What do you want when you sneak off for a couple of days away? A small city steeped in history, beautiful country waiting beyond, a welcoming hotel with attractive bedrooms and excellent food? The Northgate – recently renovated from top to toe – offers all that and more. It’s small and sits 500 metres from Abbey Gardens, the crown jewel of medieval Bury St Edmunds. Inside, the welcome is as warm as the water that pours from your power shower. Downstairs, the cocktail bar doubles as a sitting room, doors open onto a terrace for lunch in the sun, a well-kept garden waits beyond. Bedrooms above have a contemporary country-house feel: cool colours, smart wood furniture, pretty throws on beds that come with cool bedheads. Bathrooms are just as good: some have walk-in showers, two have freestanding baths in the room, all are excellent. As for the food, it’s on tap all day: breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, then a delicious dinner, perhaps mackerel with apple and parsnip, rump of mutton with water chestnuts, an irresistible banana soufflé. Cambridge and Newmarket are close.