The Land Girls & Apple Orchards of the Stoke by Nayland Hotel
I’m sitting on a spacious decked terrace of a luxurious country lodge at Stoke by Nayland Hotel looking out over a landscape of undulating woodland, lakes and apple orchards. Beauty in its natural state as autumn paints its colour palette. Peaceful, relaxing and tranquil.
The land before me has history ingrained in its soil. Buried over the years, it was here that the Land Girls toiled and laboured during World War 11 to serve and provide for their country. My country lodge sits on this significant Women’s Land Army Site in Leavenheath. A stone’s throw away is the original water tower which has been affectionately preserved. Inside is a small museum, a tribute to the seventy Women’s Land Army girls who lived here during the war and even an invitation for visitors to donate related memorabilia to add to the collection. History in the making.
Today the land accommodates the Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Spa, Lodges and Golf Club. It is owned by the Peake family who has farmed the area since the war and still produces over 20 varieties of apples as well as cherries, soft fruit and asparagus which all feature in the hotel’s restaurant menus and Pippin shop in season. Having been passionate about conservation and the environment throughout its 80 years of farming here, the family cherishes its history as it crosses generations and applies sustainable green practises as a key custodian of the countryside. Over the last six years the family has invested around £5 million in the installation of renewable energy sources on its Boxford Suffolk Farms and at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, including an AD plant, biomass boilers and solar panels.
The most recent additions to the business are the five contemporary eco-lodges set away from the main hotel. They have been designed with touches from the 1940’s. Framed and ornamenting rooms are Land Girl posters reciting sentimental quotes, “The Battle for Bread”, and famed war-time lyrics, “We’ll meet again”. Eclectic pieces of post-war Britain add a hint of glamour of the time in the form of the Hollywood film spotlight, huge mirrors and glass chandeliers. Crispin, Cox – each lodge is named after an English apple variety, championing the family businesses in fruit farming and freshly pressed juices – they were the original creators of Copella apple juice. The lodges come with a friendly chauffeur service to and from the main hotel, a short drive or alternatively, a refreshing woodland stroll, skirting the golf courses. Lodge guests also enjoy complimentary use of the leisure facilities of the hotel.
The hotel offers 80 contemporary rooms and suites, a lounge and a lively sports bar, popular with golfers. The AA Two Rosette Lakes Restaurant offers fine dining in the form of an attractive, varied menu of à la carte dishes artistically presented. And for entertainment don’t miss Fleece Jazz. Every Friday recognised artists perform smooth sax and traditional sounds attracting an audience of guest and local enthusiasts.
And to burn off the calories, there are two championship golf courses and a very spacious Technogym gymnasium. The Peake Spa offers a Rasul and Hammam, an indoor pool, sauna and steam room. There is also a good selection of treatments including therapeutic organic Neom massages which focus on the four key areas of wellbeing; happiness, energising, de-stressing and sleep. These embrace a combination of shiatsu and thai massage styles as well as trigger point touch and reflexology techniques. The Neom Happiness treatment starts with a mindful meditation then moves to a body exfoliation overlaid with a multi-style massage using a blend of organic oils. The result – a blissful sense of calm contentedness.
The hotel is situated within the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Beauty in the heart of Constable Country, near Gainsborough’s birthplace in Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds and Britain’s oldest recorded town, Colchester. Nayland is on the banks of the River Stour and was one of Suffolk’s wool towns in the late middle ages, decorated with Tudor buildings encircling a quaint flint church.
The Land Girls dug for victory and fed the country in difficult times, Stoke by Nayland has built on this success and cherished the essence of preserving history with its award winning green sustainable practises, championship golf courses, country lodges and footpaths for guests to tread the natural beauty of the land today in its organic form – peaceful, relaxing and tranquil.
To book, call Stoke by Nayland Hotel on 01206 262836; www.stokebynayland.com. B&B starts from £90 per night based on two sharing an executive single/cosy double room.
The price for a minimum two-night stay in a one-bedroom penthouse lodge is from £350 for 2 to 4 guests (with sofa bed), self-catering. The lodges are proving popular as an exclusive venue for celebrations, a hideaway for celebrities and a place to just be for couples to admire the peaceful landscape. One-bedroom and two-bedroom lodges have additional sofa beds, comfortably increasing guest capacity.
Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf, Spa & Lodges is set in the heart of the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on the Suffolk – Essex border.
The hotel and lodges have won several green awards for self-sustainable systems through investing in renewable sources of energy and providing their own power.
Environmental Awards and Standards
- Winner of the international 2019 Best Biogas Plant Award at the AD & Biogas Awards
- Highly commended for the 2019 Most Circular City Award for the innovative integration of its energy systems at the AD & Biogas Awards
- Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf, Spa & Lodges – Winner of the Suffolk County Council Creating the Greenest County “Sustainable Tourism Award 2016”
- Winner of the BALE award for Best Green Enterprise 2015
With sustainable tourism a key issue, Director, Tamara Unwin, underlines the company’s green credentials, “We believe that our commitment to maximizing environmentally-friendly resources is vital and the combination of this with our strong drive for innovation all helps to secure a long-term sustainable growth for future generations. It also helps to secure the supply of home-grown produce, reducing the need for imports in these uncertain times.”