UK breaks: Colchester, Essex

Discover Colchester's surprisingly romantic haven

UK breaks: Colchester, Essex Layer Marney Tower - © Layer Marney Tower
By Jessica Ablitt Sudbury

Where’s the most romantic place to propose in the UK? England’s tallest Tudor gatehouse, Layer Marney Tower, near Colchester, comes close.

It has also been known to provide a white horse, full suit of armour and its lofty tower to help set the scene.

The Edwardian tea pavilion is even available as a secluded retreat with views over the rolling Constable countryside. The butler is no longer at your beck and call, but this private self-catering cottage, with original oak beams and wood-burning stoves, still exudes old-school luxury.

Carter’s Vineyards produces a range of award-winning, eco-friendly wines on its 40 acres, which are surrounded by wildflower meadows, lakes and woodlands. Picnics are welcome, too – as long as you don’t mind the company of kingfishers, woodpeckers and deer.

Where to eat

Le Talbooth

For a tantalising meal for two in a sixteenth-century timber framed house, Le Talbooth serves a range of local seafood.

Stratford Road, Dedham, Colchester, Essex, CO7 6HN (01206 322 367, Mains start at £8.25 on the A La Carte menu.

Where to stay

The Stoke by Nayland Club

This venue boasts 300 acres of idyllic landscape and impressive facilities including a twin massage suite, Egyptian Rasoul mud-therapy treatments, on-site fishing, and two championship golf courses.

Keepers Lane, Leavenheath, Colchester, Essex, CO6 4PZ (01206 262 836,
. Doubles from £79 per night.

Maison Talbooth

Colchester’s not far from the east coast, but for a warmer soak, Le Talbooth’s hotel sister, Maison Talbooth, has some stunning suites with their own hot tubs on private terraces. Milsoms Hotel is a lively gastrobar and the informal atmosphere make for a relaxing refuge.

Stratford Road, Dedham, Colchester, Essex, CO7 6HN (01206 322 367, Doubles from £186 per night.

Getting there

Nearest train station

Colchester, which is managed by National Express East Anglia (

Further Information

For further information, visit

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