The Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds: A Tribute to Charles Dickens

From the outside looking in, I have always wondered about the rooms hidden away behind the climbing ivy which beautifully enhances the old brickwork at the front of The Angel Hotel.  It especially captures my attention in the height of summer when the brightly coloured flowers – the pinks, the reds, and the whites – are in full bloom and trail from the windows and across the entrance door. Even in the winter though, when the Christmas lights appear, there is something magical about this regal looking house and it seems that I am not alone.

The outside of The Angel hotel in Bury St Edmunds. Suffolk.

Charles Dickens and The Angel Hotel

Charles Dickens was also drawn to this impressive building and became a regular visitor during his trips to the town where he was often seen reading to a captive audience at the Athenaeum, just next door.  In fact, his very room, number 11 (now suite 215), is still unchanged today.

During our visit, therefore, I just had to see the room, and it turns out this is a frequent request.  People apparently, often ask for a sneak peek into the green room that was once the writing den of one of Britain’s best-loved authors.  If only I had known this before. I may have popped in for a spot of Afternoon Tea and asked for a cheeky glimpse of it for myself years ago.

The Charles Dickens Suite at The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds

The Charles Dickens Suite at The Angel

In fact, it is one of the most popular rooms in the hotel and I can see why.  Opening the door, you are transported back in time to an era of rich modesty.  The walls still sport the patterned green wallpaper in keeping with Dickens’s visit as well as a rather large, dark wooded four-poster bed that is the focal point of the room.  The fact that you can still visit this room today, in my eyes, is monumental.  How many other writers from yesterday-year can say that they have had a room handsomely preserved in their honour?

Charles Dickens, in fact, visited The Angel on three separate occasions. Firstly as a journalist for the Morning Chronicle back in 1835 and then again in both 1859 and 1861 when he performed at the theatre next door.  The Angel is also where part of his famed novel, The Pickwick Papers was penned; in the very room that I too got to stand in. 

 Seriously, I know that sounds geeky but fellow bookworms, how cool is that? I won’t even begin to consider apologising for my enthusiasm at being in the same room as the mastermind behind so many of the world’s best-loved fictional characters – even if we forget bibliophiles for a moment, there are also a lot of Scrooge film fans out there that have him to be thankful for as well.

For those that want to take their obsession even further, you can also get a glimpse of the author’s very own handwriting during check-in.  Look sideways at the reception desk and framed for all to see is a cheque written by the man himself to The Angel dating back to the 1800s.

Signed cheque by Charles Dickens at The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Signed cheque by Writer, Charles Dickens

Of course, not everyone wants to stay in a room dating back to the 19th century which is why this luxurious hotel also has made other rooms and suites to choose from.

The Contemporary Suites of The Angel Hotel

While I love the history attached to the Charles Dickens Suite, I did actually really enjoy my stay in the contemporary suite gifted to us at reception.

When seeking out a luxury stay, it is often hard to find all the elements we are looking for – a nice room, comfortable bed, a large bathroom with a big bathtub – to name just a few items on my normal wish list. 

It may sound like I am after a lot, but when I think of a lavish break, I want it all. I don’t want to be left wishing I had found somewhere else, or be disappointed with any element of our time away.  Thankfully, The Angel Hotel completely blew me and my expectations away.

The Contemporary suite at The Angel in Bury St Edmunds

One of the contemporary suites at The Angel

Walking into our suite not only could I see an extremely large sumptuous bed, with expensive linens and cushions matching the colour scheme perfectly, I also had a full-sized sofa to relax on while watching TV should I wish, chilled bottled water and to top it all off a bathroom with not only a huge rainfall shower but also an enormous copper bath just calling out for bubbles, wine and a good book. 

The large bed in the contemporary suite at The Angel in Bury St Edmunds

The large copper bath at The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds

The luxury shower in the contemporary suite at The Angel in Bury St Edmunds

Little touches at the Angel in Bury St Edmunds

The luxurious little touches in the bathroom at The Angel

It was the kind of room you never want to leave. 

When I find a hotel like this, I very often want to while away my hours enjoying the luxurious room and all it has to offer.  Yes, of course, I want to explore the town, but I also want to enjoy the opulence around me.  It was therefore a given that we would dine in the hotel restaurant that evening, which I have to say was an absolute pleasure.  From the surroundings to the meal itself and the paired wine, it really was difficult to fault the evening in any way.

Beetroot salad starter at The Angel in Bury St Edmunds

A beetroot salad starter at the hotel restaurant

Mushroom risotto main at The Angel Bury St Edmunds

The amazing mushroom risotto served in the hotel restaurant

Beef stew at the Angel hotel

Beef stew served at The Angel

The bar of The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds

In fact, The Angel Hotel was probably one of our best breaks yet, and now that it has been fully refurbished with even more dedicated Charles Dickens, it seems only fitting that we will be returning again soon.

The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, Norfolk, UK where Charles Dickens wrote The Pickwick Papers

The lounge area of The Angel Hotel

What to do in Bury St Edmunds?

Bury St Edmunds Suffolk

Bury St Edmunds is a market town in Suffolk with 100’s of years of history to explore. 

Within walking distance of The Angel Hotel, you will find yourself outside the gates of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral which is well worth looking around.  If you enjoy your history then I would highly recommend also exploring the ruins of the 11th century Abbey which was once, one of the most important monasteries in medieval Europe.

For those into a different kind of history, one involving beer, you must stop off for a guided tour of the Greene King brewery where you will learn more about how the beers are crafted, how important the brewery was and still is to the local community and how large the brand has become.  This tour also comes with an amazing beer tasting season from those that really do know what they are talking about and even if you are not a beer fan I challenge you to sit through a whole tasting without finding one that tickles your taste buds.

Greene King Brewery tour Bury St Edmunds

Greene King Brewery Tour

Greene King Brewery Tour

Tasting Room at Greene King Brewery

The tasting room at Greene King Brewery

The Greene King Brewery at Bury St Edminds

For those who have a passion for literature, you could also seek out the house of Nora Lofts, author of over 50 books, some of which were turned into films as well as retracing the steps of some of the country’s great authors (Defoe, Thackery, Coleridge and Ruth Rendell to name just a few) through the streets of the town, simply exploring the treasures of Bury St Edmunds for yourself.

Finally no stop off in Bury St Edmunds would be complete without having a pint in The Nutshell, Britain’s smallest pub according to The Guinness Book of Records. Not only is it quirky for its size but also its decor and bar staff. It is simply not to be missed when you do decide to visit this wonderful town.

The Nutshell Bury St Edmunds

Visit the smallest pub in Bury St Edmunds

Have you visited Bury St Edmunds? Do you have any other recommendations you would like to share with us?

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The Angel Bury St Edmunds

(We would like to thank all the staff at The Angel Hotel for their warm welcome and impeccable service.  We were gifted our stay at the hotel, but as always, this does not influence our thoughts or opinions regarding our stay.  We only ever recommend somewhere that we would happily return to ourselves as paying guests).

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  • Martin Sledge says:

    It is written that Dickens quoted on arrival at the Angel with his carriage guest “Ah the Angel, we must be in Bury St Edmunds!,.and remember to check out St Mary’s Church just up from the cathedral, where you will find the tombstone of Mary Tudor Henry’s sister.Great article, thank you.

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