The ‘Best’ Best Western Hotel, County Durham – well the ‘Best’ I have visited so far!
‘Bobby Shafto went to sea silver buckles on his knee’ – well, I am not sure if Robert Shafto did go to sea as the nursery rhyme says, but he was a Tory Member of Parliament for the County of Durham in 1760, and used the ‘Bonny Bobby Shafto’ title for electioneering purposes. Whitworth Hall near Spennymoor, County Durham was his family seat, set in its own Deer Park, it is now one of the Best Western chain of hotels and is well worth a visit.
We had a little difficulty finding the hotel as the address is Brancepeth, near Spennymoor, but once we had, we were not disappointed. The long sweeping driveway takes you past an ornamental/ fishing lake that has a fountain spouting into the air. The lake is used for fishing and is free if you are staying at the hotel and is also used by the local people of the area. The sight of the roaming fallow deer is amazing, as they tamely let visitors walk around the grounds and watch you with big interested eyes, possibly hoping to be fed and feed can be bought at reception. The large statue of Bobby Shafto stands high and proud in the gardens over looking his house and grounds.
The Grade 11 listed house is beautiful and interesting, the reception and staff are warm and welcoming, the bistro restaurant and bar are comfortable and reasonably priced. The Library restaurant is the oldest part of the house and is beautiful for special occasions, the hotel does have facilities for weddings and conferences. The staircase that leads up to the first floor landing is like walking into an art gallery, with paintings decorating the walls and a ceiling that Michaelangelo would have been proud of – well not that good, but pretty impressive!
Our bedroom was excellent and had two windows overlooking the deer park, large and comfortable with very good ensuite facilities as you would expect in a hotel of this standard. I was informed that all the rooms are of good standard, but a view over the deer park is worth the extra cost.
The area around Brancepeth is lovely and it is only 8 miles from Durham City Centre, it is an ideal hotel to explore the area and still have the peace and tranquillity of the countryside, ask at the hotel for directions to the Park and Ride facility that is ideal for getting into Durham, which will save you time and money when parking in this delightful city. Go to the Cathedral it is stunning, walk by the river or take a boat ride this area has a lot to offer.
Other interesting attractions are the Brancepeth Golf Course is only 2 miles away, an excellent golf course with welcoming patrons and club professional. The Beamish Open Air Museum depicts life from the 1800 to the 20th century, it is brought to life with actors in period costume. Ride the train, go on the bus, even go down a drift mine, history comes to life and it is interesting for all the family to visit, a Senior ticket is £13.50.
The area around the hotel is well worth exploring, not only the deer park and the lake, but go around the grounds and find the Summer House and the walk to the small beautiful church that the Shafto family would walk to, the family crypt is below the grounds of the church where Robert Shafto is buried, the area around this walk is being developed and will be an added attraction to the already beautiful grounds.
We stayed for two nights at Whitworth Hall, but could have stayed and relaxed for much longer, I am not sure how long Bobby Shafto spent away from this lovely area but coming home to Whitworth Hall must have filled him with pride and pleasure, I would certainly love to visit this hotel again.
Best Western Whitworth Hall Hotel
Whitworth Hall Country Park
Spennymoor, County Durham