By Ferne Arfin 22 June 2019
Hotel Review: The Brudenell in Aldeburgh
The Brudenell, at the southern end of Aldeburgh Beach in Suffolk, is a venerable landmark of this seaside village that has been kindly treated by recent owners. Its 44 rooms have ocean or river and countryside views and a modest, breezy kind of class that is comfortable, stylish and informal.
The endless sea
The 4-star Brudenell in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk Heritage Coast began its life as an early 19th century private home (built by Newson Garrett, the entrepreneur who also built Snape Maltings). By 1868 it was already taking in paying guests. And, no wonder – its views – both sea and river, are unbeatable. The hotel faces east across the North Sea from high above the town’s steep, shingle beach. Rooms on the opposite side face the River Alde, in summer a safe haven for sailboats and seabirds.
If, like me, you are fond of the changing moods of the sea, you will love the ocean view rooms with their pure views of shingle, sea and sky. When I arrived, we were suffering from a rare smog of red Saharan sand and European pollution. The North Sea was still and steely, the horizon almost invisible. Next morning, even through the smog, the sun spread a band of gold on the water.
Aldeburgh is a very small town with a incredibly photogenic (and Instagrammable) beach and seafront and you cannot be better placed to appreciate it than at the Brudenell.
Views of the Aldeburgh seafront near the Brudenell
Most of the rooms are relatively spacious. The only exceptions are the two single rooms, which are compact – but as offering single rooms is unusual these days, their size is no cause for complaint. My room on the third floor (pictured here) was ample, with a big bay window and a sofa facing it to take in the view.
The room can accommodate a family and the sofa is, conveniently, a sofa bed. There were also two comfortable chairs, a dressing table and a cabinet where the tea and coffee making things were stowed. The decor reflected the colors pouring in through the windows – creams and ocean blues – and here and there ceramics and seaside sculptures picked out the theme.
As older hotels are often not that generous with the electric supply, it was nice to find plenty of power points for recharging all my kit – while using the hairdryer and the kettle too. Other mod cons included free Wi-Fi (that worked), flat screen television, an iron and ironing board, hairdryer and comfy, soft bathrobes. The bathroom had a generous sized bath and a walk in shower stall. Some of the smaller rooms have a shower over the bath. A nice selection of Green & Spring toiletries was provided.
The room was immaculate, everything worked as it should and the bed was very comfortable. Of course, no matter how lovely, nothing is ever perfect, so I had a couple of small quibbles:
- The door to my room had no chain or extra security feature inside. The hotel assures me that the “do not disturb” signs they provide “prevent intruders and give the guests privacy”. But my own experience elsewhere tells me this is not always sufficient. More than once (at other hotels), cleaners or maids offering turn-down service have barged in on me even when I had put up a do not disturb sign. I appreciate a chain or inside slide lock as an extra bit of protection from over enthusiastic staff.
- The odd little button for flushing the toilet was very hard to press. Once, I had to use the handle of my hairbrush because I simply could not make it work. I don’t know if this was a design flaw or just a problem with that particular room, but as I have run across that problem with that style of sanitary ware before, I suspect the problem is the design. Still, perhaps I am just a bit of a wuss (or my manicured nails were too long at the time) because the hotel assured me no other guests have complained of that problem.
- The bathroom mirror was contained in a kind of shadow box which made it a bit hard to get close enough to put on makeup. Apparently this particular design is featured in only two rooms so you may not come across it. On the other hand the combination of cold blue North Sea light and fluorescent lights around the mirror was enough to make a woman of a certain age want to book a plastic surgeon immediately – very unflattering. If you’re over 35, do your makeup at the bedroom dressing table.
The bottom line
The Brudenell is surprisingly well priced for what it offers in Aldeburgh, a town not known for bargains. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, staff very accommodating
and the restaurant, when I originally visited in 2014, relaxed and accomplished. Since then a new chef has taken over and created a new menu which I have not sampled but a quick review of the current menus suggests sophistication at moderate prices. There is a Seafood & Grill restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, a Lounge offering lighter meals throughout the day and a comprehensive breakfast menu. In good weather, meals can be served on a spacious terrace with glorious sea views.
The hotel is in a quiet part of town, away from the fishermen’s huts and the raucous gulls that hang out around them. But if you are looking for total peace and quiet try to avoid the rooms above the beach side terrace (a shame though because you’ be missing out on the best views).
- Where: The Brudenell Hotel, The Parade, Aldeburgh, Suffolk IP15 5BU
- Contact: +44 (0)1728 452 071
- Restaurant: Moderate by British standards, pretty airy setting with sea views
- Visit their website