We were recently invited to stay at Langley Castle Hotel tucked away in the beautiful Northumbrian countryside. So, on the premise that I could be a Princess for a night I jumped at the chance – read on to discover whether this north-east England hotel and restaurant gets the royal stamp of TLE approval.
I could write a book if I was to go into all the fascinating details of the history of the barony of Langley, however I’ll keep it brief and leave it to your own curiosity to find out more should you wish to do so (the perfect excuse to pay the Castle a visit yourself!)
The castle was built in 1350 and is set in its own ten-acre woodland estate and one of (and there are many!) the most impressive features is the 7ft thick stone walls that still stand strong today.
After centuries of change in ownership, through battle victories, losses and Royal seizure ship and different uses (from a Castle to a girls’ school to a medieval banquet hall to a private dwelling) the castle was bought in 1882 by Sheriff of Northumberland Cadwallader John Bates. He was also a linguist, traveller and local historian and to which much of the reconstruction of the Castle we see today can be attributed to. His grand plans and research had to be completed by his wife, Josephine, as he tragically died before his grand plans came to final fruition. The gravestones of the couple still stand tall in the woodland across from the entrance of the Castle.
More recently, in 1985, Professor Stuart Madnick of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology acquired the estate and after many careful renovations, which have considerately maintained many of the historical features, the castle and estate is now befitting of a luxury hotel and restaurant.
The tagline on the brochure states ‘14th century splendour’ and this statement cannot be disputed as we drive up the winding road way which leads to the imposing castle building. The sun is shining and it appears even more majestic as the flag stands tall from the castle turret.
The grounds are well kept and a water feature adorns the turning circle in the castle car park.
It is impossible to enter reception without standing for a few moments to take in the grandeur of the building. We are about to sleep in a REAL castle!!
Entrance to reception is through a solid oak medieval door where we are greeted by two knights – standing proud in full armoury. We are later informed that these two are replicas, however the knight who stands by the drawing room is an original. My little boy (4 years old) is beside himself with excitement!
Check in was quick easy, very friendly with all the useful information about our stay provided. An offer of someone to take our luggage for us was made and we were handed a heavy key to our room and taken up the staircase which, although not an original feature was still over 130 years old, to our room. We would be staying in the Greenwich Room and was located on the fourth floor (five floors in total) of the castle.
The Greenwich Room is named after the governors of the Royal Hospital for Seaman in Greenwich. The hotel was gifted to the hospital by the crown after it was seized from the Radcliffe family in 1749.
There are nine guest rooms within the Castle and an additional 18 rooms within the grounds. The Greenwich Room is a feature room and what a room it is! The magnificent super king-size four-poster bed dominates the room which is full of character but the elevated window seat, set in the 7ft stone walls, overlooking the grounds really steals the show.
Just past the bed, a small corridor leads to a walk-in wardrobe and dressing room area and huge bathroom with a large bath and separate rain shower. As in the bedroom the windows within the stone walls are a real feature.
The décor is traditional with an entirely appropriate medieval feel, some parts look a little bit tired but the overall charm and character shines through.
The usual facilities expected in a four-star hotel are provided and if it hadn’t been such a glorious day outside I could have easily snuggled in this room all day.
The grounds of the castle are well maintained and it is worth exploring. You’ll find peacocks strutting their stuff, a little beck, ancient trees home to lots of wildlife and the grave stones of Cadwallader John Bates and his devoted wife Josephine.
An ornate summer-house and some wooden benches placed to catch the sun sit are located throughout the grounds for those wishing to take in the fresh country air.
There is even a set of stocks to add to the medieval feel – so be sure to be on your best behaviour!
The Castle is a popular choice for weddings so it has a big function room on the top floor and its surrounding lodges make it a great choice for group occasions or even exclusive use.
The Drawing Room is a stunning room filled with ornate furniture, heavy curtains and art works from every century and pictures of the restoration, paying homage to the fascinating story this castle has to tell. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a coffee (or something stronger!) browse the morning papers or read up on the local history. We even played dominoes (we’d taken them ourselves) whilst we enjoyed our pre-dinner drink.
The bar is small and set just off the drawing room, you could take a seat at the bar but I’d recommend making use of the beautiful drawing room.
There are three dining options at the Castle; The Pavilion, The Drawing Room and The Josephine Restaurant.
The Pavilion is a contemporary glass extension to the main restaurant and is an ideal setting for private dining for up to 30 guests.
The Drawing Room serves a more relaxed menu; think sandwiches, light(er) bites and Afternoon Tea. I did spy some ladies enjoying an Afternoon Tea whilst we were there and it looked very good indeed!
The Josephine Restaurant is the more formal dining option and a two AA Rosette restaurant, serving a Table D’hôte Menu (£44.95 pp for three courses) Taster Menu (from £65pp) and Sunday Lunch. The menu is seasonal so changes throughout the year.
We chose from the menu whilst enjoying a drink in the Drawing Room and when our table was ready (at the time we specified) we were escorted to our table in The Josephine Restaurant, although this was the more formal restaurant we still felt very comfortable with our four-year-old wee man in tow and the staff were professional but not pretentious in anyway and made us feel very welcome.
The restaurant room itself is very traditional and décor reflects the medieval feel of the castle but the food was highly contemporary and far exceeded expectations. A choice of warm bread was freshly sliced for us before we were presented with a delicious appetizer. In a timely fashion, each course was beautifully presented; we both opted for hand-dived scallops served with glazed pork belly, pickled white grapes and curried cauliflower to start.
I then chose roast loin of lamb, crisp lamb shoulder served with basil Gnocchi, smoked aubergine puree and roast fennel. The description really doesn’t do the dish justice. It was absolutely delicious and far more adventurous flavours than I expected. My husband chose the 8oz fillet steak which was served with chunky hand cut chips, grilled mushroom, confit tomato and béarnaise sauce – all cooked to perfection and again beautifully presented.
And for dessert crepe suzette, flambéed at the table and dark chocolate and orange delice were the orders of the day.
The children’s menu presented a good selection and the quality of the ingredients was just as good as the Table d’Hôte dishes.
Portion sizes weren’t huge but perfectly measured and deceptively filling. The fresh flavours and high quality of the food was highly evident in each course.
There was a good drinks menu and the wine selection was extensive. The team were knowledgeable and able to recommend wines to complement our dishes.
The Josephine Restaurant is not only popular with guests but with foodies and locals alike and after our own experience it is clear to see why.
Breakfast was also served in this restaurant and comprised of a cold buffet with a good selection of pastries, fresh bread, fruits, meats and salmon (I LOVED the spiced syrupy apricots and homemade granola) and the hot breakfast options; full English Breakfast, kippers, porridge, eggs were of equalling quality of the dinner we’d enjoyed the night before.
Each morning a knowledgeable guide takes guests on a tour of the Castle providing great details of the history and showing features such as the Port Coleus, Murder Hole, explaining why the doors are so small (back in the day the average height of a man was 5ft 4 and why the staircases spiral in one way – to give a fighting advantage in defence against the attacking enemy. The tour also takes guests to the roof top where views right across to Hadrian’s Wall and across to locations where scenes from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves was filmed. The tour takes approx. 45 mins but is well worth it and even our little boy remained fascinated for the duration.
Awarded North East Hotel of the Year 2018, Langley Castle Hotel is a charming place full of history, beauty and character. It has a welcoming ambience, service is very good and food exceptional. It’s the ideal place for a romantic night away or for a group gathering and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here.
Room rates vary so please visit the website or click below for more information
Address: Langley Castle Hotel, Langley, Hexham NE47 5LU
Phone: 01434 688888