So, I’m not sure where I was when the memo went round about the Sea Marge Hotel opening in 1996, but I had never heard of it until recently.
Somewhat shockingly, I had managed to never hear of an Arts and Crafts country house, serving fine lunches on the north Norfolk coast. How did that happen?!
To rectify the situation, The Chap and I very quickly made tracks to Overstrand to investigate all they had to offer.
Arts & Crafts heaven
It’s a stunning building – we knew exactly which building the hotel was when we drove up the street. It’s like nothing else in the area – or possibly the county. All timbers, gables and leaded windows, it’s a mixture of architectural styles.
Built in 1908 as a country by American Sir Edgar Speyer, the building has something of a history. For instance, it was the first building in the area to have a telephone line, so Sir Winston Churchill used to pop by when he was in the neighbourhood to call London.
Speyer himself was of German descent and was accused of being a spy and eventually left Britain. Upon his death the house became a hotel, then an old people’s home, before reverting to hotel status in 1996. Today, the interior has been restored to some of its former glory, filled with beautiful furniture and carvings.
We took a seat in the Clement Scott Bar for lunch and spent ages admiring the mock-Gothic atmosphere, with dark-wood ceiling, carved fireplace and panelling. The views out over the sea were stunning too. I could imagine being holed up there on a stormy afternoon watching the sea.
Seafood and eat it
The menu’s surprisingly extensive, with seafood, burgers and plenty of nibbling options.
Because we were at the coast, I picked the Seafood Platter for One and I must say it was all incredibly good. With smoked mackerel pate, prawn cocktail, an oyster, prawns, smoked salmon and whitebait, I was absolutely stuffed by the time I’d finished. It was all really fresh and tasty. The chunky pate seemed to be homemade and the whitebait really crispy. For £15.95, it was incredible value.
The Chap had fish and chips, which I was a little bit envious of (even though I couldn’t possibly have eaten anything else). The fish of the day was pollock and it was huge, with fresh tartare sauce and generous portion of piping hot chips. It seemed very popular, because most other people in the bar seemed to be eating it too.
Before I wind the blog up, I must also say that the waiting staff were all wonderful. They were chatty, friendly and happy to fill us in on the history of the building, even though I’m sure they’ve probably said it all before.
I’m looking forward to the weather warming up, when I can stop by for a drink on the lawn after a long walk on the beach. Roll on summer!