16 Dec, 2014
Last Sunday evening Mike and I were invited to review a brand new “Inn”, a sister Bar/Gastropub/B&B to Jesmond Dene House, called St Mary’s Inn. It is based in rural Northumberland, around 15 to 20 minutes North of Newcastle, just before the A1 becomes a single carriageway – yes, my friends of the South, shocking as this is (and it IS shocking!!), this actually happens at a couple of points between Morpeth and Edinburgh!
I digress…so for a special date night, Mike and I were able to try out all that St Mary’s Inn has to offer in the shape of dinner, bed and breakfast. Complete with a much needed lie in!
Main Entrance to St Mary’s Inn
St Mary’s Inn – Arrival
Mike and I arrived at St Mary’s Inn at around 5:30pm. We were warmly welcomed (both in temperature and greeting) with drinks at the bar while we checked in. Surely that has to be the best way to check in?? Mike quickly ensconced himself in the paper while he enjoyed one of the local ales and I made use of the free wifi – some date night!
The Bar and restaurant seemed huge but as it was divided into lots of little areas, most of which had a wood burning stove, none of the intimacy was lost, and from where we were sat we got caught up in people (and dog!) watching, and eavesdropping on country life, Christmas chatter and people catching up with each other (everything Mike basically wants from life in the future…perhaps we should be moving North instead of West!), for a place that has only been open a matter of weeks, it seems to have been quickly embraced by the locals. A sure sign of early success.
St Mary’s Inn – Bedroom
A glass of wine down and I was ready to check in to our “bedroom” (a little indication of the hospitality of St Mary’s Inn – they want you to feel welcome and at home), which was named Catcleugh, after the Northumberland Reservoir. In fact each room is named after a similar Northumbrian landmark and even the artwork up the stairs very firmly nods to the vast and incredibly beautiful Northumberland landscape.
Bedroom Corridor and Northumberland Inspired Artwork
The bedroom itself was exactly as described on the website: “Light and airy, with big windows and soft carpets, they’re uncluttered and comfortable.”
Simple but lovely to be in. I could imagine reading by the window for hours and being really happy! Or more likely working/writing/tweeting at the table – but still being happy!
The Catcleugh Bedroom – St Mary’s Inn
The bed is HIGH! Reuben would need a step ladder to get up there! It has the same sumptuous bed linen as Jesmond Dene House, making for an extremely comfortable sleep. There is unique artwork, including a huge aztec-style feature above the bed, and lovely reclaimed vintage furniture to compliment the room whilst keeping to the minimalist style.
The bathroom is clean and fresh and simple, again with the same luxury towels and toiletries that you would find at Jesmond Dene House.
St Mary’s Inn – Dinner
Once I had got myself acquainted with the room and freshened up a wee bit, it was time for our dinner date!
This was the first time I realised what a warren St Mary’s Inn is! Walking past the main entrance and bar, there were numerous nooks and crannies to get comfy by a fire, plus a number of larger dinning areas.
We were lead down a fetching corridor (it really is tastefully decorated, both in terms of artwork and furniture, with an attention to detail in every aspect of this large space) to one of these dinning areas and was seated by a wood burning stove. Despite, or perhaps because of, so much space they have been able to create intimate dinning for both large and smaller groups.
Happily in-situ, we settled in for our 3-course meal, and being a Sunday, that meant Sunday Roast was on the cards.
You’ll see if you go to the St Mary’s Inn website that food is a huge part of the personality of the place – generous portions with an emphasis on Northumbrian flavours. They buy locally and even grow some of their own!
For starters Mike had Northumberland game terrine and toasted sourdough and I had the Smoked mackerel pate, pickles and rye crackers. Traditional, simple and really rather delicious!
After that we both chose a roast; I had the Roast Pork Belly and Mike chose the Braised Lamb Shoulder. They both came with a roast potatoes, mashed neeps, buttered greens, honey roast carrots and parsnips, yorkshire pudding and gravy. There was so much food on this one plate I really didn’t need the other two courses! But we really enjoyed it, the Belly Pork was juicy with (mostly) great crackling and the Lamb was melt in your mouth but I’d say the over all star of the show was the roast potatoes. Blinking delicious and it pained me to not manage them all!!
Finally, despite the fact we were full to burst we went for desserts! Mike had his favourite, sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and I went for the Christmas pudding and Brandy sauce. It felt wrong not to. It was so rich! But a lovely way to finish off our meal.
Then we rolled on up to bed for a FULL nights sleep with no interruptions from Reuben (he’s been favouring coming up to our room anytime from 3am for the last month. Bit of a killer!).
St Mary’s Inn – Breakfast
The next day we woke up when we fancied, checked on the kids – Reuben had slept from 7 until 7, of course – then mozied on down for a leisurely breakfast. And the fire was already lit.
You could have a continental breakfast, which looked really great…
…but Mike and I both went for cooked – well, we were starving! Obviously not the case but with Eggs Benedict and Poached Egg on Avocado and toast, we couldn’t resist!
Then we were homeward and office bound – but what a great way to start the week.
St Mary’s Inn – Conclusion
So that, in a nutshell, was our visit to St Mary’s Inn. I did love it. It was everything I would expect from the people behind Jesmond Dene House and more. All the things I would expect, such as a warm welcome, and beautiful attention to detail in the furnishings and artwork, have been exported. But, rather than trying to recreate Jesmond Dene House in the countryside, this very much takes on the personality of the place – it isn’t a boutique hotel, not to say it isn’t luxurious in its own way, and it isn’t trying to be either. It is an Inn. With the emphasis on hospitality, fine local foods and country living. And I feel that the bedrooms resonate this message too. In the heart of beautiful countryside, I can see this place doing really well with both locals and tourists alike!
What do you think of St Mary’s Inn? Do you fancy a trip?!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this review: anything you loved or you’d like to know or you wished I had included, etc! Please do leave your feedback in the comments below. I love to receive them and do my best to respond to every one!