An Inspector Calls… The Angel in Bury St Edmunds has undergone a major refurbishment and the decor is ‘busy’
- The Angel in Bury St Edmunds was built back in 1778 in the centre of town
- Virginia creeper has taken hold of the Georgian brickwork so it’s ‘easy on the eye’
- Recently, it underwent a major refurbishment, mainly to the ground floor
Charles Dickens stayed at The Angel in Bury St Edmunds on three occasions — in 1835, 1859 and 1861 — before visiting the nearby Assembly Rooms (now The Athenaeum), and the hotel is mentioned in the author’s The Pickwick Papers.
It was built in 1778 (the cellars date back to the 13th century) and occupies a dominant position in the centre of town, holding its own opposite the cathedral and the magnificent archway leading to the Abbey Gardens.
Virginia creeper has been allowed to take hold of the façade, which might not be great for the Georgian brickwork, but is easy on the eye. ‘Lots of people have wanted to buy the hotel, but it’s still owned by the Gough family,’ says a cheery member of staff.
The Goughs acquired it back in 1973 and, recently, it underwent a major refurbishment, mainly to the ground floor, where, on walking through the grand, raised front door, the glintzy bar is on the right and the restaurant on the left.
Everything is busy, busy: one wall of the restaurant is covered in pictures and pieces of paper hang from the ceiling as an artistic expression of something or other. Noise bounces off the bare brick walls and wooden floors, but there are plenty of quieter areas in which to sit.
Our fourth-floor room looks towards the cathedral — construction began in 1503 and was completed 50 years later — and is decoratively all over the place: there’s a faux-Rococo white bed, a gold telephone, an orange lamp, orange plastic chairs, flouncy pillows, some lilac wallpaper.
If the room were a person, it would have a terrible identity problem.
The best thing is the bathroom — clearly new — which has a huge, free-standing copper bath, similar to the one the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are said to have ordered for Frogmore Cottage.
We brave the restaurant, almost shouting by way of conversation.
My chicken liver parfait tastes powdery, but our rib-eye steaks are delicious. The service is slow, presumably due to the sheer weight of traffic.
There’s pay-and-display parking outside in the public square, but, if you’re a guest at the The Angel, you just hand over the keys and they sort it for you.
It’s a generous touch — not least because it gives us an hour’s free parking in the morning to enjoy this historic, special city.
The Angel Hotel, Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1LT.
B&B doubles are from £120. For more information call 01284 714000 or visit theangel.co.uk.