012The Most Welcoming Fire On A Cold Day
The Lifeboat Inn Average rate: 4.0

Ship Lane, Thornham, Norfolk PE36 6LT
01485 512236

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The Lifeboat is a 16th-century smugglers' inn on the north Norfolk coast, surrounded by sand dunes and pines. It is a welcoming place all year round. In summer its blossoming vine-covered conservatory and walled garden are quite exquisite places to sit and eat, but it is in winter that it is at its most beguiling. There is no better wintry experience than working up an appetite with a bracing walk on Thornham beach, and then entering the hall through the front door to be greeted by the snapping, pungent warmth of The Lifeboat's huge roaring fire. Perch on the padded fender and huddle round the dog-grate to thaw out, then move on to the wooden benches in the Smugglers Bar for an enormous bowl of piping-hot mussels, followed by a portion of chocolate and Guinness sponge. The bar feels almost unchanged since the days of the smugglers. The low ceilings are hung with paraffin lamps, and patrons are still encouraged to enjoy a game of 'Pennies', outlawed by George III in the late 1700s. For those wishing to retire and sleep off the effect of the hot rum toddies, or first-class local ales, bed and breakfast is available. The bedrooms are basic but comfortable, and the morning fry-ups include deliciously salty kippers, smoked haddock and poached eggs. The fine restaurant attracts patrons from many a mile away, but somehow the establishment retains a distinctive atmosphere of the kind of 'local' that every village wishes it had.

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