For any hotel to have a reputation for luxury and pampering which extends hundreds of miles beyond it’s location is an achievement which many hotels would like to have.
Slaley Hall at Hexham in Northumberland has achieved that proud boast and everyone I know seems to have stayed there, know of it, or know of friends who have stayed there. All have a high opinion of it. Therefore, it has a huge reputation to live up to.
The Hunting family of Northumberland made their fortune in the shipping business and built the hall between 1901 and 1910 in the Victorian baronial style, not unlike a small castle in appearance. It was originally a 3000 acre sporting estate and was well used by hunting parties.
In the aftermath of World War One, when the young male population of Britain was decimated, the hall became less popular and began a long period of decline. After World War Two the hall was sold privately and in 1985 sold again, this time to developers.
The original hall was added to on four sides to create a central courtyard, using similarly coloured stone for the extensions.
For me, the original Hall lost it’s external aesthetics, becoming dwarfed.
However, that is by the by. It is still impressive and kept to a visually attractive three storeys.
Now reduced to a mere 1000 acres of woodland and moorland, extensive landscaped gardens and a 149 acre championship standard golf course were created.
The lovely walk-through Japanese Gardens, built pre-1914, have survived and are a colourful haven over three seasons. These are in a small woodland gorge to the side of the hotel and seemingly unknown even to most of the staff as well as visitors. There is a temple, a water course with pools, bamboo groves and Acer trees. They are a delight on a sunny evening.
Thus the modern, four star hotel and resort, with the Old Hall at it’s centre, came into being.
Formerly owned by the DeVere Group, it is now in the portfolio of the Q Hotels Group.
It consists of 139 bedrooms in total, the Old Hall retaining seven luxury rooms with many grand Edwardian features, some rooms being extra spacious.
There are family rooms, some interconnecting, doubles and singles, including nine suites.
VIQ rooms are for those seeking a little extra luxury with upgraded décor and pampering touches.
Our room was very spacious, well maintained and decorated, with large beds and an en-suite bathroom. Perhaps some updating would be beneficial to bring it into the 2010’s, though there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. There are fluffy robes and slippers to use.
Scattered throughout the grounds are luxury wood and stone lodges, sleeping up to eight, which have state of the art sound systems amongst other upmarket installations. These may be leased on seasonal ownership terms.
No modern hotel would be complete without a Spa and the one here has a 20 metre pool with a children’s splash pool, slow-speed water chute, whirlpool, well equipped gym, sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room, and a juice bar as well as plentiful poolside loungers…Bliss!
There are comfortable and relaxing ESPA treatment rooms in this area.
There are even ‘Dual’ rooms for couples treatments – very romantic.
Staff here were welcoming and very professional. My full-body massage was sensationally relaxing.
The all important dining experience comes with a choice of three restaurants.
Hadrian’s Restaurant is the most popular and has modern British food in a spacious and comfortable room facing out onto the picturesque golf course.
Duke’s Grill is for formal dining with a menu at 3 courses for £45 whilst the Claret Jug is more of a Sports Bar catering for golfers in less formal surroundings with large-screen televisions tuned to sports events.
Afternoon tea is taken in the Edwardian Drawing Rooms and is a genteel, relaxing experience. The majority of the fresh produce used in all of the restaurants is Northumberland based.
The philosophy is to source suppliers within a fifteen mile radius of the Hall.
At breakfast, which we took in Hadrian’s Restaurant, we found continental and cooked breakfasts buffet style. Everything you could wish for and more if desired, in choosing individual items from the menu for table service. These were first class meals.
Unfortunately, our evening meal in the Claret Jug failed to live up to expectations.
Though not busy by any means, staff were slow, service was haphazard and we had to ask for assistance several times. The meal itself was not particularly good.
If a shredded lettuce leaf with a few prawns, a slice of bread and a frozen pat of butter is worth eight quid, my name is Hertz van Rental.
Similarly, the burger and chips failed to impress.
Any high street specialist burger restaurant does this far better and for four pounds less.
Dessert of chocolate brownie was hard and attracted complaints from other diners too.
At almost £60 for two three course meals without drinks, this was poor value.
Up the quality or lower the prices in here.
By complete and utter contrast, our evening meal in Hadrian’s Restaurant, and bafflingly for the same price, was superb. Brilliant and personal service, beautifully presented courses and excellent quality meals made this an occasion to remember.
Both the beef and the belly pork main courses were outstanding. So very good indeed.
Eat in this restaurant is my advice, just make a reservation in advance to ensure your table.
All of the staff we encountered were friendly and keen to be seen as such.
For those with an adventurous streak, many activities can be arranged at local venues. There is an adventure company within the grounds. These activities include golf of course, hunting, shooting, fishing, kayaking, quad biking, paintballing, walking,
4 x4 off-roading, Segway riding and archery among others. You just have to ask.
Within 8 miles are the Roman town of Corbridge, Hadrian’s Wall and Hexham Racecourse. The many historic attractions and superb, uncrowded sandy beaches of Northumberland, Bamburgh and Alnwick Castles, the holy island of Lindisfarne, as well as the bright lights of Newcastle, lie but a short drive away.
Further details may be found at “http://www.qhotels.co.uk/our-locations/slaley-hall/”:http://www.qhotels.co.uk/our-locations/slaley-hall/ so set the sat-nav to NE47 0BX for a taste of luxury.