Housed in an imposing Grade II building in the centre of the pretty south Norfolk town of Harleston, The Old Post Office is so named because it was once the post office. However, it could have equally been named The Old Bank, as when it was originally built in 1790, it was the Gurney Bank. It’s history is fascinating, and many original architectural features remain or have been recently restored.
The Old Post Office is not your usual Guest House.
Step inside and enter a world of luxury and loveliness, carefully curated by congenial Host and Owner Claire, who has both impeccable taste and a critical eye for detail.
Inside decor includes an ornate chandelier from the Savoy, which hangs in first the room to your right. In the room to your left – more a salon really, is an Art Deco chaise that once belonged to designer Tom Ford, a huge mirror that almost takes up one wall, cocktail-making paraphernalia and a 1920s record player. Imagine if David Bowie did the 1920s and you might get close.
An ornate, full height, spiral staircase leads to three boutique guest bedrooms on the first floor, each individually styled. The Waveney Room (named after the Old Post Office’s situation in the heart of the Waveney Valley) features quadruple king size bunk beds with a ‘proper’ staircase to access the top bunk. The room sleeps 8 and has two en-suite shower rooms. Perfect for grown-up sleepovers.
The Shakespeare Room is inspired by the Oscar-winning film Shakespeare in Love, which was partly filmed in Norfolk. All around (and we mean everywhere) are antiques, original works of art and fabulous touches installed by Claire.
We stayed in the Gurney Room. Once the Bank Manager’s office, this large room has a subtle Middle Eastern influence (Claire is part Lebanese), and features a cast iron bath. Textures galore and precious metal tones give it an air of absolute opulence.
Also on the first floor is the Moroccan Natural Hammam Spa. Once the bank vault, Claire’s incredible imagination has transformed the space to create a luxurious spa, complete with aromatherapy scents, chromatherapy lighting which can be altered to suit your mood, and bluetooth speakers. A Hammam Spa Kit is available, that includes Organic Rhassoul clay, black soap, kessa glove and argan oil. We enjoyed a thoroughly relaxing 45-odd minutes, after which we were treated to a fabulous back massage by in-house husband and wife therapists Julie and Richard. If that doesn’t de-stress and relax you, frankly, nothing will. We felt utterly pampered and so relaxed I could barely string a sentence together.
We can’t possibly cover here all the other amazing facets of this very special place in Norfolk, but we must talk about the Afternoon Tea. Created by Karen (her Mum was housekeeper to the Gurneys in the 1960s), we enjoyed delicate finger sandwiches, homemade scones with dangerous amounts of clotted cream and the jammiest strawberry jam, sausage rolls, macarons, seasonal homemade cake (blueberry lemon drizzle on this occasion). It was all washed down with Great British Tea Party loose leaf tea (another of Claire’s many, MANY side-hustles – she knows a thing or two about tea).
If we had time we’d talk about the incredible and definitely-not-your-B&B-norm breakfast, the wine tasting tours, the stories Claire can tell you about the building, it’s history and its contents, the private chef, the Arabian Nights experience… you get the idea.
The Old Post Office is less a guest house and more an experience. Ideal for romantic jaunts away, girls getaways or just some time off the grid (wonderfully, while the rooms all feature inset bluetooth speakers, there’s not a tele in sight.) Step through the door into Claire’s world… And what a simply wonderful world it is.
(Btw – Children under 12 and pets are not accepted at The Old Post Office.)
The Old Post Office
3 Old Market Place,