Saved from demolition by husband-and-wife team Lucy and Richard Golding, this newly launched pub with rooms in King's Lynn, Norfolk, offers a relaxed, informal and contemporary-retro vibe. Tessa Allingham pays a visit
By any account, the birth of Goldings Public House and Rooms in King's Lynn, Norfolk, has not been an easy one. On a pre-Christmas visit, the pub, which opened following a full renovation in early 2018 after two years standing empty, sparkles with the season. The buzz of a party (one was held every day from 29 November to 23 December) distracts the gaze from the evidence of repair and redecoration following the serious plumbing problems that had forced the closure of the new upstairs rooms just weeks after they opened in September.
"We had no water, no heating," recalls Lucy Golding, co-owner with her husband Richard. "We had to move guests to other hotels in the town; it was awful, so stressful." To compound the problem, it was Norfolk Restaurant Week, when the Goldings' adjacent 35-cover restaurant, Market Bistro, where Richard is chef-patron, was packed to the rafters.
Now, that's all behind them. "Nothing can faze us after the start we've had, and I can see the way forward," says Lucy, delighted to have secured regular business from Palm Paper, one of the town's major manufacturing businesses. "There's a real need for rooms in King's Lynn. We could see that when we were having to book our guests into other hotels. We struggled to find space."
She's confident that the contemporary rooms (four suites and two studios) will hit forecast occupancy of "at least 80%" during 2019, especially given the growing appeal of west Norfolk. "People are priced out of Cambridge as a place to live and work, and the push seems to be coming this way." King's Lynn is on a direct train line to London, and a Business Improvement District levy promotes the town's remarkable Hanseatic port heritage, encouraging visitors to also see it as a gateway to explore north Norfolk and the Fens.
The Goldings' story began in 2015 when the pub, previously known as the Wenns, was forced to close. The 18th-century listed building, with its elegant curved frontage and tall sash windows, became derelict before developers bought it. "We were then offered the lease and it made sense," says Richard. "We didn't want to find ourselves in a few years' time saying ‘what if', and we always knew the bistro needed rooms."
Goldings' tide clock logo, which references the clock on one of King's Lynn's Minster's towers, was created by local design agency Studio 20a, further anchoring the business in its location and history. "It's so Instagrammable!" Lucy jokes. "Guests love it; the number of times we get posts of the logo is incredible."
Every one of the 52 original sash windows was restored, beams and posts repaired and many steel-clad in accordance with regulations, before being painted with fire-retardant paint to the tune of £1,000 a post. The couple spent around £120,000 on fixtures and fittings for the rooms and the pub, with an extra £100,000 being added to the lease to ensure the building work was done as the Goldings required.
A year after the launch of the pub, the rooms above opened coinciding with the 10th anniversary of Market Bistro. In 2005 the couple moved from Wales, where they had run a seven-bedroom country house hotel in rural Carmarthenshire, to take on the Orange Tree restaurant in Thornham near Hunstanton, Norfolk, before the opportunity to open Market Bistro arose in 2009. The business had previously found infamy as Rococo, one of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares challenges, but the Goldings found a ready local appetite for Richard's ingredient-led cooking and Lucy's relaxed hospitality. They in turn committed themselves to the community, sourcing ingredients locally where feasible, but also turning to local businesses as much as possible to create the look they wanted for their most recent project.
"If you invest in the local economy, it will come back to you," says Lucy. "Goldings and Market Bistro are as much about building a community and friendships, and about encouraging people to visit and enjoy our town, as it has been about opening a pub with rooms. We wanted to create a relaxed, informal place that didn't feel too 'hotelly' - more like staying at a friend's for the weekend."
The four suites and two studios are accessed from the back of the pub. Room names - each referencing a former licensee - are painted on the heavy wooden doors in attractive script, a design motif also seen in the pub below.
The look is fresh and contemporary-retro. The sleek lines of the Ercol-style sofas and chairs are a theme throughout, though each suite or studio has its own colourway defined by a spectacular padded headboard behind the kingsize beds. Created by upholsterer Adrian Howes (who also restores furniture for the Royal Household at Sandringham), some are in shimmering crushed velvet, others in classy velvet-edged linen. The colours are picked up in cushions and throws, as well as the Roman blinds and curtains made by Tom Clarke, who runs the Old Stores, a homewares and design emporium in nearby Roydon.
Colour pops elsewhere. The dining area of the Rush suite (it was Preston Moore Rush who extended Wenns pub in the 1920s to create 'a noted hostelry') has four brightly upholstered dining chairs, while the pastel pink of Gardner, Lucy's favourite room, is picked up in the spray of pink and white flowers on the dressing table and pink bedside table lampshades.
In practical terms, a Samsung Smart Hub TV enables full internet access as well as conventional viewing, while sofa beds make three of the rooms family-friendly. Two are dog-friendly too, with four-legged guests invited to snooze in Dave's Den, an alcove with bed and bowls in the Wenn suite. The tucked-away corner is named after the Goldings' own porkie, a pug-Yorkshire terrier cross.
e couple have resisted filling the neutral walls with art, though in time quirky portraits by local artist Tim Mann, whose studio is a stone's throw from Goldings, may be hung for sale. Views of the Minster are especially captivating in the evening, when the Lynn Lumière spectacle illuminates the building and more than makes up for the plain walls. Similarly, the shape of the building as it curves from Saturday Market Place into the high street is a beautiful feature of the Luckly and Gardner rooms, while the sloping ceilings in the top-floor rooms, and occasional painted beams, lend characterful interest.
Bathrooms are sleek with chrome taps, white sanitaryware and generous mirrors. Tiling is avoided around wet areas because of the local hard water, with dark grey showerboard panels used instead to stylish effect. A double drench shower and Japanese plunge bath make the Wenn bathroom a place to linger, though the freestanding roll-top bath by the window of the Rush suite, with its spectacular view of the Minster through original leaded window panes, is surely a contender. Eco-friendly toiletries by Mitre Linen are in every room.
The four suites have a breakfast bar and kitchen area fitted with a Lamona induction hob, combi oven, dishwasher and fridge-freezer, Sage by Heston Blumenthal toaster and kettle, and a Nespresso coffee-maker. An Ercol wooden plate rack in Wenn was a find from local vintage store, Reloved. Guests are encouraged to shop from the locally sourced food and drink in the Goldings' deli (they also receive a complimentary selection from the shop on arrival), or to pop down for coffee and pastries in the morning.
Goldings pub and Market Bistro
For those who decide not to self-cater, the Goldings pub offers the likes of featherblade steak with truffle fries, an ox cheek pie, a superfood salad, or platter of Norfolk charcuterie or cheeses, alongside craft ales and premium gins. Food is served in surroundings where vintage pendant lights, school-style chairs and the dark blue-grey tones of Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue on the walls give a contemporary, industrial feel and a nod to the coastal location.
t door, cosy, candlelit Market Bistro is where Richard and his head chef Brandon Allison offer their acclaimed menu: barbecued purple sprouting broccoli with cabbage, fermented turnip and Poacher custard as a possible starter; followed perhaps by halibut, sprouts various ways, artichoke and pork belly, or squash pappardelle, squash cake, shiitake mushrooms, cured egg yolk and pumpkin seeds. Desserts include a blood orange tart with cardamom, chocolate sorbet and pistachio, or carrot sponge with vanilla frosting, candied carrot and gingerbread ice-cream.
Richard and Lucy Golding are due to feature in the new series of Four in a Bed on Channel 4.
Contact and details
Goldings Public House and Rooms
8-9 Saturday Market Place, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE30 5DQ
Opened September 2018 (rooms)
Business owners Richard and Lucy Golding
Staff 25 (pub and rooms)
Bedrooms Six (four suites, two studios)
Room rate Studio, £95; suite, £165
SuppliersFurniture Artertons www.artertons.co.uk Cult Furniture www.cultfurniture.com Maisons du Monde www.maisonsdumonde.com Samsung Smart Hub TV www.samsung.com Warings Furniture www.waringsfurniture.com Textiles The Old Stores www.theoldstoresroydon.co.uk Mitre Linen www.mitrelinen.co.uk Bathrooms Bathco www.bathcoeu.com Essential Bathing www.essentialbathing.co.uk Anyah Eco Spa toiletries www.mitrelinen.co.uk Kitchens Nespresso www.nespresso.com Sage by Heston Blumenthal www.sageappliances.com Lamona appliances www.howdens.com Vintage pieces Reloved www.relovedstuff.net Vintage Electrical www.vintage-electrical.co.uk Artwork Tim Mann www.timmannartist.com Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).
You need to be a premium member to view this. Subscribe from just 99p per week.
Already subscribed? Log In