Matfen Hall hotel in Northumberland

Stuart Forster reports on a spa day and stay at Matfen Hall hotel in Northumberland.

Birds are chirping and geese are honking on the far side of the fairway as I raise the sash window of my vast guestroom at Matfen Hall in rural Northumberland. It’s pleasant to wake with a view overlooking a championship standard golf course.

The country manor in which I’m staying belongs to Sir Hugh and Lady Blackett. The Neo-Gothic house dates from the 1830s though buildings have occupied the site since the Middle Ages.

I’m staying in Room 4, one of 53 guestrooms within the four star property. It’s one of the hotel’s Principal category of bedrooms.

Room 4 - a spacious, classically furnished guestroom.
Room 4 – a spacious, classically furnished guestroom at Matfen Hall in Northumberland.

Looking into the great hall

Out on the corridor I can peek through an arched window into the great hall, whose wall bears coats of arms belonging to families whose members married Blacketts. A lion is sculpted into the wooden balustrade of the broad staircase, which is a popular spot for photographing the brides and grooms who choose Matfen Hall as the venue for their wedding reception.

My room is classically furnished, has a dark wood desk, a table in the bay by the window and a broad, flat-screen television. Last night I relaxed by reading on the sofa while sipping a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Looking up at the high ceiling and enormity of the room it fleetingly crosses my mind that it would probably be big enough to practice three point shooting here, if a basketball ring was mounted on the wall. I’m sure guests in neighbouring rooms are pleased that isn’t the case—who knows what they might suspect I was getting up to.

Relaxing in the spa

When it comes to working out I’m planning on swimming a few lengths of the 16-metre pool, down in the hotel’s Aqua Vitae spa, before unwinding in the sauna and steam room. Unfortunately all of the treatment slots were already fully booked upon my arrival, so I won’t be getting a massage—next time I’ll know to call in advance of my arrival.

There’s a fitness room too, with weights, exercise mats and cardiovascular equipment. However, I’m planning a walk around the 300-acre estate and through surrounding farmland. The team down at the reception have already supplied me with a sketch map of trails in the area.

Gilchrist and Soames toiletries.
Gilchrist and Soames toiletries.

Matfen Hall Golf Course

A couple of the footpaths cut across the golf course that opened for play back in 1995. Now a mature parkland course with water features and a dry stone ha-ha, Matfen Hall Golf Course has 27 holes arranged in three nine-hole circuits. That means guests playing a couple of rounds over a weekend can introduce variations to the 18 they play.

There’s also a nine-hole, par-3 course plus a driving range with ten bays. It forms part of Matfen Hall Golf Academy, where golfers can request personalised coaching aided by computerised training aids.

The driving range stands close to a Go Ape Tree Top Adventure course, where people can monkey about while climbing and zip-lining.

The UK has voted for Brexit. Time to head to the bunkers?
The UK has voted for Brexit. Time to head to the bunkers?

Matfen Hall’s Library Restaurant

I’m looking forward to a traditional Northumbrian breakfast in the hotel’s refined Library Restaurant. As the name suggests, the tables are ranged beneath wooden shelves laden with leather bound books.

I dined there last after relaxing with a G&T in the comfort of one of the leather sofas in the subtly lit drawing room. With an ornately sculpted fireplace and gilt-framed oil paintings, it’s everything I imagine of a room within a manor house.

Oil paintings in the drawing room.
Oil paintings in the drawing room at Matfen Hall in Nortumberland.

The restaurant carries two AA Rosettes and is regarded as one of the region’s premier fine-dining venues. It serves modern British cuisine made with seasonal ingredients plus organic lamb and beef supplied from Sir Hugh’s farm.

For my starter I plumped for the scallops then enjoyed succulent Beef Wellington for my main course. The jus had a memorably rich, chocolatey texture. I also ordered a delicious side dish of cabbage prepared with pancetta. For dessert it proved impossible for me to resist the call of the soufflé.

An amuse-bouche served at Matfen Hall's Library Restaurant.
An amuse-bouche served at Matfen Hall’s Library Restaurant.

A Dutch-style formal garden

First though, I’ll let my appetite grow by taking a morning stroll in the hall’s Dutch-style formal garden.

I exit from the conservatory, which houses a bar, and crunch across the gravel of the terrace, past an outsized draughts board.

Morning sunlight shines through the framework of the garden’s pergola to dapple the ground. The gentle scent of roses and fresh grass wafts through the summer air and I look forward to the day ahead in the Northumbrian countryside.

Getting to Matfen Hall

Matfen Hall is in the village of Matfen, less than 30-minutes’ drive from the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and around 15 minutes from Newcastle International Airport.

Further information

See the Matfen Hall website for further details about the hotel, spa and golf course.

Matfen Hall is represented by HotelRez Hotels and Resorts. HotelRez is a representation company marketing more than 350 properties across the United Kingdom. Many of those hotels are historic country manors providing insights into local heritage.

Discover more about the attractions of Northumberland on the Visit Northumberland website.

You can also find things to do and see in England’s most northerly county on the Visit England website.

Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.

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  • Craig Bowen

    March 8, 2018 at 13:08 Reply

    The golf course at Matfen is supposed to be very good. I think I need to get a few of the lads together to head up there.

    • Stuart Forster

      March 9, 2018 at 08:44 Reply

      I didn’t play the course but I walked part of it and it appears to be well-tended.

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