No visit to Northumberland is complete without a trip to the welcoming town of Alnwick and its Norman castle. From Harry Potter inns to countryside spas, here are the finest places to stay in this northerly spot, all bookable with Culture Trip.
The pleasant market town of Alnwick is the ideal base from which to explore the underrated beauty of Northumberland. The town itself has its own star turns, including the 11th-century castle, the multimillion-pound, 42-acre public garden, and Barter Books, the best second-hand book shop in the region. On top of this, you’re only a few minutes drive away from the unblemished Northumberland coast. Not sure where to stay? Read on for our guide.
The unusual name comes with an unusual back story. This pub, once known as Ye Old Cross, is over 200 years old, with the building itself believed to have been built in the 17th century. The bottles in question lie sealed between two windows, untouched for two centuries due to an apparent curse. The last person to touch them was the original innkeeper, who immediately dropped dead. Thankfully, there’s nothing spooky about the four comfortable rooms, each named after the four 15th-century gates built to protect Alnwick from invading Scots.
This quaint and homely hotel on South Road is a 15-minute walk from Alnwick Castle and Garden. Rooms here include a double with four-poster bed, and a family room that can sleep up to four. You will certainly not go hungry – a hearty Northumbrian cooked breakfast is made to order, while the steak and Guinness pie is the pick of the dinners. There’s also a kids menu that includes local scampi.
There’s more than a subtle nod to Harry Potter at this pub hotel, just off the A1 on the outskirts of Alnwick. JK Rowling’s famous tale of wizardry was filmed at Alnwick Castle, and the owners here have savvily adopted the name of the Hogwarts tavern. Unfussy rooms include twin, family and accessible options, while the hotel is also dog-friendly. The large pub serves a breakfast buffet every morning – go for the Craster kippers on toast, topped with a poached egg.
As the name suggests, you’ll be within a cannonball throw of the castle at this Victorian townhouse. Expect a warm welcome from friendly owner Jo, who is happy to host you in one of three rooms – the family room sleeps up to three people. Breakfast and handy on-site parking are both included. Alnwick Garden – home to the largest wooden treehouse in the world – is just across the road.
This leafy 200-year-old estate lies between Alnwick Castle and the pristine beaches at Low Newton-by-the-Sea. Make sure to pay a visit to the coast, even if it is hard to wrench yourself away from the serenity of the hall’s 10-acre grounds. The spa is a particular draw with its heated swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and vegan-friendly treatments that include the intriguing “facial yoga”. Afterwards, dine on slow-cooked pork belly, drizzled with peanut sauce, at the two AA-rosette, on-site restaurant.
The continental breakfast buffet at EveAnna has been inspired by the globetrotting adventures of owner Darren, although the cheery host will happily knock up a full English should you prefer – while regaling you with tales of his travels. Rooms are classically styled, with Egyptian cotton sheets and complimentary snacks and drinks. On-street parking is free, whilst Alnwick Castle is just 10 minutes away on foot.
This Grade II-listed building comprises seven stylish and spacious rooms, all with king or super-king beds. Built for a Catholic family in the early 18th century, one room still features a priest’s hiding hole. The owners opt for a light touch approach – there’s no meals provided – but they do live just around the corner if required. Barter Books, just down the road, is perfect for a morning bacon sarnie and a cup of tea. Couples will appreciate the solitude that comes with the hotel’s no-children policy.
This former convent promises divine dining and an angelic night’s sleep. In terms of the latter, its 11 bedrooms range from cosy doubles to the cleverly renovated Chapel Suite, complete with original stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling. Treat yourself to afternoon tea – with a choice of champagne or gin – followed by a three-course dinner that includes a succulent venison wellington with dauphinoise potatoes.