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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Scrase

5 Star luxury in Southwold

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Andrew and Tiffany Doe spared no effort (or expense!) when it came to transforming a hidden historic gem in Southwold | Words: Rebecca Scrase, Suffolk Magazine

To look at the properties, you'd hardly think that Garden Lodge and its neighbour Mole End in Southwold could be transformed from the ugly ducklings they once were to the metaphorical swan they have most definitely become.

Both had been owned by brewers Adnams for some years. Garden Lodge, originally a flat hadn't been touched since the 1960s, while Mole End had been used as stabling and storage for decades. So long, in fact, there was still tack hanging inside and cobbles on the floor.

Enter new owners Tiffany and Andrew Doe who, with imagination, hard work and determination, transformed the properties into something worthy of a stellar rating.

"We bought the properties three years ago as we adore Southwold, coming here often for holidays and visits," says Tiffany, who has just returned to work after having her first child. "For us, it's our favourite place in Suffolk and we know that that's a truism for many others who come here year after year."

Their truly epic renovation project to create luxury holiday properties saw the buildings pared back to bare bricks and, according to Tiffany, there's literally not a single inch of the property which has been left untouched. The couple shared a vision for their project and the budget for a complete transformation.

"I'm a firm believer that if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well," says Tiffany. "Whilst my mother has often commented that I wanted a 'Champagne lifestyle on lemonade money', we're fortunate to now be in the position where we could create a property with the wow factor."

"We both wanted the property to offer something very high end, something aspirational," says Andrew. "As keen travellers ourselves, we always splashed out on five-star luxury when we went away.

"We wanted to be spoiled and it's this measurement which we used as a benchmark when renovating them both."

Tiffany agrees. "As a holiday let, a 'home from home' should be the absolute minimum you want to provide for guests, and we admit that at some point during the build we abandoned the budget completely. Budget, what budget?!"

Their ambition certainly shows in every aspect of the property, from the furnishings and decor to the fixtures and fittings.

Stand-out features include a DeVol kitchen with olive green cabinets, a £15K Miele range cooker with intelligent settings, Riedel glassware, Burleigh crockery, Wüsthof knives, Le Creuset cookware and Masterclass bakeware.

"For me, the litmus test of a kitchen's functionality is Christmas dinner," says Tiffany. "Can you make it, serve it, enjoy it and clear up afterwards as seamlessly as possible?"

Luxurious, stylish surroundings don't end at the kitchen. It's an overarching theme throughout. Most striking, perhaps, is the wooden panelling in the bedrooms and hallways, created by local craftsman Marcus Knight, who hand-made each piece.

It's this attention to detail and dedication to the handmade aesthetic which helps explain why the renovation project took over two years to complete and why it has earned a rare five-star Platinum rating from property inspectors.

Mole End bathroom

There are supremely stylish bathrooms courtesy of Perrin and Rowe, the Albion Bath company and Lefroy Brooks.

The bedrooms are furnished with Hypnos mattresses, the bed linen sourced from luxury hotel suppliers Richard Haworth, with velvet bedheads helping to create a boudoir vibe.

There's state of the art tech throughout, thanks to Andrew. As a founder of a tech company, he understands the importance of intelligent systems in modern homes. Residents at Garden Lodge and Mole End are able to control the temperature of each room individually.

Ditto the Sonos music system which allows them to listen to their own taste in music depending on the room they are in, and there's USB plus in every socket throughout both properties, so no need for that last-minute scramble to remember adaptors, and no teenage fighting over who gets priority when it comes to charging. Against this backdrop of 'we've thought of everything anyone could want or need,' it's challenging not to make the nods to style sound like an exhaustive, high-end shopping list. But getting these details right - Andrew and Tiffany spent four months working their way through the snag list before launching the property - makes all the difference to the end result. What's interesting about Garden Lodge and Mole End is that, while they are indulgent and lavish, the final aesthetic isn't brash. Rather, it's the opposite. The properties are not showy, there's no 'look-at-me' bling, but a collection of chic, quirky and sometimes humorous additions, such as the antler chandeliers in the Garden Lodge sitting room. I'm assured that no stags came to any harm. Nor is it a place where you'll find 'beach chic' - no rope lamps, wooden boats or seagull ornaments. Mole End, in fact, has been designed for a couple and styled to entice romantics, a place where people will want to get engaged. "What we've designed, we hope, is a year-round gem, somewhere that will be as attractive in winter as well as summer, much like Southwold as a destination itself. Quite simply, there's nowhere else like Southwold," says Tiffany.

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