Two thirds of the way along the 65 mile Northumberland Coastal Path walk, we were beginning to feel the strain and a cosy country overnight stay was on the cards.
Wandering into the Market Square of this small Northumberland village, we were struck by the typical English country hotel appearance of The Bluebell Hotel in Belford.
Situated between Berwick on Tweed and Alnwick, close to the coast and yet not too far from the A.1., this place is ideally located for further explorations of the surrounding castles and countryside.
The hotel is a low-slung, red-brick affair, dating back to the 1700’s, the frontage having blue painted detail and a large blue bell.
There are 28 en-suite rooms here, all reflecting some of the history of the building and the area and yet having modern touches, with a light and airy feel. All the rooms we visited were spotlessly clean and had all the modern accoutrements one would expect. Some rooms are in the adjacent old stable block. The outside paintwork and flower barrels need some attention here.
We were made very welcome immediately on our arrival by friendly staff. All we encountered were very pleasant and chatty. There were plenty of smiling staff.
Our appetites whetted by the long day’s walk, we were faced with a dining choice. The Garden Restaurant has more upmarket dining. It is a more formal area with polished wooden floors and offers a little more of a dining experience to go with the food. The windows look out onto a garden area, patio and the local stone built church. More tea Vicar?
Here, the chefs make use of local suppliers for meat, game, fish and cheese, supplemented by more exotic choices from around the world. Fine it is too.
With starters from £4 to just over £6, Mains from £10 to £13 and steaks £15 to £16, it won’t break the bank and is very good value for the quality served up.
It was to the bar that my fellow walkers homed in on however, the real ale on display offering a shorter walk from our table. Choices of real ales were limited and only Timothy Taylor’s was on offer at this time, but on great form.
Fridays brings a special offer, with a steak meal and all the trimmings accompanied by a glass of wine or beer or lager at £12.50. Superb value.
In the restaurant I had a warm black pudding and bacon salad of some size and good quality, followed by a chunky local fish pie which was cheese topped and delicious.
This is a popular venue for local weddings, being next to the village church. It has a large ballroom for events. This hotel is very popular with walkers and cyclists, being close to many well known routes to cater for both interests. There is secure storage for bikes.
Our breakfast the next morning was hearty and of good quality, all freshly prepared and served at the table. A refreshing change from buffet style. The friendly, cheeky waitress made our morning.
Free Wi-Fi is available in the main bar and lounge for technophiles.
Having had a great night we were reluctant to leave, but it is on the list for a return visit.
For further information go to “www.bluebellhotel.com”:http://www.bluebellhotel.com. It can be found at NE707NE if travelling by car.