Best luxury and boutique hotels in Essex

Hotels, B&Bs, country houses, inns

One of the largest counties of England, this has had to endure many ‘Essex’ jokes over the years, and many people dismiss it as commuter country. But it is full of history, and it makes a good base to explore Constable country (he was born near here). Dedham Vale, in the Stour valley on the Suffolk border, was made famous by his paintings and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. You can visit the site of Flatford Mill and see some of his work in Bridge Cottage. Dedham has a lovely old church.

The Good Hotel Guide has some hotels set right in Constable scenery plus others in coastal and village locations. Colchester, Britain’s oldest town (it was the Romans’ first capital in England) has associations with Boudicca, and a Norman castle. Twelve miles away is St Osyth Priory on the Tendring Peninsula: an attractive collection of old buildings, it houses paintings from Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.

Coggeshall is a lovely village with many  16th- and 17th-century houses  and a square dominated by a Victorian clocktower. Thaxted, where Gustav Holst once lived, has a fine half-timbered guildhall. Saffron Walden, too,  has many fine old buildings including a restored windmill.  Nearby Audley End, a grand Jacobean mansion once owned by Charles II, stands in magnificent grounds designed by Capability Brown. Harwich, an ancient port, is now best known  now as a ferry port but its old town is worth exploring. Essex’s  seaside resorts include  Southend-on-Sea , Clacton-on-Sea, Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze.

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Hotels in Essex

  • The Pier at Harwich, HARWICH, Essex

    Sea-lovers and marine history buffs will be drawn to Paul Milsom’s Victorian quayside hotel/restaurant overlooking the Stour and Orwell estuaries and Old Harwich’s historic Ha’Penny Pier; the

  • The Mistley Thorn, MISTLEY, Essex

    A good base for exploring Constable country, this congenial restaurant-with-rooms is in a former 18th-century coaching inn, in a historic coastal village on the River Stour. It is run by

  • Dedham Hall & Fountain House Restaurant, DEDHAM, Essex

    The guest lounge at Jim and Wendy Sarton’s 15th-century manor house in deepest Constable country is hung with works by artists who have attended residential painting courses here. It is an informal,

  • The Sun Inn, DEDHAM, Essex

    In the Dedham Vale, this ‘friendly’ restaurant-with-rooms occupies a 15th-century building restored by owner Piers Baker. Visitors this year enjoyed the hotel’s location