The Hog’s Head Inn, Alnwick – Not just for the Harry Potter fans…

The Hog's Head Inn, Alnwick, NorthumberlandThis is a newly opened Inn just off the Alnwick by pass and an excellent base for Harry Potter fans wanting to visit Alnwick as well as the rest of Northumberland.

Named after the pub in the books, it bears no relationship to the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade and anyone expecting a replica of this will be disappointed, or relieved.

It is an attractive modern building with a mix of brick, stone and plaster, surrounded by a large car park which had been ploughed clear of snow. Paths were cleared and salted and there was level access to all of the ground floor.

We had warm welcome from reception next to the large bar and even larger dining area. In January it was very quiet with few residents or locals.

We had a large and very pleasant room at the end of a long corridor on the first floor. There was a lift and corridors were wide and easy to negotiate. Even though the room heater had been turned on that morning the room still felt cold, a reflection of the outside temperatures although it had warmed up by bedtime. The well stocked welcome tray with biscuits soon warmed and cheered us up.

It was a pleasant room with pale magnolia walls with a darker beige wall above the bed. As in all modern rooms lighting left a lot to be desired so we appreciated the small reading light on the beside lamp. We had a very comfortable king size bed with crisp white bedding and plenty of pillows.  A large dressing table doubled up as a work surface with a flat screen Tv above it. Wi-fi was available in the room but was very slow, possibly as we were at the end of the corridor. There was a single easy chair beside a small occasional table.

The Hog's Head Inn, Alnwick, NorthumberlandIron and ironing board were provided as well as a small safe. This was on the floor so you needed to get on hands and knees to use it.

The shower room had a large walk in shower with a good jet of hot water, but the tile floor was cold on the feet.

Facing the A1, there was a certain amount of traffic noise. Light sleepers might want to ask for a room facing the other way.

The dinner menu was basic pub grub with a few rather more exotic items on it, with more on the specials board.

There was a choice of two real ales, Tyneside Blonde from the Hadrian and Border Brewery is the house ale but we decided to settle on guest beer, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.

For starters, Michael chose bacon, mushroom and stilton bake  which was served on a toasted bap with salad garnish. I couldn’t resist the haggis with tatties and neeps and fortunately it wasn’t too large.

For the mains, Michael agonised between steak, scampi or steak and ale pie, eventually settling on the latter. It was a large slab of pie with a dense meaty filling served with chips and seasonal vegetables. In fact it was a bit too meaty with little gravy to moisten it and he had to ask for extra gravy.

After great deliberation I chose the Burradoo Farm lamb loin sourced from a farm near Morpeth. There were two thick slices of delicous lamb served on herby potato with braised cabbage with just enough tartness to make it interesting.

The Hog's Head Inn, Alnwick, NorthumberlandThe full English breakfast was a tasty and huge plateful of local Alnwick sausage, bacon, sauté potatoes, baked beans, mushroom, tomato and eggs, which lasted us all the way home.

In the winter months the hotel offers a bargain £44.50 per person dinner, bed and breakfast deal for one night or a three night DB&B break for £119.50 per person. In summer the price is £80+ for a double room which includes the full English breakfast, still a good deal compared with places like Premier Inn.

We enjoyed our stay and definitely recommend the Hog’s Head. It is an excellent position to explore Northumberland and also makes an excellent break of journey for those on their way to or fromScotland.

It is a short distance from Alnwick itself so you would need to drive and park there.

Apart from its Harry Potter connections, Alnwick is a pleasant old fashioned market town which has managed to keep a wide range of locally owned shops – where else could you buy a specially made saddle? Alnwick Castle is well worth a visit, even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, as are the award winning gardens.

Warkworth, NorthumberlandA short distance away is Warkworth with its magnificent ruined castle at one end of the village and church at the other end with the medieval fortified bridge. In summer, don’t miss the boat trip to the Hermitage, a 14thC chapel cut out of the rock above the River Coquet.

Visit Rothbury with its connections to Lord Armstrong, the Tyneside millionaire engineer, who built Cragside, the first house in the country to be lit by hyrdoelectricity.

The delightful ruins of Brinkburn Priory receive few visitors as do the ruins of Edlingham Castle.

Newcastle is less than an hour's drive. The Roman Wall is a bit further but easily do-able as a day trip from Alnwick.

Seahouses for boat trips to the Farne Islands is a 30minute drive, and a bit further north is Lindisfarne reached by Tidal causeway.

For those wanting to walk there are the Coquet and Ingham Valleys and the Simonsides, as well as Hadrian’s Wall. Keilder Water and Forest are about 90minutes drive and have some excellent short way marked walks as well as the fascinating Birds of Prey Centre at Leaplish.

The Hog's Head Inn
Alnwick, Northumberland
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