After a long drive up the M1 motorway to Durham – where we would be spending a week exploring the surrounding area and the many attractions it has to offer with This Is Durham – we were looking forward to settling into our accommodation to relax and unwind… Unfortunately, as soon as we turned into the drive leading up to the impressive country house that is Beamish Hall Hotel, and the kids saw the vast open space and parkland surrounding it, we knew it would be impossible to just stay put in our room – our mini-adventurers were desperate to stretch their legs and run about. And who could blame them after such a long journey?
Beamish Hall Hotel
A family-owned business, Beamish Hall Hotel is full of character – it was once a 13th-century manor house. Beamish Hall Manor as it was then known as was a wedding gift to celebrate the union between Isabella de la Leigh and Guiscard de Charron, who were both given the land as a thank you for helping William the Conqueror successfully invade England. And over the years, it has transformed and extended to the current 18th-century building, which has 44 bedrooms as well as one apartment.
There have been reports of mysterious sightings of ghosts in the Great Hall and in various rooms of children dancing and a woman in a grey dress standing picking flowers in the gardens. I’m glad to say we didn’t come face-to-face with any of them but I mention these spooky tales to give you some understanding of what historic splendour Beamish Hall Hotel is engulfed in.
Beamish Hall Hotel is also a hugely popular wedding venue and it’s easy to understand why. The estate is picture perfect, with over 24 acres of land, the manor house is a Grade II listed building and provides the perfect setting for any special occasion. As a guest, it did at times feel like we were the Lord and Lady of our own manor.
Beamish Hall Hotel is situated in the town of Stanley and is only a 20-minute drive to Durham city centre and only half an hour away from Newcastle and Sunderland. We found it to be a great base to explore Durham from the Dales to the coast, our longest drive was only around an hour.
Plus, if you’re looking to visit Beamish Open Air Museum, then it is just next door! After spending a whole day there it was lovely just being able to get back to the hotel in a matter of minutes.
When a family of four have to sleep together, it can be disappointing when there’s barely any room to swing a proverbial cat. No such drama here. Our home for the next four nights was one of Beamish Hall Hotel’s ‘feature rooms’ – Lily – and it is just as you’d imagine a country house hotel room to be.
With an extra fold out bed and cot, we still had plenty of space. The white crisp linen against the Rococo-esque King sized bed with several plump cushions made for an eye-catching centrepiece. And the kids were only too happy to run, jump, bounce and roll on it. So much for the chic facade staying intact…
Meanwhile, the provincial French-style furniture added elegance from the pretty dressing table to the opulent sofa – there were plenty of touches that added to the room’s subtle wow-factor. Including the three huge bay windows which looked right out onto the green fields below, and bathed us in natural daylight.
What I loved the most though was the fully tiled bathroom which housed a stunning roll-top bath, a large double shower and his-and-her sinks. I just wished I got the opportunity to really relax in there – but maybe next time…
With complimentary wi-fi, mineral water, tea and coffee, as well as fluffy white robes, the only thing that was missing were some slippers, and perhaps a chest of drawers to organise some clothes. And while I was at first concerned about the noise from the lobby below (as we were situated right on the landing of the main staircase), the soundproofing is good and we could barely hear anything outside of our room.
Food and drink
Breakfast is served in the Eden Room in what used to be the old family library. It is vast, bright, with a high ceiling, traditionally decorated and also serves as a tearoom in the afternoon for guests to enjoy sweet treats. While not to my decorative tastes, it was a comfortable dining area and at no point during our stay did we feel hemmed in or too close to any of the other guests. Which, I find in busy hotels, can be slightly off-putting over your eggs in the morning. There is a small selection of fruit, cereals, yoghurts and pastries, as well as a cooked breakfast made to order. I managed to resist the temptation to have a full English every day, which was hard, as the organic farm sausages were a big hit with the whole family!
On a couple of occasions, we chose not to have dinner on site, however, that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy our two meals at Beamish Hall Hotel’s restaurant Stables. Not only is it convenient for guests as Stables is just behind the hotel, but it also has a wide choice of food and drink offering, and a good children’s menu, too. British pub grub staples including fish and chips, gravy-soaked roast dinners, mouth-watering burgers, and unctuous sticky toffee puddings – all of which were tried and tested by the Dalton family…
Although we didn’t get a chance to have a tour, the Stables also has a microbrewery which produces eight premium ales which are served straight from keg to pump and supplied to selected local businesses. My husband was pretty taken with a few…
Things To Do
Without a doubt, the Beamish Hall Hotel is a harbinger of peace and quiet. Although the hotel has a vast array of conference rooms and wedding suites and regularly hosts music concerts and seasonal events for Halloween and Christmas, for instance, there isn’t a great deal to do in the hotel itself. There weren’t drinks available (aside from the Stables) or a reading area apart from the reception/lobby which is extremely brightly lit and not a relaxing space to be able to hang around in or have a chat, as we discovered at night while the kids were sleeping.
Head outside, however, and it’s a completely different story. With so many places to discover, from the tree swing to the play area, which our kids loved, to the Treetop adventure course and archery lessons – Beamish Wild really caters to active families. We were a little disappointed to discover that their Adventure Woodland had closed for the season – but the interactive Alice in Wonderland themed walk and play environment sounded right up our street.
There is no denying that Beamish Hall Hotel is a spectacular building set in the most beautiful of grounds. The room, too, was our oasis after a hard day of exploration in Durham and I appreciated the thought and effort that had gone into making it one of the hotel’s feature rooms. It was rather special. At one point all of us were snuggled up in the huge bed watching Cbeebies together.
What stood out for us most was the warm hospitality we received from all the staff in both the Eden Room and Stables restaurant. They were friendly, helpful and lovely to the children. Location was key, too and we found it easy to be able to explore the County without any trouble.
Alongside its creaky floors and traditional interiors, there is a distinctive charm about Beamish Hall Hotel – and if you’re looking for a short respite from the din of everyday life, then this is a great place to recharge.
* Disclosure: This post is a paid collaboration with This Is Durham who arranged our stay at Beamish Hall Hotel and the cost of one meal at The Stables Restaurant as part of a five-day trip. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.