The Directory of Unusual Places to Stay

The Patch

King's Lynn, Norfolk, England
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Victorian railway carriage hidden in a homely chalet bungalow, sleeping up to 8, near quiet beach beside The Wash, NW Norfolk

The quirky aspect of The Patch is that it's been created around a Victorian railway carriage! It was put in place as simple holiday accommodation in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Over the years a house has grown up around the old carriage, and it's now a homely self-catering chalet bungalow with four bedrooms and a large garden.

The Patch is well off the beaten track at Snettisham Beach on the north west coast of Norfolk, between Kings Lynn and Hunstanton. It's on a unique stretch of coast facing west towards The Wash and the great North Sea - and (another quirky aspect!) enjoys the title of Norfolk's Sunset Coast - well -earned, as we often enjoy some of the most spectacular sunsets imaginable.

Back to The Patch: the carriage houses two bedrooms - one with twin beds, one with bunks - and the shower room/toilet. (NB There is only one shower and toilet in the house - although the original outside loo is still available in the shed!) These downstairs facilities are handy for elderly guests, or people who are not very good with stairs.

Upstairs there are two sunny bedrooms - one with a kingsized bed and dual aspect windows, the other a large room with a single bed, but with plenty of room for a comfortable folding bed if needed.

The owners can provide a travel cot, high chair, stair gates and other baby gear at no extra cost.

There's a spacious, well-equipped kitchen with a full sized electric cooker and double oven, and the usual small electricals. No dishwasher, sorry, due to plumbing limitations. There's also  a table and chairs for six .The large lounge/dining room has another six-seater table and chairs, 3-piece suite, TV with Freeview, DVD player with lots of family-friendly films, CD/radio. WiFi, of course. A cupboard packed with games and pastimes for evenings and quiet days. Lots of books both fact and fiction for adults and children, local guides and maps.

Outside, the house sits in its own large private garden with lots of room for lively children (and dogs) to run around and play. It's a great place for an al-fresco breakfast in the morning sunshine or a barbecue in the evening - we have a large barbecue made from half an oil drum.

In an outhouse there's a second larder fridge, a freezer and washing machine.

In the garage there are several bicycles of varying sizes which guests are free to use - we don't provide helmets though.

Garden furniture is kept in the garage, and also in the shed (along with that historic loo, which we describe as being 'For the nostalgic, the adventurous or the merely desperate!' You have to flush it with a bucket of water from the tap beside the toilet.)

Opposite the house is a lake, where there are sailing lessons in the summertime. And it's just a short walk along footpaths to Snettisham's quiet, undeveloped beach on the edge of the Wash. For bird and wildlife enthusiasts, the famous RSPB Snettisham nature reserve is within easy walking or cycling distance - a wild and wonderful place!

Fishermen can enjoy the nearby Kings Lynn Angling Association lakes, and Snettisham Beach Sailing Club offers opportunities to sail. Astronomers and romantics can enjoy the velvety black night skies - not much light pollution here. And children love seeing all the rabbits and ducks which populate the garden and surrounding lands in the mornings and evenings.

For day to day necessities the Beach Stores general shop is open for about six months of the year. Snettisham village is about two miles inland and has a decent range of facilities including a Co-op, which is open long hours and has an indoor cashpoint.

There are some great places to eat in this area. Fish and chips close by in season and the Beach Cafe Bar a little further. In the village you'll find the ward winning Rose and Crown pub and Old Bank restaurant, and also the Queen Victoria pub which does good traditional pub grub.

Attractions abound, such as Snettisham Farm Park, Sandringham House (the Royal Family's much grander holiday home), Bircham Windmill and the atmospheric Castle Rising (both favourites with children), the iconic Norfolk Lavender farm at Heacham. The cheerful seaside holiday town of Hunstanton is about 6 miles away, with its theatre, fairground, Sea Life Centre and leisure centre with swimming pool and other attractions. Kings Lynn, a historic market town with some wonderful old buildings, is about 9 miles in the other direction.

OTHER DETAILS: Off road parking. Secure garden. Dogs accepted by arrangement, £20 each per week or pro rata. Bedding provided (duvet and two pillows for each person) or you can choose to bring your own linen and towels for a discount. Kitchen and bathroom hand towels and consumables are supplied. .

Prices vary widely, so you would need to ask for a quote. At 2019 prices, it would be from  £400 for a winter week for two people up to £812 for a summer week for eight people. In the high season we only take full week, full capacity bookings with a Saturday changeover. Outside peak times we are happy to be flexible.

Room Types

Whole property for 5 or more

Nearest Airport/s

Norwich