2 nights at Cley Windmill – A review

Well, places to stay don’t come much more unique than the absolutely wonderful Cley Windmill. If you’re looking for a completely different thing to do when visiting the UK, then why not choose to stay in a windmill?

Cley (pronounced cly like fly, not clay like way) Windmill is a grade II listed building built in the 1790s. Until 1921, it was a working mill and then it has passed to various families including the Blount/Blunt family from the 1930s until 2000s. Interestingly, you may have heard of James Blunt (a singer famed for his ‘you’re beautifullll’ warbles) – his father owned the mill, and he spent a lot of time as a child. It’s now a beautiful B&B and wedding venue, owned by the Bush family.


Location

Cley windmill lies in the east of England, in the county of Norfolk. It’s right on the coast, close to some of England’s most beautiful sandy beaches. This area of England is well off the tourist trail, so it really is perfect to escape the crowds.

To get to Cley, you will need a car as there isn’t easy public transport access to the windmill or the areas surrounding it. To drive directly from London takes around 3hrs, from Birmingham around 3 hrs, and from Cambridge around 2hrs. The nearest main railway station is Norwich, which you could arrive at to avoid long drives (or driving in London if you’re visiting), and then hire a car from there for the 45 minute drive to the coast.

The windmill has a decent sized car park, and the windmill is walking distance to Cley village, meaning access to shops, a good pub and a nice village store. The windmill also sits right on a river so if you’re so inclined (unlike me), you could kayak or canoe down the river exploring the Norfolk marshes.


Accommodation

Well, the accommodation was something special. There are multiple rooms in the windmill across 5 floors. Starting with the common areas – there is a balcony which is perfect to sit on with drinks before dinner or to watch the sunset. There’s also two lovely gardens, complete with comfy chairs, tables and views out across the Norfolk marshes to watch the boats go by.

Inside the windmill, there is a cosy communal dining/sitting room. It has a gorgeous fire, which is lovely to sit beside of an evening, or reading a book. There’s also a nice reception area with plenty of chairs to browse all the guidebooks of things to do near the windmill (more on that later!).

As for the rooms, they are stunning. We had a comfy 4 poster bed, a nice sofa area, modern and clean bathroom and the TV was smart-enabled so we were able to watch Netflix, iPlayer etc easily.

Our lovely bed

Service

It’s so much harder to comment on service in COVID times as restrictions means things don’t run as normal. That said, the windmil staff went out of their way to accommodate us. Latest check-in is at 8pm, but they accommodated our slightly later than planned due to traffic arrival. Even more nicely, they gave us some tasty chocolates and left a card in our room to wish us a nice stay.

Breakfast is served between 8.30-10am, either in the room, in the garden or in the dining room. On our first day, we had to be out for 8am and the staff came in early to provide us with home cooked sausage sandwiches before we had to leave which was truly lovely of them. On the second morning, we were served the most incredible breakfast of omelette, porridge, toast, a full English etc. It was so delicious that we didn’t want to stop eating.

Delicious breakfast

Normally, the windmill would also serve dinner, but due to COVID restrictions on space couldn’t accommodate this while we were staying. It really doesn’t matter though as there is a pub within walking distance (The George and Dragon) which serves delicious food and wine.


Things to do nearby

One of the best things about the windmill is all the incredible things to see and do nearby. Of course there is Cley itself, right on the sea, but there are multiple other fun options to explore.

A. Wells-next-the-sea

A lovely coastal town with one of the best beaches in England, Wells is home to the famous beach huts, a nice mini railway and traditional England crabbing spots. It’s a great place to spend half a day exploring.

B. Holkham Hall and beach

Just down the road is the wonderful Holkham Hall and its amazing sandy beach. The grounds are huge and home to a stunning walled garden, as well as multiple good walks to stretch the legs and get some fresh air.

C. Blickling Hall

Blickling Hall, the birth place of Anne Boleyn, is a special estate. The hall itself is picturesque and full of history, there’s a wonderful pub on site and there is a unique escape room in the church. The perfect day trip option!

D. Burnham Market

Burnham Market is one of the nicest market towns in England, with some incredible restaurants (if you want a traditional Sunday roast, then Number 29 is my favourite), pretty shops and cute cottages.

E. Blakeney Point

If you like animals or boat trips (or both) then Blakeney point is perfect – it’s where you can see the famous Norfolk seals in huge concentration on a nice hour long boat ride out to enjoy them. Again, a good choice for a half day trip.

The cute seals of Blakeney Point

You can read more about each of these locations in my 2 day north Norfolk itinerary post HERE (post coming soon), and about Blickling Hall in depth HERE (post coming soon).


And that’s my whistle stop tour of a stay in a windmill! It really was such a wonderful stay and I’m so grateful to be discovering wonderful places like this around the UK this year. What do you think? Would you like to visit on a trip to England? Stay safe and happy travelling everyone!

29 Comments

  1. Lovely Hannah! I always like investigating windmills so staying in one would be just my sort of thing. It’s brilliant that Cley Windmill also offers breakfast and dinner in more normal times. Definitely somewhere to think about going as we are unfamiliar with the area. Marion

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes it’s really special to stay in one and quite exciting! Ahhh yes Norfolk and Suffolk are a wonderful part of the country. I’m lucky to live so close to be able to visit on weekend breaks, but you could easily do a week in East Anglia for a staycation and fill it with lots of amazing things. Thanks for reading and have a good day πŸ™‚

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  2. I had no idea that James Blunt lived in that windmill; how cool it must’ve been to have stayed in a place that a celebrity did as well! The surroundings itself are fascinating, too, especially giving rise also to Anne Boleyn; this small area certainly does not hold back from producing well-known people! Wells-next-the-sea and Blickling Hall are stunners, and I’m glad you got to see so much history and nature, especially in the middle of seemingly nowhere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point – clearly north Norfolk is good for producing famous people!! Ahh glad you like the look of the area – you’re right, it’s in the middle of nowhere, right in the East of England, but there is sooo much to do in the region that visiting is well worth it (and it’s much, much less crowded than London and any other major cities). Thanks for reading and have a great day πŸ™‚

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  3. How fortunate for you to be able to stay in such a unique accommodation. Great photos and ideas for exploring the area. I remember staying in a YHA in a water mill in Winchester many years ago which was very atmospheric but this looks even better. Cheers, Mark

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you like the look of the windmill – though the watermill also sounds interesting! North Norfolk is a great area to explore for sure, lots to do πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for reading Mark, have a nice evening.

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  4. There is something rather wonderful about a windmill. Gazing down on us with their circular towers, some with their sails intact, inviting us to climb and admire the view. It is no wonder that these elegant towers are becoming increasingly popular for those looking for a holiday with a difference! Due to all your wonderful posts, Norfolk is now on my travel wish list. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day πŸ™‚ Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely – there’s something very romantic and fun about them, it’s like a little adventure πŸ™‚ Ahh I’m so glad you like the look of Norfolk, it really is a great county and well worth a visit – there’s loads to do and more posts on the way! Thanks for reading and have a lovely evening πŸ™‚ xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like a delightful B&B Windmill with marvelous architecture and lovely old-world interior design. Both Holkham & Blinkling Halls appear wonderful, as does that very broad beach – was the photograph taken at low tide? Thanks for sharing your travel adventures, dear Hannah & have a splendid week ahead 😊🌹

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