REVIEWED: Constable Lodges, Suffolk

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By now, you lot are probably bored to tears with reading about my Crohn’s diagnosis and my recovery from the hospital story. But the reason I need to mention them is for context. Knowing I was going to be in there over Christmas and New Year, I needed to pretty much buy my Mum stuff that could be found online. I got her a Dyson Airwrap and some Dr. Martens, but considering the woman came up to the hospital every day for three months, did shopping for me, showered me, spoke to the Doctors when my anxiety couldn’t handle it, and genuinely got me through the experience, I decided she needed a little relaxing break as well. 

This wasn’t an entirely selfless buy. The great thing about looking for a nice little UK weekend away is the fact that I knew she would, of course, take me if I were the one paying (and yes, to any of my friends reading this that I have ever got a spa weekend for on your birthday, 99% of the reason IS that I get to go to a spa as well. Sue me, I’m selfish). In “real life” I am always working and rushing around, and I will rarely ever fully research reviews before I book myself a spa hotel or a holiday. I’ve been pretty lucky with this so far, but knowing I had all of the time in the world to browse lodges with hot tubs, I thought I would need to spend some serious time researching the best place.

It turns out, I didn’t. 

The minute I saw a picture of Constable Holiday Lodges I was absolutely in love. It was the easiest and quickest booking I have ever made. They had me at the hot tub and floor-to-ceiling windows looking at the little stream. It seemed like the perfect retreat for my Mum and me to relax after everything we had been through, so last weekend we packed up the car and drove the 1.10mins journey to East Bergholt from Essex.

Constable Holiday Lodges

The directions provided in our confirmation email were really simple to follow, and luckily the sat-nav knew where it was also. For the amount of time I spent after I had booked this pouring through the pictures of the lovely Debden Lodge we had booked, you would think that I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it in real life, but it was ten times more beautiful than it looks on the website and when we pulled up I started to feel more relaxed than I have felt in months. 

The lodge had a hot tub outside on the decking, which is handily near the front door, which works out well if you go in colder months, which we did. The lodge itself has a huge living room with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over a little stream, two bedrooms, and a modern bathroom. I did a little lodge tour on my TikTok if you want to see more, but one of my favourite things that aren’t evident in it is the heated floor, which was incredible. The lodge is self-catering, and not only is everything imaginable provided for you to cook and eat but there is also a utility room with things like a washing machine and an iron and ironing board. They also supplied logs, firelighters, and kindling for the fire in the lodge’s living room, which lasted all weekend for us. I did wonder if we would need the fire on more if the lodge got cold, but the heating was at the perfect temperature all weekend, so it wasn’t necessary to put it on, but why wouldn’t you? Chilling in the living room by the fire each evening was much needed for both of us, and it was one of those places you stay where you come back really refreshed and ready to face the world because it has been so nice. 

On to the hot tub. Now I am a BABY. I like to be warm, huns. No actually, not even warm, I am happiest when I am HOT. Whenever I go to The Philippines, I’ll take an hour and a half walks in the 40-degree heat. As you can imagine I am a hot bath person, and the inflatable hot tub we purchased a few years back simply never got hot enough for me (which didn’t matter in the end considering my cat Alfred bit it so much it was beyond puncture repair). Being February, I wasn’t expecting the hot tub at Constable Lodges to be up to my standard, but I am pleased to report the temperature was beautiful. Throughout the weekend we spent ages in there, and it was so toasty we didn’t even get that cold getting out.

Things to do

East Bergholt may be quite a tiny village, but there is plenty to do in the area that surrounds the lodges. As I am still in recovery, I cannot do a lot of walking or physical activity, so the only place we visited on the Saturday was Flatford Mill. Flatford Mill is a beautiful place on the River Stour that was made famous in paintings by John Constable The location of the mill now has a visitors centre, some tearooms, a gift shop, and a little “book nook” where you can leave a little donation and pick up a secondhand book. The main attraction, of course, is the number of beautiful walks you can take by the river. We didn’t do one of the walking routes, but we had a look around the visitor’s centre about the Constable paintings and then headed to the tearoom. If you want to learn more, you can check out my “Come with me to Flatford Mill” TikTok.

The location of Constable Lodges is also fairly close to Dedham. Although I didn’t visit Dedham on this occasion, I have been previously and it is a picaresque little village with many cute shops and some lovely pubs to have lunch in, most of which are dog-friendly! St Mary’s Church is a church that has been around since the 1400s and has also been included in works by the famous painter John Constable. It’s well worth a visit to take tea in one of the tearooms or just a stroll around a place that is probably more beautiful than where you are used to spending your day-to-day.  

Where to eat

The self-catering facilities in the lodges themselves are fantastic, but let’s face it, who wants to cook on this laid-back vibe type of weekend away? We found a couple of takeaways on Uber Eats on the Saturday, but when we tried to order from them, they all refused to deliver. If you do want a takeaway the likelihood is that you’ll have to drive to Manningtree like we did to pick something up. That being said, Manningtree has plenty of choices, and if you read the information book in the lodge (or as I always call them in places like this or hotels, “the instructions”), you’ll find suggestions of local takeaways in there too. 

We’re not really “take-away” all of the time people, and since I found out I was not, in fact, coeliac, it was a misdiagnosis, I have been obsessed with Yorkshire puddings and Sunday Roasts in general. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably already know that I have got into the habit of having a roast every Sunday recently, but either ordering it or going out for one so I don’t have to cook it. Bearing this in mind, finding The Lion Brasserie and seeing that they did a Sunday roast AND the pub was actually within walking distance was a very welcome discovery. We made our booking online, on the Sunday morning, and it couldn’t have been easier. One of the things I love about places like this is that you always get fresh, locally sourced, good-quality food. 

When we arrived we were a tad early, but the staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful. The minute we did get shown to our table, the service was impeccable. More or less instantly after being seated our drinks orders were taken. We’d both decided we were going to have the roast with the Roasted Suffolk Chicken, so we ordered this more or less straight away and were served it very promptly. The Sunday atmosphere in The Lion Brasserie is very warm and friendly, and even though it was busy, the tables were far enough apart that you can hold a conversation, with everyone else’s chatter just being slight background noise.

The chicken came wrapped in bacon, which was delicious, and it was very moist and juicy and not one bit dry, which I find to be the case sometimes for roast dinners served in busy places on a Sunday. One of the things I meant to do but forgot was to find out what potatoes they used for their roasties, and what they cooked them in. They were the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Now on to the star attraction for me, the Yorkshire pudding. It was probably one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth (behave yourselves). Crispy around the top and soft in the middle, as all Yorkshire puddings should be, and it certainly helped that the gravy was very tasty as well and made from scratch. As a roast fan, I’d certainly recommend coming here if you are ever in East Bergholt, you won’t be disappointed.

Who are Constable Lodges suitable for?

During the time we stayed, we saw a varied mix of people. There were groups of friends, couples, and people with smaller children. I’d say personally that Constable Lodges are suitable for anyone who is looking for a nice break, where you do not have to do too much and can unplug from the stresses of the outside world.

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