If you find yourself in a hotel bar rubbing shoulders with Joanna Lumley one minute, and then Gazza the next, there’s a good chance you’re checked into Jesmond Dene House. Boasting bold interiors and gourmet food as eclectic as the guestlist, there’s plenty to love about this boutique mansion hideaway.
The hotel occupies an enviable location, housed in a Grade II-listed building flanked by lush green woodland designed for romantic strolls. It’s hard to believe you’re less than a 10-minute taxi ride away from the throng of Newcastle city centre.
The house itself is a dream for interior design snobs. Think wood panelling, plush velvet sofas, vibrant colours and wire sculpture dogs. Roaring fires add to the country home vibe, creating a space that perfectly balances classic and contemporary. This place has character.
The 40 rooms come in six different styles, which includes a selection of suites ranging from Junior to the jaw-dropping Apartment Suite. The latter features a private staircase, a large rooftop terrace and a huge bathroom with double walk-in shower.
Each room is packed with all the mod-cons you’d expect from a luxury hotel, including Sky HD, ultra-comfy beds and mini-bar. The bathrooms channel modern minimalism, and come loaded with Molton Brown goodies, walk-in showers and towels so soft, you’ll want to take them home.
Heading down to The Restaurant for dinner, it’s safe to say I arrived with high expectations. This two-times AA rosette venue decided to shake things up back in the summer of 2018, appointing the acclaimed Danny Parker as Head Chef. Having moved from the much-loved Michelin star venue, The House of Tides, this Stockton-born chef has the kind of credentials most restaurants would kill for. A runner-up on the 2014 season of MasterChef: The Professionals, he also made an impact on last years series of The Great British Menu.
At Jesmond Dene House, Parker has set out to build on the hotels’ stellar reputation, and put his own unique stamp on everything from breakfast to afternoon tea and of course, the a la carte menu. His mission to transform the venue into a destination restaurant seems to be working, because our dinner was a delight from start to finish.
Combining the best locally-sourced produce with ingredients foraged from the grounds of the house itself, each dish was a work of art. First up came the delicately divine Whitby Crab, which arrived with Jersey Royals, radish and chicken skin. A plate best washed down with a glass of Marlborough sauvignon blanc, it was an impressive start to the evening.
Speaking of wine, if you consider yourself something of wine-lover then you’re in good hands here, as the restaurants in-house sommelier is never too far away to make a recommendation. She picked out the exceptional Vasco and the Explorers Touriga Nacional 2015 to go with our mains, which is a deep, dark ruby red from South Africa that goes down a little too easily.
High standards were maintained with the next course, which for me was the Goosnargh Duck. Mixing up breast and leg, with carrot and parsley fresh from the garden, this relatively dainty dish offered up a full blown symphony of flavours.
The Yorkshire Pork with broccoli, morel and asparagus was another bold effort, made all the better with the addition of wild garlic. Despite little room left for dessert, there are times when something unusual catches your eye and you just have to try it.
The Dark Chocolate with Coffee Opera Cake and Dandelion Root Ice Cream was such a dish. Coffee and dandelion root go very well together, and the rich sweetness of the layered chocolate only enhanced the taste.
A post meal tipple in the adjoining bar somehow turned into a three hour plus conversation with the bar tenders, and a good few rounds of whisky sours and Old Fashioned cocktails. Plans to hit central Newcastle were soon shelved, but there are far worse bars to while away the small hours.
Jesmond Dene House, Jesmond Dene Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 2EY. Tel: 0191 212 3000.