Stamford Pride

A Winter Break with Barefoot Retreats

This month we’re enjoying one of Barefoot Retreats’ luxury self-catering properties in North Norfolk, and a rare opportunity to bring the whole family together…

It’s the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Having something lovely to look forward to makes the darker nights and the chilly temperatures much more bearable. Our suggestion is a short break in North Norfolk, like the one we enjoyed a month or two ago, courtesy of luxury self-catering accommodation provider Barefoot Retreats.

The company was founded in 2014 and as it approaches its 10th anniversary, we’re delighted to report that it has grown into a carefully-curated portfolio of over 120 luxury self-catering properties, stretching right along the coast from Snettisham, to Wells-Next-The-Sea, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is fast becoming the most sought-after holiday destination in the UK.

The beauty of a Barefoot Retreats break is that each of the properties in the company’s portfolio are privately-owned and lovingly styled, each has its own character and each one is really comfortable, with everything you need to enjoy your short break in Norfolk.

Recently, we were invited to spend a weekend enjoying one of the company’s newest additions to its portfolio, Mulberry Cottage, in the village of Thornham. Ideal for a getaway with family or friends, the property has five bedrooms and sleeps 12 people, making it an ideal venue for a weekend spent with our immediate family – two older teenage boys, plus our two grown-up daughters.

We couldn’t possibly leave our mini-dachshund Nellie behind – no family break would be complete without her, after all – but fortunately, there was no need to as Mulberry Cottage is one of many dog-friendly properties in the company’s portfolio.

Having stayed in a Barefoot Retreats property before, it came as no surprise that the place was spotlessly clean with very modern furnishings and bed linens.

Nor was there any doubt that the house would have plenty of character, since the entire Barefoot Retreats portfolio comprises solely of properties with exceptional character from cosy cottages for couples, to big boltholes for entire families, plus some unusual additions with lots of character; a converted railway carriage or a beautifully restored Old Rectory in Stanhoe for example.

There’s a lovely selection of properties, from traditional barns and cottages with pebbled fronts, to really modern buildings with light timbers and vast bifold doors to make the most of the coastal views and natural light – there’s a very good choice of properties right on the coast, too. One of the nicest aspects of a Barefoot Retreat break is the ability to get away without going too far, and Mulberry Cottage was no exception. After driving just an hour we arrived at the house and settled in.

Waiting for us in the kitchen was a beautiful welcome hamper with some very special treats, from local biscuits and bread, to a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy later. Tea, coffee and milk were all present, correct and much appreciated, so after exploring the property and after a friendly squabble over who gets which bedroom, we convened in the living room to enjoy a pot of tea.

Mulberry Cottage is unique and very well-thought out in terms of its layout. It’s an upside-down house, with a large open plan living kitchen, dining room and living room on the first floor. Its elevation ensures lots of light and panoramic views not least over a very large garden.

Among Barefoot Retreats’ selling points is the company’s knowledge of the area and its ability to create tailored stays and recommendations for guests. Over the years, the team has of course recommended restaurants and days out, but also facilitated personal chefs, arranged picnics, organised the delivery of birthday cakes, provided babysitting services a visit from beauty therapists, e-bike hire, marriage proposals, boat trips and  helicopter rides… the list is long, and the service bespoke. 

Likewise, there’s plenty to do in the area, but this, we intended, would be a slowcation,  just spending time as a family and enjoying a rare chance to all be in the same room together… and with the open plan nature of the first floor, that’s exactly what the house enabled. Cooking ensued, wine flowed, there were a few friendly games of table tennis and later, we lit the large wood-burning stove…  the logs were (of course) ready and waiting.

After an exceptionally comfortable night’s sleep and some bacon butties in the morning, we ventured out (five bathrooms; useful for a large group all getting ready simultaneously) for a wander around Wells-next-the-Sea, followed by the tradition of crabbing off the side of Wells’ quay, as the kids used to enjoy when they were much younger, followed by some fish ‘n’ chips.

That afternoon, after a long walk along the seafront, Nellie came to the conclusion that short legs and long walks are sometimes incompatible with one another, so we stopped for a hot chocolate at the café.

Upon returning to Mulberry Cottage, and  freshening up for an evening meal at the local pub, we stumbled back ready for a nightcap by the fire and another good night’s sleep thanks to a day with ample fresh air and exercise.

The beauty of a Barefoot Retreat is its ability to bring people together. Get away, without going too far; spend time doing lots or doing very little, and enjoy one of the most underrated parts of Britain.

With our older children now living and working away, co-ordinating our diaries has  become increasingly tricky, so to enjoy a weekend away, plus some quality time as a family, was a really lovely experience.

And of course, as a venue, Mulberry Cottage really was the perfect backdrop; spacious, comfortable, beautifully  furnished, with a warm and cosy feel which the whole family appreciated.

Barefoot Retreats has over 120 luxury self-catering properties around Norfolk. Mulberry Cottage in Thornham, four nights from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th January example price £1,745 for up to 12 guests. For more properties, for video tours of each one and for tailored pricing, see or call 01485 512245.