No sooner had The Harper opened last year, it had to close before a guest had even set foot inside thanks to the pandemic. Now it’s raring to cement north Norfolk’s place as home to “one of the UK’s most distinctive new boutique hotels”.
It’s been a long pandemic for most in the hospitality industry, and the Harper in Norfolk has been at the sharpest end of it. After initially slating its opening for April 2020 – with a tantalizing trail on social media – the team regrouped and was finally able to open on 17 May this year, along with the rest of the UK’s hotels.
Growing up in Rutland – one of the most land-locked counties in the UK – and now living in Cambridgeshire, the north Norfolk coast has always been my go-to happy holiday spot. And when I heard about The Harper I was particularly excited. As idyllic as the area is, it’s not known for its boutique, design-led, foodie hotels – or “laid back luxury”. As owner Sam Cutmore-Scott describes it: “Where land meets sea, so shall quality meet informality”.
The property is housed inside an old glass-blowing factory in the picturesque village of Langham, near popular Holt, just a short drive from the area’s beautiful sweeping beaches such as Holkham, and the coastal village of Blakeney, where you can catch a boat to see the seals. The Harper has a couple of bikes available for exploring the area, too.
Homage is paid to the building’s heritage with some stunning stained glass windows, “rugged, workshop chic interiors” and “locally-crafted artisanal glass features”. What struck me upon entering though, after a long lockdown featuring a significant lack of glamour, were the bright, velvet chairs in the cocktail bar, the twinkling lights adorning the courtyard and the bold prints on the walls bearing such slogans as “It was all a dream” (which felt apt somehow after the year we’ve all had).