Anne-Claire Heels visits a five-star inn that's a great stop off en-route to the stunning Northumberland coast
WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
In a handsome Edwardian building that was once the admin block for a now-demolished hospital, St Mary’s is an AA five-star inn with a cosy bar, restaurant, private dining room, function room and 11 bedrooms. It’s a popular spot with locals (new houses have been built on the former hospital grounds) as well as visitors, with friendly staff offering a warm welcome to families and dogs, making for a lively atmosphere. Settle in by the fire with a jigsaw puzzle and a pint of St Mary’s Ale from Northumberland’s Rigg & Furrow Brewery, or have drinks outdoors in the evening sun.
WHAT ARE THE ROOMS LIKE?
Spacious, airy and bright. The pretty Derwent room has an en-suite bathroom with a freestanding bath, there’s also an accessible bedroom with a wet room and extra space, and one of the dog-friendly rooms has an outside terrace (and the pub will provide bedding and a bowl). Some can be configured to twin rooms, and extra folding beds and cots can be arranged for family groups.
ANY LUXURIOUS TOUCHES?
Big comfy wrought-iron beds with colourful throws, flat-screen TVs, bottled water in the rooms as well as tea/coffee, large fluffy towels, toiletries from The White Company.
BEST SEA VIEW?
There are no sea views here but as a stop-off point en route to the Northumberland coast if you’re coming from the south, this is a handy option. It’s just off the A1, and only a short drive from either Newcastle railway station or airport. If you have time, you can pay your respects to famous suffragette Emily Davison as you continue north – her final resting place is in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin in Morpeth. And the coast itself is around a 20-minute drive.
HOW ABOUT THE FOOD?
St Mary’s Inn offers what it calls ‘honest pub food with style’ and aims to use local produce as much as possible. We opted for a hearty dish of braised beef shin with horseradish mash, bacon, mushroom, onion and savoy cabbage, and a tasty baked herb-crusted Skrei cod with smoked haddock fish cake, spinach, capers, parsley and beurre blanc, respectively. After that, there was just about room to share some lovely light tiramisu and shortbread biscuits. Breakfast was of an equally high standard – plenty of choice – and the generous full English and delicious French toast with roasted peach, maple syrup and crispy pancetta that we each devoured really hit the spot. There’s a good-value children’s menu too, and if you do have a dog they can dine with you in some areas of the bar.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
Standard or deluxe bedrooms are priced from £90-£140 per night on a B&B basis. Book on 01670 293293 or go to stmarysinn.co.uk.
Check out more coastal guides and places to stay by the sea here.