The Lifeboat Inn

The North Norfolk coastline is one of those places in the UK which live up to every word of the hype; it truly is beautiful and any chance to visit, a must. In recent years the roads have become awash with Range Rovers, as those who can afford to, head to their holiday homes and weekend cottages. It is ironic that the very thing which they so desired – the peace, calm and beauty – is being slowly eroded predominantly but not exclusively by them, but thankfully not entirely, as yet. 

Tucked down a side road off the A149 in Thornham is the 16th-century Lifeboat Inn, and a more idyllic location for an inn is hard to find. Handy enough for the main road, far enough away, so the traffic is but a memory and in front, nothing but farmland and the salt marshes. Access to the coastal path is right outside the door, and in less than 10 minutes you will be walking in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Drink in the views, the wildlife, the birds and the seashore. Walking is peaceful (and flat), no cars just the scrunch of wellies on the paths.

Rooms – 4/5

In number 14 we were happy. This is not the best room for views (for that you need to be one floor up) but with an outside seating area, I imagine in the summer is idyllic. The room has had an impressive makeover, and this one was spacious with super-comfy beds and good quality bedding, a very well equipped bathroom with large walk in shower, and soft, deep-piled towels. Bizarrely there is nowhere to unpack to save a row of hooks and a shelf which for one night is fine but more?

The Inn – 4/5

The inn itself is a dark, moody, warren of low-ceilinged rooms, a large fireplace complete with roaring fire and a well-stocked bar of ales, wines and a variety of gin. Here is a place to hunker down and forget the rest of the world.

The Food – 2/5

They hold no stars or Rosettes and make no claims to plaudits. They do promise locally sourced and seasonal foods. All was there, but something went array between kitchen and guest and yet despite a good start, Chef managed to ruin a much-longed-for weekend break with an arrogant approach to a tepid main course. They removed the cost of the food from the bill including what had been excellent starters (despite our request not to), but nothing would make up for our disappointment. Breakfast could have fared better had staff been aware that this was a Sunday morning and a relaxing breakfast was all we wanted; instead we listened to the scraping of chairs and clatter of knives forks and plates as they set up for lunch when we were barely through our first cup of tea. A very disappointing time if a relaxing break is what you desire.

Service – 2/5

There is no clear direction at the inn, who is in charge is anyone’s guess? Someone does need to take control and reaffirm that it is the guest and their comfort and needs which matter. The beautiful location and comfy beds will never make up for leaving disappointed.

Double Room with breakfast £180

Final Thoughts:  A fabulous Inn,  in an enviable location. The Inn is picture perfect, and though service suffered from a lack of direction and the food, a severe case of arrogance, I am sure the quality is there as long as you don’t complain about anything and upset the chef. I would go back.


Tel: 01485 512236




The salt marshes near the Lifeboat Inn – Idyllic, peaceful walks. 

Photo © Elaine Lemm