Written by Gemma Hall
HotelsThe Cookie Jar 12 Bailiffgate, Alnwick NE66 1LU; 01665 510465; www.cookiejaralnwick.com. This former convent, a short stroll from Alnwick Castle entrance, was recently converted into what is now considered to be one of the premier small hotels in the region. Indeed, the Sunday Times awarded it the ‘best place to stay in the North’ in 2018. Lavish, elegant furnishings and deep-blue walls and fabrics throughout place The Cookie Jar firmly in the category of designer boutique hotel; every armchair, cushion and wall decoration has been expertly placed by the hand of an interior designer. High prices for doubles (averaging around £200 per night) reflect the superior standard of comfort and extras. As for the restaurant, which has earned a very good local reputation, all the dishes are crafted using lots of local ingredients. One fully wheelchair-accessible room (Goswick). Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel Embleton NE66 3UN; 01665 576111; www.dunstanburghcastlehotel.co.uk. With few hotels worthy of note in the area, the Dunstanburgh ranks as one of the better ones, owing to its location in a pleasant village set back from the shores of one of the finest beaches in Northumberland. The rooms, while not particularly distinctive, are modern, comfortable and clean. Vegetarians take note of the restaurant menu which features an array of non-meat dishes. The Lord Crewe Hotel Front St, Bamburgh NE69 7BL; 01668 214243; www.lord-crewe.co.uk. Under the gaze of one of the most arresting coastal castles in England is this contemporary hotel and restaurant in the village centre with modern, average-priced rooms.
B&BsBertram’s 19 Bridge St, Warkworth NE65 0XB; 01665 798070; www.bertrams.co.uk. One of the newest B&Bs in the centre of Warkworth doubles as a very popular café/restaurant, serving excellent breakfasts and lunches made with plenty of local ingredients sourced from along the coast. The rooms upstairs, while not huge, are freshly decorated (with floral feature walls and original artwork), modern and clean. Budle Hall Bamburgh NE69 7AJ; 01668 214297; https://budlehall.com. One mile outside of the historic village of Bamburgh is this rather grand Georgian mansion set in wooded grounds with farmland views all around. Large oil paintings line the broad staircase and hallway, and antiques feature throughout the house. Upstairs, rooms are huge with high ceilings and traditional English-country-house décor. Breakfasts include local cuts of meat, fish and condiments and are served on one long dining table where guests sit together. This is no boutique hotel, however, and you’ll find prices are only just above average. Courtyard Gardens 10 Prudhoe St, Alnwick NE66 1UW; 01665 603393; http://courtyardgarden-alnwick.com. Best for a romantic treat. The owners (who are antiques magpies) have transformed this Gold Award Georgian townhouse close to the centre of Alnwick into a period-style B&B. The two rooms at the top of a lofty stairwell are furnished with heavy, opulent fabrics and both have stripped floors and feature antiques. Price wise they are not that much more expensive than an average guesthouse, at around £90 for a double. Fairfield House 16 Station Rd, Warkworth NE65 0XP; 01665 714455; http://fairfield-guesthouse.com. When friends ask me to recommend a special, traditionally styled place to stay on the coast, this grand Victorian house on a peaceful residential road and close to a pristine sandy beach is one that often comes to mind. Garden lovers will enjoy the well-kept grounds, framed by mature trees, and the delightful conservatory and terrace soaked in sunshine. Inside, the corridors and four rooms are spotless, and all have period details, solid furniture and luxury extras. For breakfast, you’ll find Craster kippers and Turnbull’s sausages of Bamburgh on the menu. Prices for this Gold Award guesthouse are only a little higher than average. For a long stay, you may want to consider the self-catering garden apartment. Glororum Bamburgh NE69 7AW; 01668 214132. Expect a very friendly welcome from Susie on arrival at this highly recommended, large stone farmhouse B&B a mile outside of Bamburgh. The four rooms upstairs (around £100 for a double) are all immaculate, unfussy and have a freshness that comes with being well cared for and thoroughly cleaned. Foodies will have spotted the ‘Produced in Northumberland’ sticker in the entrance: the breakfasts (porridge served with cream and syrup, for example) are certainly worthy of note and include local ingredients and little extras that tell you this is a rather special, above-average B&B. Cyclists on the coastal route, which passes the driveway to Glororum, can use the secure cycle storage in the grounds. Greycroft Croft Pl, Alnwick NE66 1XU; 01665 602127; http://greycroftalnwick.co.uk. Tucked away on a residential street close to Alnwick town centre is this exceptionally friendly, above-average-priced Gold Award B&B with six modern suites (each with a shower room) – all immaculate, uncluttered and pleasantly styled. A bright breakfast conservatory opens on to a walled garden, and there’s a cosy guest lounge where you can enjoy a complimentary glass of Lindisfarne mead. The breakfast menu is a fine spread with options for vegan and gluten-free diets. Eggs are served eight different ways, which should tell you this is no ordinary B&B; it ranks as one of the very best in Alnwick. No children under 14. Northumberland Arms The Peth, West Thirston, Felton NE65 9EE; 01670 787370; http://northumberlandarms-felton.co.uk. Felton is not exactly on the tourist trail, but its location close to the A1 and coast, and quaint old-stone streets lining a wooded stretch of the River Coquet, ought to make this village a very attractive option for visitors (and those walking St Oswald’s Way long-distance trail). Its appeal is enhanced by the Northumbrian Arms which is instantly recognisable as an upmarket gastro pub. Suites are best described as contemporary with a subtle country-heritage theme. Professional interior decorators have clearly been at work here. For extras like bath robes, padded curtains, luxury furnishings and spacious bathrooms with centrally placed bath tubs, expect to pay above average prices (between £140 and £200 for a double). A sister hotel operates in Chatton, should you be heading into the national park. The Old Post Office 32 Castle St, Warkworth NE65 0UL; 01665 711341/07828 485375; http://warkwortholdpostoffice.co.uk. Four snug, upstairs rooms in an 18th-century former post office on the main street. The best thing about staying here is the food – both breakfast and evening meals – which are all home-made by the owner. ‘Almost everything on your plate is locally produced’, she told me. Northumbrian griddle cakes with creamed goat’s cheese, honey and pancetta is one of her signature breakfast dishes. Book ahead for evening meals (Friday and Saturday nights only) as everyone in the village knows the food here is probably the best in town and there are only eight tables. Prices are a little above average. The Old Rectory Howick Howick NE66 3LE; 01665 577590; http://oldrectoryhowick.co.uk. Dating to the mid 18th century, this secluded, detached B&B, a short stroll from the coastal path and some of the finest sands in Northumberland, is also ideally situated for visiting Howick Hall gardens. There is country-house décor throughout the five rooms. Top Northumbrian breakfast and friendly hosts. Ravenslaw House South Rd, Alnwick NE66 2NZ; 07826 909742; http://ravenslawhouse.com. The former home of Victorian fishing legend William Hardy is now an opulently styled – and imposing – guesthouse, a short walk from Alnwick town centre. Period features throughout, four-poster beds in every room and plush furnishings make this luxury (and therefore pricey) accommodation an appealing romantic getaway. No children. Redfoot Lea Alnwick. Since the guide went to print, this B&B has now closed. Red Lion 22 Northumberland St, Alnmouth NE66 2RJ; 01665 830584; http://www.redlionalnmouth.com. Clean, modern rooms above a cosy freehouse inn on Alnmouth’s main street. The pub serves very good dinners and has a large garden with river views. Prices are above average. Roxbro House 5 Castle Terrace, Warkworth NE65 0UP; 01665 711416; www.roxbrohouse.co.uk. Crouching below Warkworth Castle at the entrance to the village is this extra-special B&B in a large, stone-built house dating to the late 19th century. This is one of the most characterful and luxury B&Bs in the area, but it’s not outrageously expensive to stay here (around £130 a night for a double). Inside, the fires burn even in August to welcome guests coming in from the rain-soaked streets. Thick, opulent fabrics in deep reds compliment the antique wooden furniture. Suites are similarly decorated, with heritage fabrics and polished antiques. Guests can enjoy one of two cosy front rooms. The breakfast room is immaculately laid out with gleaming linen and bone china, from which to enjoy local bread and kippers from Craster. St Aidans Hotel 1 St Aidan’s, Seahouses NE68 7SR; 01665 720355; http://staidanhotel.co.uk. Fresh, modern rooms in an above-average-priced B&B facing the sea, with views of Bamburgh Castle. Located on the edge of Seahouses, so quieter than in the town centre. There’s also a good restaurant with plenty to satisfy seafood lovers. St Cuthbert’s House 192 Main St, Seahouses NE68 7UB; 01665 720456; www.stcuthbertshouse.com. Light sleepers take note of the deep full-length blackout curtains and plush sprung mattresses (no expense spared here) in this exceptionally comfortable B&B on the outskirts of Seahouses – a former chapel. Make sure you book in advance, however, as many seasoned visitors to the coast know that this is one of the very best places to stay and has twice been awarded the best B&B in England. Prices are above average (£140 for a double) but the standard of accommodation is far higher than most. For breakfast, the friendly owners go that extra mile to ensure that almost everything on your plate is sourced locally, including fish from the smokehouse down the road and homemade marmalade. Wheelchair accessible. St Valery 27 Northumberland St, Alnmouth NE66 2RA; 01665 833123; www.stvaleryalnmouth.com. King-sized beds come as standard in this sophisticated B&B on Alnmouth’s main street. Original fireplaces and patterned rugs over wooden floors offset the modern furnishings beautifully. This was one of the cleanest B&Bs I visited on my travels. The Sunningdale 21–3 Lucker Rd, Bamburgh NE69 7BS; 01668 214334; www.sunningdale-hotel.com. Straight-forward, mid-range B&B (doubles £90–£120) at the top of the village with spacious family rooms and wheelchair-accessible suites.
Self-cateringReputable holiday cottage companies in the area include Grace Darling Holidays, Coastal Retreats Northumberland, Coquet Cottages (www.coquetcottages.co.uk) and Outchester and Ross Farm Cottages, near Waren Mill (all with wheelchairaccessible options). Also consider the four- and five-star holiday cottages on Springhill Farm (www.springhill-farm.co.uk) near Seahouses. Hunting Hall Beal (near Lindisfarne) TD15 2TP; 01289 388652; https://huntinghall.co.uk. I was greeted by three geese upon arriving at this large 18th-century farm a short drive from Lindisfarne. For families looking for a countryside base with lots of free space for children to run around in and farm animals to visit, Hunting Hall’s two average-priced holiday cottages are ideal. There’s also a ford where children can go ‘fishing’. Historically, the collection of farm buildings are very interesting and include an old smithy and unusual hen house with niches in the stone work. The two Gold Award cottages – and modern shepherd’s hut in a meadow – are very nicely decorated. They’re homely with a country touch (floral fabrics, pine furniture, the odd exposed stone wall, etc), the kitchens are very well equipped and both cottages have direct access to pretty gardens. Wood-burning fires and feather duvets ensure guests stay warm. The owners are committed environmentalists and strive to make the buildings eco-friendly (with solar panels, green paints and organic bed linen). At the end of the stay, a record is made of how much electricity your party used and the group that used the least over the year wins a prize. A welcome hamper includes homemade bread, local honey and rare-breed sausages from the farm. Lindisfarne Bay Cottages West of Fenwick on the shores of Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (NNR); 07565 891795; www.lindisfarnebaycottages.co.uk. The Mill House is a gem of a holiday cottage with expansive views across the bird-filled saltmarshes to Lindisfarne island. I stayed here a few years ago and could have spent most of the morning watching huge flocks of wading birds feeding and taking to the air – all from the window of this exceptional cottage (feather duvets, heavy curtains, original artworks, the odd antique and a kitchen better equipped than most homes) with four rooms. Waking up to the sound of the wind in the trees and curlews and geese flying overhead was a wonderfully soothing start to the day. Birdwatchers or those looking for a tranquil escape will love it here. It’s not cheap (expect to pay close to £2,000 a week in the high season) but the accommodation is superb. Wheelchair accessible. North Farm Cottages Embleton NE66 3DX; 07775 000039; http://northfarmcottages.co.uk. Set in farmland a short walk from the pleasant village of Embleton (and with direct access to one of Northumberland’s finest bays by following a footpath across a few fields) is this collection of ten stone self-catering cottages and four apartments created from old farm buildings. Inside they are all modern and spacious and cater well for families with a playground and new indoor swimming pool on site. Expect to pay above average prices. Some cottages are wheelchair accessible. Rock Mill Holiday Homes Rock Mill Farm, near Embleton NE66 3HA; 01665 579218; rockmillholidayhomes.co.uk. With farmland views all around, families will love these three stone cottages between Alnwick and Embleton (three miles from the beach). Rock Mill Cottage has a country-farmhouse interior whereas Croft Cottage and Newton Retreat are more modern. It costs much less to stay here than for similarly appointed cottages closer to the sea, with prices starting below £500 for a week. Springhill Farm near Seahouses (see below) Waterside Cottages Waterside, Alnmouth NE66 3QL; 07801 447482; www.watersidealnmouth.co.uk. Within ten minutes’ walk of gorgeously soft sands (South Beach) and with direct views over Alnmouth estuary (from Estuary View and Beach View cottages) is this run of three modern self-catering cottages. To reach Alnmouth, which is on the other side of the estuary, you need to either cycle along the coast path or drive (five minutes). Wheelchair accessible.
Campsites, wigwams and bunkhousesConsidering how many beautiful bays are cut into Northumberland’s shores, you’d think that somewhere there would be a secluded, independent campsite with a divine view of the sea, but there’s not really, except at Cresswell (see Calico Barn), and camping in the sensitive dunes is forbidden. If you are a member of the Camping and Caravanning Club there are a few options within easy reach of a beach including Annstead Farm (see below) between Beadnell and Seahouses. Non-members wishing to camp hereabouts should try Beadnell Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site (see below). Annstead Farm Beadnell NE67 5BT; 01665 720387; www.annsteadfarm.co.uk. This working arable and livestock farm close to the coast between Beadnell and Seahouses operates two small camping/caravan areas, including one for adults only in an enclosed garden; the other is a simple grassy site more suitable for families but without play areas. Holiday cottages are also available to rent. The Barn at Beal Beal Farm, near Lindisfarne, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 2PB; 01289 540044; http://barnatbeal.com. Not somewhere you’d come for a camping holiday but a very useful place to pitch up for a night if travelling along the coast, situated as it is within easy reach of the A1 and Lindisfarne. The site itself is a small, grassy area next to the car park of a very good bistro with glorious views of Lindisfarne island and its castle. Open all year round. Beadnell Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site Beadnell NE67 5BX; 01665 720586; www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/beadnellbay. The coast road prevents a hop, skip and jump into the sea, but this is one of the closest sites to a beautiful sandy bay in the region. It’s quite exposed – just a large, flat grassy site in farmland – so bring sturdy tent pegs! Non-members pay an additional fee. Calico Barn & Hemscott Hill Farm camping Cresswell/Druridge Bay NE61 5EQ; 01670 458118; www.tractorsandtents.com. Probably the best, low-key campsite on the Northumberland coast. The friendly owner only takes a handful of campers at a time to allow for a huge amount of space between pitches. You can also hire a beach cabin which sleeps two to four people. But the reason you will really want to stay here is for the direct access to a glorious sandy bay, reached in a few paces by crossing the dunes. Over the road in the other direction is a large cow shed – now a cavernous bar where drinkers sit on hay bales covered in throws. Also here is a bunkhouse which sleeps 18 in five rooms. Bunks made from old scaffolding boards have been recycled to good effect and are very comfortable, with soft duvets and helpful extras like mobile-phone USB points next to every bed. The communal area is really like a very good guest-house lounge with a wood burner, sofa and well-equipped, clean kitchen. Joiners Shop Bunkhouse Chathill NE67 5ES; 01665 589245/07745 373729; http://bunkhousenorthumberland.co.uk. Shabby (in a good way) old stone building close to Preston Tower and four miles from the sea; cheap and great for groups of muddy walkers (though open to lone travellers, too). Large dining table, curtained-off bunk beds and cosy living room with an open fire and slouchy sofas. Pot-a-Doodle Do Wigwam Village Borewell, Scremerston, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 2RJ; 01289 307107; https://potadoodledo.com. Aimed primarily at families with plenty to keep children happy including pottery painting and an outdoor playground. The beach is also close by. Pine wigwam-style huts (and three yurts) are snug and basic (you’ll need to bring all your own bedding) but they do come equipped with outdoor fire pits and picnic benches. There’s a shop and licensed bistro on site and a communal kitchen. Proctor’s Stead Dunstan, near Craster NE66 3TF; 01665 576613; http://proctorsstead.co.uk. Set back a mile from the sea in a fairly sheltered farmland spot and close to the popular fishing village of Craster; open to touring caravans only. Springhill Farm West of Seahouses NE68 7UR; 01665 721820; www.springhill-farm.co.uk. Springhill Farm offers a range of accommodation including a number of very good holiday cottages, a modern bunkhouse, pine wigwams and grassy pitches for tents and caravans – all located in farmland half a mile from the coast and in sight of the sea. Tewart Arms Cottage Camping & Caravan Site near Chathill NE67 5JP; 01665 589286. Rustic campsite (read: basic, quiet and small) for tents and caravans, four miles west of Seahouses and close to the station with connections to Berwick and Newcastle.
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