Quick Trips: Weekend Getaways in the English Countryside

For those looking to flee the city, the question becomes which way to go: north, south, east, or west? Here, the best places to spend a long weekend outside London, and beyond.

Courtesy Gunton Arms
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When London-based art dealer Ivor Braka bought the Gunton Arms (rooms from $150; Cromer Rd., Thorpe Market; 44-12/6383-2010; theguntonarms.co.uk) in 2009, he saw more than a tired hotel a three-hour’s train ride northeast of London. (Braka had already been at work restoring the Gunton Hall country estate’s 1,000-acre deer park, sold off piecemeal after World War II.) After a meticulous renovation that used reclaimed materials from other century-old buildings, the Gunton Arms—part pub, part restaurant, part boutique hotel—opened in 2011. Modern and contemporary art is a key fixture, with works by Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Rene Magritte, and Paula Rego, dotting the property, and the interiors were done by Robert Kime (previous clients include The Prince of Wales). Eight bedrooms with vibrantly patterned wallpaper and serene marble bathrooms await upstairs. The area has the highest concentration of medieval churches in the world (with nearly 700) and miles of uninterrupted views at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, an excellent spot for bird sightings. Tour the 18th-century interiors of Houghton Hall, once the estate of Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and visit Burnham Market, home to 30 independent shops and galleries, and Holt, a Georgian-styled town rebuilt in 1708 after a fire, for shops, cafes, and antique markets.