Elegant hotels that have both a historic relevance and a priceless setting are a rarity but The George Hotel at Cley located on the North Norfolk coast has it all. The hotel dates back to 18th Century. It survived World War II bombing and the 1953 floods. In 1926 The George hosted the inaugural meeting of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (known then as The Norfolk Naturalists Trust) after their purchase of 407 acres of the nearby Cley Marshes for £5,160. Cley-Next-The-Sea is a timeless North Norfolk seaside brick and flint village with a traditional red telephone box and storybook streets.
Seasoned Traveller who knows what works
Stephen Cleeve has owned The George Hotel at Cley since October 2013. Prior to this, in his previous life as an entrepreneurial businessman, he spent a great deal of his time staying in hotels and travelling worldwide. He stayed more than 300 nights a year away from home on business. With his vast experience of visiting hotels, and with young children at home, Stephen decided he wanted to make use of his ever growing knowledge of hospitality, not miss another moment of family life and hang up his travelling shoes by opening and running a perfect hotel in a perfect setting. For Stephen, the North Norfolk Coast had always been an area of idyllic tranquillity and a wonderful location to set his plans into action.
Stephen Cleeve’s Vision
The George Hotel at Cley became available and for Stephen it was an ideal hotel and position to establish the relaxed but luxurious country hotel environment that he had envisaged.
There were a few hurdles to jump before the keys could be handed over to Stephen. As The George Hotel at Cley was Stephen’s first venture into the hospitality industry he had difficulty in acquiring financial backing. However, a year after his initial interest in The George he made a deal that could almost pass for local hearsay or folklore. It was Stephen’s final punt at making his dreams of owning and running a perfect hotel come true… and it worked. He swapped the keys to his flat in London for the keys to The George Hotel at Cley and began his new life in North Norfolk.
He started planning a refurbishment programme. A new kitchen was installed, the cellar updated, the bar refurbished and the outside repainted. The George started to gain a new reputation and after a dip in popularity prior to Stephen taking over, The George Hotel at Cley became much loved once again. When the beer inspector for the Cask Marque visited The George, he remarked “it was probably the best pint in Norfolk”. Each day remarks like this from locals or visitors of the area remind Stephen that his bold decision was a wise one.
The Bar and The Birdwatcher’s Bible
Now at The George Hotel at Cley there are regular beer tastings and delicious food is served daily. It has become a particular favourite of bird watchers and for many years has been home to an impressive handwritten and illustrated ‘bird bible’ where guests can jot down their sightings. Even for the birdwatching novice, The George Hotel at Cley is worth a visit to see this fabulous book.
Guests can dine in the delightful air-conditioned restaurant or in the spacious and sunny beer garden. The restaurant serves delicious seasonal dishes using local ingredients. There are cots and highchairs available for children. Dogs are extremely welcome and there are plenty of doggie treats on offer behind the bar.
The George has 10 staff and is managed by Ashley Woodhouse and Matthew Cole. All staff live locally and many were born and bred in Norfolk making them a fountain of local knowledge. All are thrilled to offer suggestions about what to do in the area.
The George Hotel at Cley is one of the most inviting hotels in Norfolk and is found on the naturally charming and alluring North Norfolk Coast.