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Felixstowe Gardens

10 Perfect Places to Relax with your Book in Suffolk

If you’re coming to Suffolk for a short-break or long holiday, and some downtime or relaxation is part of the plan, then these calming places in Suffolk are a must-visit.

Enjoy a little 'me time', escape deadlines and the hustle and bustle of everyday life and treat yourself to a quiet read with that book you’ve been dying to start; lose yourself, and you never know… you might also find yourself.


Felixstowe Seafront Gardens

Nestled in the cliffs between the beach and the town, visit Felixstowe Seafront Gardens and you might be mistaken for thinking you’ve stepped back in time to the turn of the 19th century.

Comprised of 8 Grade II listed gardens, the landscaped garden is almost a kilometre long, so there are plenty of spots for you to perch with a good read. Or, simply relax and take in the stunning views and listen to the rolling waves as they gently touch the shoreline. 

In Victorian times, a visit to the gardens was said to improve health and relaxation, and over 100 years on, the same can be said today.

Felixstowe Seafront Gardens

Felixstowe Seafront Gardens

The Fire Station, Woodbridge

The Fire Station Café, Bar and Coffee Roasters, opened in Woodbridge in 2013 and has galvanised the trendy coffee scene in this waterside town. With an adjoining roastery to the back of the building which brews for the café, other retail outlets and online sales, absorb the creative vibe and relaxed atmosphere inside, with a full coffee menu available to sample.

Situated on the town’s Thoroughfare, grab a window seat and watch the world go by, check out the artwork on sale in the café’s own gallery (featuring eclectic one-offs and last-editions), or simply open your book and pause only to sip your ristretto.

The Fire Station WoodbridgeThe Fire Station, Woodbridge

Cosy Club, Ipswich

Located within Ipswich’s Buttermarket Shopping Centre, Cosy Club boasts an eccentric and quirky interior, with an eclectic fantasia of clashing styles furnished with vintage sofas, well-worn club chairs and mismatched dining tables - so you’re spoilt for choice for spots to get comfy and curl up with a good book.

There’s a variety of food on offer too; with brunch, sandwiches, burgers, tapas, mains and puddings, plus a refreshing selection for vegans and vegetarians as well as gluten free menus. So, you can pretty much stay and eat all day should you get really engrossed in your book!

Cosy Club in IpswichCosy Club, Ipswich

The Butt & Oyster, Pin Mill

Views don’t get much better than that at the Butt & Oyster in Pin Mill on the Shotley Peninsula - an historic hamlet and once a smugglers haven. Here you can snuggle up in front of an open fire and take in the sights of the River Orwell; watching the tide ebb and flow, and the fishing boats head out along the Estuary.

In year’s gone by, the pub was a rowdy drinking hole, packed full of bargemen and sailors enjoying a pint, and famous for being the setting of Arthur Ransome's novel ‘We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea”. Today, it’s the perfect escape for you and your book, along with a tasty ale or two!

Make sure you interrupt your reading to try some of the fresh fish that features on the menu; choose from fish stew, fritto misto (fish goujons, whitebait, crispy squid and tempura prawns, with chips, tomato and red onion salad and chilli sauce), crevettes, pan-seared scallops and smoked mackerel paté.

Butt and Oyster The Butt & Oyster, Pin Mill

The Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds

The 18th century Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds proudly boasts the four-poster bed once slept in by none other than Charles Dickens who went on to immortalise the hotel by name-checking it as a location within the novel ‘The Pickwick Papers.’

As Dickens found, the hotel is not just unforgettable, it's also difficult to miss - a large impressive ivy-clad building situated in the attractive open square of Angel Hill, with its exterior attired in pink flowered window boxes. Whether you're here for an overnighter, a spot of lunch, afternoon tea or even a spa package, keep your book close because there’ll be ample opportunity (and inspiration!) to spend time reading.

The Angel Hotel, Bury St EdmundsThe Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds

Southwold Pier

Bibliophiles who visit to unwind among the soothing sounds of the sea are likely to be found on the famous Edwardian Pier in the quintessentially English seaside town of Southwold. Always a popular tourist destination, in days gone by the town would see most visitors arrive by boat to Southwold Pier, which was originally built in 1900 as a landing stage for the steamships carrying the sightseers from London Bridge.

The pier’s charm is still in abundance today and whatever time of day you choose to visit, there are views across the bay of Southwold and the east coast and several places to stop, dawdle and enjoy your book; The Boardwalk Restaurant, The Beach Café or the The Clockhouse. The latter has been described as the place to unwind and, if you wish to visit, indulge in one of their delicious pastries, croissants or muffins - that's if you can tear yourself away from your book.

Southwold PierSouthwold Pier

Guat’s Up, Bury St Edmunds

A vibrant, independent café located on the cobbled streets of Bury St Edmunds, Guat’s Up loves to experiment with new coffees as well as serve their popular, star attraction; a cup of King Edmund, loved by locals and visitors alike.

They also offer loose leaf tea, a much-lauded decaf range and a menu that manages to be both crowd-pleasing and adventurous.The café can often get very busy so this is a book stop with a lively atmosphere and for those of you who don't mind a bit of background noise. If you drop by in the evening, you could opt for a cocktail or two to accompany your paperback.

Guat's Up Cafe Bury St EdmundsGuat's Up, Bury St Edmunds

Cult Café, Ipswich

Cult Café in Ipswich is a super-modern waterfront café serving great hot and cold drinks and continental food in a stylishly decorated setting. The café is situated on Ipswich quayside in the 10-storey, 4000 metre James Hehir building in Neptune Marina, and is a short 10 minute walk from the town centre, and a picturesque stroll from Ipswich railway station along the river.

The café offers home cooked, locally produced food with wonderful views of the docks, overlooking some pretty impressive boats. Relax and watch the world go by and spot large sailing vessels, Tall Ships and Royal Navy vessels, together with your regular boat trip along the River Orwell. Booklovers can settle in a riverside window armchair with their fiction in hand whilst the social hub of students and staff wander in and out for their takeaway drinks and light lunches.

Cult Cafe IpswichCult Café, Ipswich

Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

The sprawling historic Abbey Gardens in the market town of Bury St Edmunds are serene and tranquil, and a great setting to relax with a bestseller. We'd highly recommend a visit during the more clement months, especially during spring, as Abbey Gardens are a UK finalist in the Britain in Bloom RHS awards and frequent winner of Anglia in Bloom.

You can find the entrance at the Abbey precinct (as all visitors have entered since the 14th century!) which takes you through the impressive Great Gate, the Abbey’s best surviving feature.

The Abbey’s remains include the 14th century Great Gate and Norman Tower, and the developed gardens which were originally created in 1831. Over time, additions have included the Appleby Rose Garden, which boast over 400 roses, the Pilgrims Herb Garden, Sensory Garden, Water Garden and Aviary. Choose an historical read and travel back in time in more ways than one.

Abbey Gardens, Bury St EdmundsAbbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

Gainsborough Library, Ipswich

It doesn’t seem right to compile a list of reading spots without featuring a library!
For those who would like the opportunity to read their book surrounded by other countless reads; fiction, non-fiction and reference - take a trip to any one of Suffolk's 44 libraries.
One of our favourites (and most inspirational) is Gainsborough Library in Ipswich - a modern and fantastic community resource which includes a café, a meeting room and even a sound studio which can be hired!
If you’re here for only a few days, you can open an account as a visitor and take some books away for the weekend or overnight. You may even find that your visit coincides with a regular health and wellbeing event that the library hosts, which include Bujinkan martial arts, boxing fitness or Singing for the Soul sessions.
Best of all, you can arrive without a book and just pick one off the shelf, reading whatever takes your fancy or rifling the shelves for inspiration, or borrow an eReader if you can’t find enough choice among the thousands of books! A.A. Milne once said “Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there someday” - a great reminder of how important it is to unwind, relax and take a little 'me time', something book-lovers know all too well to be true; nourishing the soul by lounging and reading.

You may also like 'Have a literary themed holiday in Suffolk' or 'Arthur Ramsome's Suffolk

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