Wild it may be, but these singular, stylish stays set this far-flung county in northern England on a collision course with some of the trendiest cities in the world.
Film-set castles crumbling onto expansive, empty beaches; sunrise hikes along Roman walls; snug, stone-clad inns with roaring fires to hunker down in afterwards – Northumberland may just be the most underrated county in England. Fringing the border with Scotland and a spectacular, blustery stretch of coast, it’s rich with ancient trails and storied market towns. Most seductive of all are its scattering of contemporary boutique hotels, often set within historic walls. Discover the best below – all bookable with Culture Trip.
Something of an institution in these parts, the Lord Crewe dates to the 12th century, when it served as the abbot’s house at Blanchland Abbey. Today it’s a huddle of deliciously decorated country inn rooms (categorised as cosy, canny and champion) with tartan throws, wood burners and Farrow & Ball shades of sage green, custard yellow and navy blue. Don’t miss an atmospheric drink in the cavernous, medieval-vibes Crypt Bar.
This Grade II-listed inn is in pint-sized, charming Beadnell village, trimmed by the soft, pale-gold sands of Beadnell Bay. In summer, this is the place to surf, kitesurf, sail or even scuba dive, plus here you get to retreat to lovingly designed gastropub luxury: all polished stone walls, William Morris prints, tweedy chairs, and retro phones and clocks.
There’s a moody, gothic spin to the sumptuous interiors of this boutique hotel: ornately carved bed posts and Havisham-esque chandeliers, freestanding copper bathtubs and midnight-blue walls. But it’s actually a cosy, welcoming little base, dog-friendly and foodie in mindset, housed in a coaching inn on the eastern fringe of Northumberland National Park. Breakfast is French-style pancakes or a must-try crepe monsieur with local ham, cheddar and eggs.
If you’re thinking Northumberland is a weird place to find a château, well, you’d be right – yet somehow this stylish stay just works. This whimsical pile, in the riverside village of Otterburn, is part manor house, part strawberry-pink gingerbread cottage. The tropical-feel gardens and handsome conservatory have been created with weddings in mind, but holidaymakers are just as welcome in the 25 designer rooms, which wow with exposed-brick walls, Spanish-style tiling, copper bathtubs, jungly murals and burnished golden bed frames.
The cute name of this B&B belies the luxurious, sexy interiors. Richly textured in ocean blues, biscuit and cream, they feature strikingly different printed headboards, nature-inspired art, thick open-weave woollen throws and cloudlike Hypnos mattresses. Most showstopping is the Chapel Suite, where arched ceilings and stained glass windows will have you saying a prayer of thanks. Downstairs is a chic blue-and-white bistro with a generous outdoor terrace – make sure you pop in for a heavenly afternoon tea.
There’s an old-fashioned charm to this country inn in the riverside village of Wark, just to the southeast of Northumberland National Park and an hour’s drive to the coast. Wood beams, tartan rugs and apple-green chesterfields cosy up the pub and restaurant, while smart and modern rooms sleep between two and four. Great-value family rooms also have a double, plus bunk beds. Nearby is the lovely market town of Hexham and bracing hikes into the national park.
An affordable little base in suburban Ashington, a 15-minute drive from the Northumberland coast, the Portland has a welcoming bar and kitchen annexed by 12 smart rooms. It’s not winning any interior design awards, but everything is comfy, contemporary and efficiently run by a friendly team. Hang out in the convivial bar, where families tuck into roast dinners around the centrepiece of a huge, fairy-lit indoor tree.
In blustery, wildlife-speckled Alnmouth, a great base for bracing coastal walks and picturesque seaside lunches, the Whittling House has a bar so chic it wouldn’t look out of place in the trendiest cities in the world. Perch by the crackling log fire for a fine wine, then totter off to your glam digs: some with industrial-styled tiled showers, and others sporting nautical blue panelling and vintage travel posters. Harry Potter fans, take note: the nearby Alnwick Castle starred as Hogwarts in the movies and often holds events for Potterheads.
Also in chocolate-box Alnmouth, this cutesy inn – trimmed with hanging baskets of geraniums and potted shrubs – loves seafood. From hulking beer-battered fish to more delicate platters of lobster, crab or smoked salmon, you’ll have to dine here several times to get the full picture. Rooms are light and modern, in earthy, sandy tones. With just eight of them, there’s an intimate feel and guests often get chatting by the bar.
Set in Alnwick, almost next door to the famous castle, the Dirty Bottles has been a public house since the 1600s, but was bought and revamped in the mid 2010s. Just four lavish, exclusive-feeling rooms come in jewel-coloured tones with boldly designed bed frames and flock wallpaper. Downstairs, a cosy joint serves pub classics and smoky barbecue fare. Ask for the ghost story behind the name – it’s a cracker.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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