Newcastle – brash, lively, party city, hen do's, stag do's, the notorious Bigg Market drinking scene, these are just some of the preconceptions about this famous Tyneside city. No getting away from it, Geordies do like a good time and they welcome visitors as they do their own to the rich nightlife that it has in abundance. It has, as with any other city, much more to offer than hedonism, for there is a rich cultural history to the place and much of it has been preserved for posterity, some right in the centre.
As far back as AD120, when the Romans built the first bridge over the Tyne there has been a settlement here. At first a small fort and village, the population grew as two years later construction began on the 80 mile long Hadrian's wall between Wallsend and the Solway Firth. Original parts of the wall and turrets still stand in Newcastle and the modern day Hadrian's Wall Path walking trail, which I have had the privilege to complete, starts alongside the Tyne in the city centre to follow the original line of the wall. There are superb remains and well preserved forts along the entire length. The middle three days of this five/six day walk are simply stunning and pass through magnificently wild countryside.
After the Romans left, various invaders took control, from the Anglo-Saxons to Danes to the Normans. It was only after the Norman invasion that the town became known as Newcastle. It was the nineteenth century that really saw huge developments, with shipbuilding and heavy engineering dominating. Robert Stevenson built a combined road and rail bridge and together with his father George, established the World's first locomotive factory. It was here that the steam engine Rocket was designed and built. City status was granted in 1862 and led to further prosperity.
The modern riverside frontage is a tribute to current architectural thinking with a broad paved boulevard leading to many restaurants, bars and attractions. The armadillo-like shell of the Sage building on the opposite bank of the Tyne in Gateshead adds to the futuristic feel, as does the spectacular Millennium tilting bridge, the only such bridge in the World. So much then to see and visit, but where to stay?
The Newcastle Marriott Gosforth Park, a modern hotel delightfully situated in twelve acres of parkland just to the north of Newcastle centre and only fifteen minutes drive from the Quays area, is an admirable choice. It is adjacent to Newcastle racecourse and is strategically placed for the A1 too. Boasting four stars, with 173 rooms, it has all the modern amenities one would expect, including a kidney shaped swimming pool, spa, sauna, steam room, solarium, Jacuzzi, gym, business facilities and even a hairdressers shop. As something of a Spa fan and not averse to a little pampering myself, I was dying to make acquaintance with the facilities. The light and airy pool, Jacuzzi and gym all face onto woodland for a relaxed feeling. The well equipped gym boasts modern Star Trac cardio stations which, except for the rowing machines, have touch screen controls, individual air-flows, television and iPod docks built into each piece of equipment. Weights and resistance stations are plentiful too. The steam room and sauna have adjacent cold showers and a cold plunge pool, which certainly wakes you up quickly! Brrrrrrrr.
There are fitness trails through the parkland to work off the superb restaurant meals.
My room was spacious and decorated in a modern style. It was comfortable and spotlessly clean with all the usual complimentary items that befits a four star hotel. The bed was one of the most comfortable I have ever slept in. Housekeeping had better check that it's still there after I leave.
Taken in 'The Plate' formal dining restaurant, dinners are of excellent quality, fresh vegetables abound and the mains menu offers something for everyone. Choices vary daily. Fresh coffee or tea and mints follow each meal. The waiting staff are a happy and efficient bunch and ever amenable.
Breakfasts are also taken here but this time, in the form of a hot or cold buffet. There is a good variety of juices, fruit, cereals, yoghurts, pastries, meats, cheeses and bread for a healthier start to the day, whilst trenchermen (and women) like me have a large selection of good quality traditional cooked items to choose from.
As a less formal alternative, Chats cafe bar is off the main reception area and bar meals can be enjoyed here. It is a relaxing place with dark leather sofas and chairs. In the evenings tables are candle-lit to provide a chilled-out ambience. This is aided by monthly bar offers, which, on my visit, were Guinness and Boddingtons at £2 a pint. Bargain! Such a refreshing change from usually high hotel bar prices.
There is a free WiFi system operational in all public areas of the hotel.
With so many attractions on the doorstep including wonderful beaches, magnificent castles, National Trust properties, Lindisfarne, the Farne Islands and so much more, this area of Newcastle is an ideal place to base your stay and The Marriott an ideal venue.
For further information and to book, visit website.
For National Trust tours, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Just Go! Holidays