North Norfolk pub re-opens as a hotel
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Wander through the beautiful market square in Fakenham and right in the centre you’ll find The Crown - a pub, restaurant and soon-to-be hotel. The former coaching inn dates back to the 15th century and is run by Alie Hannam and her close-knit team.
Alie took over five years ago, running the pub and restaurant on the building’s ground floor – a hub of the local community and very much a focal point during the town’s recent Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
The owner of the hotel, Chris Cunningham, has redeveloped the property at a considerable investment: “I’m excited that the hotel will create new tourism and bring life to the centre of Fakenham,” he says. “I’m pleased that this opportunity for Alie and her team has enabled them to provide new job opportunities for the local community. Without investment in our local communities town centres would cease to flourish.”
When Alie took the helm behind the bar, she hadn’t thought that re-opening the hotel was an option that was until Mr Cunningham suggested that, after several successful years of her running the pub, she resurrect the hotel part of the business too.
It’s taken a year to painstakingly bring each room up to scratch, but it’s all paid off because now the place will once again be able to offer accommodation. They’ll officially throw open the doors on July 1, but bookings are now being taken.
“There are 12 double, en-suite rooms,” says Alie. “Because it’s a 15th century coaching inn, it’s quite a large building. The upstairs is quite funny to navigate because you’ve got two floors but there are a few staircases. So, it’s a weird lay-out, but it’s the original design," she laughs.
Each generously-sized room has been designed to be minimalistic and uncluttered - traditional with a modern vibe. Alie carefully matched colours from headboards and paintings on the wall with soft furnishings. Everything that’s been done has been the result of the hard work and dedication of her and her team.
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“It could have been overwhelming, but it was more exciting,” explains Alie. “We all did it together. I think the enthusiasm overtook and none of us thought it wasn’t doable.
“The inn's got so much history. It used to have stage coaches coming from London and they’d come through the archway at the side of the pub. Rumours are there’s a cellar here which was filled in many years ago, which I haven’t got access to yet.”
The hotel is right in the middle of Fakenham and a mere 12 miles from the stunning north Norfolk coast.
“In the last few years, so many people, on a daily basis, would come in and ask, ‘Have you got any rooms upstairs?’ and I’d think, ‘I wish I had the hotel open!’” says Alie. “We’d take daily phone calls from people wanting a room, bed and breakfast, or half board, so I think there’s definitely a need for it, it is definitely going to enhance the town with more footfall!”
It’s been a learning curve for the team, not only with the hotel and interior design aspects, but with the online side of things too, with a new website with an online booking system recently launched.
“The output from the restaurant will increase, allowing us to employ additional staff when the hotel reopens too,” Alie explains.
At the head of the kitchen, former apprentice Kaiya Kuruca is quite possibly the youngest head chef in the county, who has created an exciting new menu. “He’s extremely enthusiastic with the amount of new covers the restaurant will now have to take,” says Alie. “We’re getting brilliant reviews online from people who come in to eat – from the Sunday carvery, through to evening meals and lunches.”
The Crown’s 'famous' carvery will still be on offer every Sunday, and bookings are advisable.
“We always finish the Sunday off with karaoke," says Alie. “It’s quite surprising how many people come every single Sunday for karaoke. It finishes their week off. People find it’s a nice way to wind down after the weekend.”
You can book a meal or a stay at fakenhamcrownhotel.co.uk