I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Wynyard Hall is not a hotel that I’d been itching to try out. We’d visited about five years ago to attend the Living North Christmas Fayre and I just didn’t really take to it. It just felt a bit gloomy and there didn’t seem much to it apart from the lounge area and restaurant with small bar. But I had heard and read good things about the hotel and have been keen to visit the newly redeveloped Rose Garden, so we decided to give it a go after spotting a fantastic deal for an overnight stay with breakfast, 3 course dinner plus chilled bottle of Prosecco and chocolate dipped strawberries in your room on arrival. What’s not to love about that, so the deal was purchased and the room was booked (from www.itison.com) .
We decided to treat this as a late Valentines break so opted to upgrade to a Lake View room – The Hambletonian – for a little extra. We felt it was definitely worth it when we walked into the room. The room was roomy, light and welcoming with extremely high ceilings and traditional furnishings topped off with a beautiful, but not overly ornate, chandelier.
There was a lovely view from the tall window over the lake and surrounding countryside. The bed and bedding were extremely comfortable although the mattress was a bit ‘bouncy’ as I found out when I went to bed (If I rolled toward the edge I felt I’d spring out onto the floor!) The bathroom was a more modern affair with a rainfall shower over the bath, large mirror and divine toiletries from Temple Spa which, got a big thumbs up from Ron too. http://www.templespa.com/about-us
As is usual with me and Ron, once we checked out the room we headed off to explore and it was a this point I realised that one of my suspicions five years ago was correct, there isn’t really much else to the main building of this hotel apart from the restaurant, bar and lounge as the spa, event marquee and ornamental gardens are all short distance from the main building. However, this time we noticed the beauty of the hotel interior in a way we couldn’t on our previous visit. I suspect this was due to no events being hosted and we’d arrived when Afternoon Tea was over. You can see and sense the history in the building and yes, it is still quite dark but that is in keeping with the original purpose of the hall and the interior design and furnishings are enhanced with subtle lighting, candles and stunning floral arrangements. Most notable is the sheer amount of decorative marble and stained glass throughout (one of which looked strangely like a Jukebox).
In 1987 the estate was bought by Sir John Hall, a property developer and former owner of Newcastle United FC who embarked on a multimillion pound renovation programme to restore the hall and estate. A further investment saw his daughter Allison turn the hall into the county house hotel it is now. To read more about the history of Wynyard Hall here:
A stroll around the grounds led us on to the terrace which would be a lovely place to sit and while away time with a drink in better weather. The hotel has its own chapel and the function room is right next to this, a peep inside the windows showed a room partially decorated in an elaborate style ahead of some celebration. It certainly is a gorgeous setting for any event.
The peace and quiet of the hotel and our room made for a relaxing afternoon enjoying our chilled Prosecco and chocolate dipped strawberries along with a few of our own drinkies and choccie treats in the form of Vodka and coke, lager shandies, Payne’s chocolate brazils and Cadburys giant chocolate buttons…what? These classics beat the so called ‘luxury’ brand chocolate hands down for us!
We were so relaxed in fact that we could have easily forgone the meal and stayed in the room in the cocoon of our fluffy robes, however, that would have been the lazy option, so at 7.30 we took our table in the Wellington restaurant. This grand room features marble and imposing paintings hinting at the decadence of earlier life in the hall. The room was lit beautifully, striking the right balance between intimate and practical i.e. enabling you to read the menu without resorting to using the table candle or torch on your smartphone (my usual method). Most of the tables were occupied which provided a pleasant atmosphere without being noisy.
The service was extremely friendly and attentive without being overbearing (you know, like when you reach to refill your wine glass and POW! someone appears out of nowhere snatching the bottle from your grasp to do it for you…personally that’s not my thing). We were offered the A la Carte and Brasserie menus to peruse and on enquiring which we could choose from with our deal, the header waiter advised he was happy for us to choose from either menu, which was a nice touch as some dinner inclusive deals usually have restrictions.
The meal itself was absolutely delicious and akin to Nouvelle Cuisine in presentation and portion size, which is just as well when you got a stash of chocolate lying in wait to whisper to you, like a siren…I’m over here, I’m delectable, eat me…eat me!! The experience was only let down slightly by the overall time spent in the restaurant – 2 hours 15 minutes – now I don’t like to be rushed between courses however, the timings here were too long.
The peace and quiet of the location is evident as you lie in the sumptuous cloud of the comfortable bedding and pillows and notice the silence. This meant we drifted off in no time and woke to that lovely feeling of having no rush to go anywhere and just prop up on the marshmallow cushions to read the paper or one of the many magazines supplied in the room.
Breakfast again was quite a slow affair compared to most hotels I’ve stayed in so it could be that they were understaffed on this occasion however, that didn’t detract from a lovely breakfast with enough hot and cold options to satisfy. On a warmer day it would be lovely to sit out on the lake facing terrace with a cuppa reading the papers.
On check out we decided to visit the recently opened Rose Garden followed by a walk as suggested by the concierge, who also advised that entry to the garden was free at the moment as the roses are not yet blooming. The Rose Garden, the realisation of a boyhood dream for Sir John Hall, was designed by award-winning landscape architect Alistair Baldwin and currently contains over 3000 roses of differing varieties.
It is beautifully designed and exceeded our expectations even though the roses are not yet blooming and immediately we knew we’d like to return to see the roses in all their colourful, scented glory. The garden is set out in a series of terraced areas of contrasting design with waterfalls and fountains which mix traditional and modern features to great effect.
There’s also a farm shop and café stocking a fantastic selection of products ranging from foodie items to gifts and decorative interior buys and the staff I chatted to were very friendly and polite.
The café looks fantastic both inside and out with lovely views over the gardens and I’m sure it will prove to be a popular spot on a day out. Now, I would have loved to have tried something from the café but bearing in mind I‘d just had breakfast and it’s not long until my next holiday, I reluctantly abstained.
There is also a Marquee which is accessed through the gardens via a pergola walkway which will make for a grand entrance to any event.
Find out more about the garden and the Sir John Halls boyhood dream here:http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/pictures-wynyard-hall-rose-garden-9717287
Our stay was rounded off with a shorter walk along one of the paths that skirt the river passing through woodland, which wasn’t too exciting but helped to blow away the cobwebs and stretch our legs for a while. We spotted a few rabbits and had been told you can occasionally spot other wildlife including some of the deer on the estate. There are longer walks available taking you more off the beaten track. As is the case with a one night break, we headed of home wondering where the time had gone. All in all we had the relaxing retreat we’d wanted and I can’t wait to come back to see and smell the roses.
Bye for now. June xx
labels: uk breaks, hotels, spa, Wynyard Hall, traveljems