While I am all about cosy inns, welcoming hostels and authentic B&Bs, there was something about stepping into the sumptuous setting of Walwick Hall after a day of exploring that I found completely irresistible. Its boutique style is unusual for its position along Hadrian’s Wall, based in Humshaugh and just a brief walk from Chesters Roman Fort and Museum (English Heritage). Nevertheless, the hotel goes out of its way to welcome walkers, ramblers and explorers alike. It just does so with a touch of elegance and luxury, which I was absolutely on board with as I ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ at the refined, aesthetic décor.
I was greeted with a warm welcome by the staff in the main hotel, but I was actually staying in Chesters Stables, Walwick Hall’s luxury self-catering accommodation. After poking my head into the hotel’s tranquil spa and then their decadent restaurant ‘The Dining Room’ (both of which can be used by Chesters Stables guests), I took a leisurely stroll through the stunning, expansive hotel grounds before getting into my car to take the short drive down the road to my private Stable Suite.
As I was travelling alone, I stayed in the one-bedroom suite named The Stallion, and the unusual layout, elegant kitchenette and rustic wooden features instantly excited me – it was like stepping into an interior designer’s dream. Original stable partitions are used to distinguish different parts of the room, reflecting the equestrian character of the building’s original function. But what really caught my eye was the little log burner in the corner of the room, which I couldn’t wait to curl up in front of! I also couldn’t believe how much space I had to myself, and the separate bedroom area felt like a cosy hideaway with exposed brick walls and thick, tartan carpet. My delight continued when I spotted the huge, free-standing bath tub… this was my kind of room.
I couldn’t get into my pyjamas and get the log burner going just yet, as I was due to have a look around the other stables. There are seven in total, each with their own style, but I quickly noted that log-filled stoves, private terraces and refined interiors were characteristics of all of them. Their bedroom numbers vary from 1 – 4, so I was already considering when I could invite my family up to Northumberland to stay here again with me, dogs included! (Note to dog owners – The Stallion Suite and The Carriage House are pet friendly AND offer dog owners a little welcome pack complete with a bowl, waste bags and treats, meaning less pet-purpose-packing for you.)
I also learned that, not only are Chesters Stables a convenient spot for discovering the rich history of Hadrian’s Wall, but they themselves have a fascinating heritage. Originally built as an extension of Chesters House, an 18th century country mansion, the stables were only renovated and brought back to life in 2018. The house was built for John Errington of Walwick Grange in about 1771, and was eventually inherited by John Clayton in 1822.
Clayton was the town clerk for Newcastle upon Tyne and a keen antiquarian. He went on to excavate the ruins of Chesters Roman Fort and then, in 1855, buy more than 20 miles of land along the west Hadrian’s Wall to protect it for the first time. Up until then, the locals had been removing stones from the wall for their own building projects. Clayton went on to rebuild large sections of the wall, allowing us to admire it to the amazing standard we see today. Architect Norman Shaw extended Chesters House in 1891, building five two-storeyed three-bay wings and a stable block, now known as Chesters Stables. The stables were originally designed as stabling with groom’s accommodation around a courtyard.
After the tour, my stomach was rumbling, so I decided to drive back to the hotel building (with my swimwear bagged up and ready for the Spa later) and sample The Dining Room’s menu. The restaurant area is spectacular; regal, gold furniture and a shimmering golden fireplace add to the lavish atmosphere that oozes from every corner. I picked the crunchy grilled asparagus, with parmesan custard that was bursting with flavour, to start, followed by a juicy, roasted lamb rump with buttery fondant potatoes. For dessert, the course I was most looking forward to, I ordered the dark chocolate and hazelnut gateau, which did not disappoint. This melt-in-the-mouth delight had to be my favourite course, and my creamy cappuccino accompanied the rich, luscious flavours of the gateau exquisitely.
Thoroughly satisfied, I headed to the hotel spa for some final relaxation for the evening. Too full of lamb and chocolate to swim, I flitted between the bubbling Jacuzzi and the warming sauna, which was a fantastic way to end my evening. The soothing sauna air made my muscles feel like they were melting away after my day of walking, and I practically drifted back to my car once the Spa had closed.
Finally, I could settle down in front of the log burner in my suite. I grabbed my book and enjoyed the crackling, toe warming effects of the fire into the evening, before dragging myself to bed when I couldn’t keep my eyes open for a moment longer…
I could have stayed in bed all day when my alarm rang the following morning. I begrudgingly got up, made myself a coffee and whipped up some breakfast in my gorgeous kitchenette, before it was unfortunately time to say goodbye to my beautiful room. Knowing that I had stayed somewhere that had such poignant, historical impact on Hadrian’s Wall made the day ahead of me all the more magical, as I explored with a deeper connection to the wall’s heritage than I had done before. It’s safe to say that I can’t wait to return to Chesters Stables… next time maybe with my dog by my side!
*Please note that Chesters Stables operate with a 3 night minimum stay. This one-night stay was an exception due to the work-related nature of the trip.