It’s not often we spend a good 15 minutes photographing our hotel room before we even put down our bags, but that’s exactly what happened when my partner and I opened the doors to our room at Le Petit Château.
I’ll admit, we were spoiled with The ‘L’ Apartment. It is one chic suite. Anyone who’s stayed – or been married – here will tell you the same. It turns out, it’s the room in which lucky bridal quads primp, preen and lay their heads before the big day at this romantic retreat in Otterburn – and it’s every bit as luxurious as you’d expect.
One of the venue’s 29 boutique bedrooms and suites, it’s a large, open-plan space, filled with shabby-chic decor and Pinterest-worthy interiors and textiles. Colours are deliciously moody; deep olive-green walls, mink rugs and floaty curtains, exposed red brickwork, scuffed fireplaces and sandy stone flooring. A large velvet sofa takes pride of place in the living area, a vibrant shade of electric turquoise.
Twinkling chandeliers and an abundance of mismatched floor lights, with vintage lampshades, provide the low, hazy light. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors are dotted around, giving the illusion of even more space.
The bathrooms (there are two) have a distinct Moroccan feel, with their deep, ruby red walls, rustic copper sinks and taps. The shower room was our favourite, quite simply for the mesmerising, floor-to-ceiling mosaic stone tiles. Tiles we loved so much, that we couldn’t leave without asking whereabouts the designers’ purchased them from.
The master bedroom is somewhere in between snug and grand. We took great pleasure retiring to our four-poster bed after dinner, happily sinking in to plush, marshmallow-like duvets and snuggling down on crisp white sheets, with full bellies and a bit of late-night telly. And in the morning, sitting down at the long, elegant dressing table (no doubt the designated bridesmaid station) made getting ready feel like a less laborious, more luxurious task. It gave the room that French boudoir feel.
Luxe little extras (which we took full advantage of and scoffed at first sight) include complimentary Netflix, which you can watch on two flatscreen TVs, a bottle of prosecco on ice and a box of chocolates on arrival, warm fluffy towels at the ready, presented in a neat wooden crate, and two generous hampers filled with a feast of goodies, including artisan tea and coffee, hot chocolate and buttery shortbread, and fresh water. Simple pleasures that turn a good stay into a great one.
After freshening up and taking what felt like a thousand photos of our prized abode, we migrated a whole twenty-something steps next door to William De Percy Inn & Crêperie for a spot of dinner.
This glam gastropub boasts the same good looks as Le Petit Château; think reclaimed floorboards and cool-toned stone flooring, terracotta brickwork, twinkling chandeliers, and gleaming copper accents.
The lighting is low and soft and upholstery is a trendy mix of leather and wood. It’s a classy joint, but there’s no pretension in the air or real formality when it comes to dining. The vibe is infectiously laid-back – great for couples, like us, who were looking to kick-back and unwind after travelling from afar.
Like any good village inn, it’s home to an extensive range of craft beers and ales from breweries all over the country, as well as a well-stocked cellar of house and fine wines, and a short, but sophisticated, cocktail menu. A beer and a small glass of red did us nicely.
Its food offering, meanwhile, goes above and beyond your typical pub grub; it’s hearty, but sophisticated, beautifully-presented with local produce at the heart. The team have solid bonds with nearby home-growers, raisers and catchers and do a great and gutsy job of showing off the rewards of their hard work.
You don’t have to be a guest to dine here – you can stop by for light bites and lunchy eats, Sunday roasts or even just a crêpe or two (which are always freshly-made), but on this occasion we settled down for three courses each.
Starters combined spot-on portions with big, punchy flavour. Ours was the Eldson goats cheese panncotta; a cool, creamy dome joined by a heaped spoonful of tomato and onion jam and dainty crostinis, brushed with fragrant basil oil, for dunking.
While the cheese wasn’t as strong as we’d anticipated, the sticky, tart jam added plenty of lip-smacking flavour. The two flavours married together perfectly, resulting in sweet and creamy mouthfuls, while the crunchy crostinis added bite and a delicious cheesy hum.
Our other half chose the tempura king prawns – four plump and fluffy beauties encased in a crispy, golden batter – on a bed of delicate, noodle-like Asian slaw and chilli sauce. A does-what-it-says-on-the-tin dish done really well. Big, fat, fresh prawns – is there anything better?
The fish theme continued into mains; for them, good old fish and chips, and for us, pan-fried seabass. The locally-caught cod arrived tender and flaky – as long and as thick as our forearm. Make sure you have an appetite if you’re ordering this beauty.
The light, bubbly batter was done really well – not at all oily – as were the herby mushy peas, chunky, chips and tartar sauce – all homemade. A faultless plate.
The seabass was also a winner; two bone-free fillets with crispy, easy-to-remove skin, joined by fresh Chinese-style cabbage and veg, drizzled in a refreshing lemongrass and ginger dressing.
We somehow managed to sneak in two desserts before we retired to our room for plenty of food-induced kip; a slice of dark, deliciously rich, chocolate ganache tart and a doorstop-sized wedge of homemade sticky toffee pudding, drenched in a smooth and silky butterscotch sauce. Talk about weekend indulgence.
Safe to say, we slept like a pair of spoilt, well-fed babies and there was something very satisfying indeed knowing that we’d be returning the next morning for brekkie.
When we did, we were greeted with the same smiles and warm service we’d received the night before, along with a few treats from the small continental buffet.
Two ‘morning shots’ (essentially an energy-boosting yogurt with fresh berries) kicked things off nicely – a nice touch we thought – before we sat down to a full English, bursting with local Northumbrian goodness, and a plate of smoked salmon, creamy scrambled eggs and fresh fruit. Both hit the spot.
Checking-out was bittersweet. Taking some time out to admire the rest of our surroundings, such as Le Petit Château’s enchanting French Chapel ceremony room, with its crystal chandelier and giant marble fireplace, and grand Château Ballroom and palm tree-fringed views, reminded us of what a unique, whimsical wedding venue this really is. No wonder so many North East brides and grooms-to-be have fallen – and continue to fall – in love with the place.
And as far as hotel stays go, we really couldn’t fault our time spent here. Kudos to the staff, chefs and those sneaky talented interior designers who have now made us want to go out and buy copious amounts of Moroccan-style tiles and fill our home with copper sinks. Together, they’ve created a stylish slice of affordable luxury that everyone can indulge in, whether you’re walking down the aisle or simply tucking in for the night.