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Willow House bed and breakfast in Fornham St Martin, near Bury St Edmunds, offers a home from home experience - and a whole lot more

I jumped at the chance to stay overnight at Folk Café's new bed and breakfast.

If the success of the café itself is anything to go by, it was always going to be good.

Folk Café, in Fornham St Martin, near Bury St Edmunds, has been a roaring success story since its launched in 2018.

Willow House, Fornham St Martin. Pictures: Chris Morris
Willow House, Fornham St Martin. Pictures: Chris Morris

It's now also about to triple in size, due to its popularity.

The B&B idea came about after a former farmworker's house became available, just a few yards away.

Folk Café is situated on Fornham Business Court, which itself is situated in the midst 1,300 acres of farmland, on the majestic Hall Farm Estate.

The TV room
The TV room

Today, Hall Farm produces more than 600 acres of potatoes for supermarkets, in addition to 350 acres of onions, cereals and sugar beet.

It also boasts one of the finest Edwardian Heritage Barns in Suffolk.

Folk Café was only ever originally intended to serve the companies on the business park. But over the last five years, it has become a popular destination spot, or meeting point even, for people from across Suffolk Norfolk, Cambridge and Essex.

The living room
The living room

Hall Farm Estate itself, is typical Suffolk, offering panoramic countryside views, big open skies, and lots of light.

Willow House bed and breakfast is a three-bedroom flint house.

It has now been fully renovated and refurbished, with what seem like, no expense spared.

The kitchen
The kitchen

The first thing you notice, apart from the fact it is immaculate, is the attention to detail.

Each room, even the cupboards, offering a new surprise, from a giant Samsung TV, to a Samsung washing dryer and separate tumble dryer, ice trays, board games, wine glasses and chopsticks.

There is also a Dyson vacuum, and Dualit toaster, not to mention delightful touches of floral decoration throughout.

You only really need to remember your toothbrush.

The driveway to the business court and B&B
The driveway to the business court and B&B

The house is decorated in soft pallet colours, starting with white and red in the breakfast/conservatory room, perfect for reading, to light wood and green and rouge in the kitchen, blush pink wallpaper in living room, with cream and burnt orange sofas, turquoise in the hallways and yellow in the master bedroom.

The neat little toilet and bath shower room are separate, and equally pleasing, with antique brass style shower.

There is also a satisfying crunch from the gravel driveway as you arrive, as the B&B has its own private parking and garden.

On arrival, I am greeted, with a goody bag containing Wooster's seeded loaf, butter, folk compote, granola, Greek yoghurt, crisps, beer, Prosecco, milk, tea, coffee, and sugar.

I head immediately for the main sofa which is fit for a king: a king couch potato that is as it's probably the comfiest sofa I have ever sat on.

More akin to a bed.

It's only 3.30pm in the afternoon, but the house is so comfortable, I am ready to settle in for the rest of the afternoon, and evening, after a week at work.

The master bedroom
The master bedroom

Bury St Edmunds is hardly a rat race, but that week, there had been incessant traffic queues, you are more likely to see in inner city London.

With a list of domestic 49 amenities, it really does feel stress free.

There is really nothing to worry about.

I try to figure out the giant TV, and the choice of channels is immense.

However, as it's a mini-holiday, I feel duty bound to explore at least a little of the immediate location.

I am not too familiar with the Fornhams so decide to go on a short tour.

Ice trays on the freezer
Ice trays on the freezer

I've been recommended Lucy's Pizzeria in Fornham all Saints.

It's packed on the night, but they managed to fit me in for a Calabrian sausage, red onion and chill pizza, which is delicious.

I visit the nearby Three Kings and the Woolpack, back in Fornham St Martin on the way back.

Locals at the Three Kings Pub
Locals at the Three Kings Pub

It all makes for a pleasant evening out, but to be honest, the B&B is so comfortable, I'd have been just as happy, staying in.

It's a little bit chilly when I get back, and realise I don't know how to set the heating.

I am however completely overlooking the log burner, staring me right in the face.

The night sky over Bury St Edmunds
The night sky over Bury St Edmunds

This comes equipped with bucket of firelighters, gloves, tongs and a natty bottle of matches.

Within minutes I have a roaring fire, a giant TV, the comfiest sofa in the world.

I settle on Inside Classical on BBC iPlayer for the rest of the night, with Elgar's Violin Concerto and Sibelius' 5th.

Without any neighbours to worry about, you can turn it up reasonably loud.

By this time, I am wishing I had come home earlier, and spent the whole Friday night 'in'.

The house sleeps 10, with use of the sofa bed. Having it to myself, I chose the master bedroom.

Saturday morning at Folk Café
Saturday morning at Folk Café

I really can't remember much after that, apart from having a good 10 hours sleep, and being late for breakfast.

Folk Café on Saturday morning, also came as something as a surprise.

I'd been advised to give 20 minutes warning, so I could get a table,

Forgetting this, I arrived to find it packed and thriving, with a wide range of breakfast choices to start the day.

I choose scrambled eggs.

Folk Café also offers ready made meals or bespoke gifts for its B&B guests, such as champagne and flowers.

The whole visit went by quickly to be honest and like anything good, leaves you wanting more.

Scrambled eggs on toast and espresso
Scrambled eggs on toast and espresso

I don't think I discovered anywhere near what the house itself, the café, or surrounding area had to offer, as enjoyable as it was.

Even though it feels like a world unto it own, it's also less than 10 minutes outside of Bury St Edmunds, with its nightlife, bar, theatre, and culinary offerings.

At £161 a night, Willow House is not cheap, (depending on how many people are staying) but as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

At Willow House, you get what you pay for, and whole lot more.


The full list of amenities

Fully equipped kitchen/Cosy living room /log burner/3 x bedrooms/1 x bathroom/sleeps up to ten/scenic views/garden view/bathroom/bath/hair dryer/cleaning products/hot water/bedroom and laundry/free washer – in building/free dryer – in building.

Towels/bed sheets/soap/toilet paper/hangers/bed linen/cotton linen/iron/clothes drying rack/clothes storage/wardrobe.

TV/Cot/high chair upon request/children’s tableware/board games/eating and cooling/indoor fireplace/central heating/home safety/smoke alarm/carbon monoxide alarm/fire extinguisher/first aid kit/internet/Wifi with super-fast broadband.

Private garden
Private garden

Kitchen/space where guests can cook their own meals/refrigerator/microwave/cooking basics/pots and pans, oil, salt and pepper/dishes and silverware/bowls, chopsticks, plates, cups/freezer/dishwasher/electric cooker/oven/kettle/wine glasses/toaster/coffee/dining table.

Private entrance/separate street or building entrance/outdoor/private back garden – fully fenced/fire pit/outdoor furniture/outdoor dining area/parking and facilities/free parking on premises/free on-street parking/services.

Pets allowed/assistance animals always allowed/self check-in/lockbox.

To find out more, visit: www.folk.cafe