keep the atmosphere snug in winter months at North Down House

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The Boathouse, Blakeney

An imaginatively converted boathouse in a tranquil and secluded lakeside location on a privately owned, inland Norfolk estate. The dreamy location makes it a popular choice for honeymooners, but also perfect for a family with two children or a baby (although proximity to the lake means careful policing is essential). Interiors are beautifully furnished and snug, with underfloor heating and a wood-burning stove for chilly evenings. The main room contains a discrete kitchen, dining table and sofas clustered around a powerful wood burner. 

Three nights from £625; sleeps up to four (

The Boathouse, Norfolk

The main room contains a discrete kitchen, dining table and sofas

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Quay View Granary, Blakeney

Superbly positioned by the quay in one of North Norfolk’s prettiest seaside villages, this beautifully converted barn is close to good local shops and pubs, and next to the coastal footpath. The vantage point from the sitting room window takes in the boats moored along the tidal creek, in front of the Blakeney Hotel, and sweeps across the unspoilt saltmarshes. Bedrooms (sleeps up to six) are tucked back and therefore shielded from the high season traffic that this honeypot village attracts. 

Three nights from £595; sleeps up to six (

Quay View Granary, Blakeney

Quay View Granary is perfect for a family holiday and well-situated for exploring the best that this region has to offer

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Cranmer Cottages, Fakenham

Families wanting to explore the north Norfolk coast will find plenty of space at this eco-friendly former dairy farm. The barns have been converted into nine contemporary cottages that are self-catered but offer guests luxuries like caterers and babysitters. The heated pool, games room and tennis courts are highlights, but with a location just outside the market town of Fakenham and short drive to the wild golden dunes at Holkham beach and attractive Wells-next-the-Sea, there’s plenty to do in the area. The property can sleep up to 12 people depending on room configurations and children staying.

Three nights from £1,544; sleeps up to 12 (

Cranmer Cottages, Norfolk

Local suppliers and supermarkets can deliver picnic hampers, cooked meals and shopping to Cranmer Cottages

Contributions by Sophie Butler & Natalie Paris

Rates above are guide prices for minimum stays in low season, please note that packages can differ across cottages. Owing to the current coronavirus pandemic, these rates may change. Please check the properties’ websites for further information on what’s included. 

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