Continuing our exploration of the North East, we arrived at Matfen Hall in Newcastle upon Tyne, a true family home, with the Blackett family being central to both the past and the present estate, it has an impressive history.
Matfen Hall opened as a hotel in 1999 with 31 bedrooms and in 2004, a major expansion programme resulted in the number of bedrooms increasing to 53 and saw the creation of the Aqua Spa and Leisure Club.
This transformed Matfen Hall and its grounds into a premier UK and international tourist and corporate destination hotel, restaurant, conference venue, spa and golf course.
The approach is impressive, as is the first sight of the hotel. We pulled up to the entrance and once checked in we were invited to make ourselves at home in one of the unique and historic bedrooms. Each room is designed and decorated with elegant style and taste and ours full of unique period features. It was located off the Great Hall, a beautiful area with a sweeping staircase which takes you down to the large, real log fire burning in an ornate hearth and where antique mirrors are fitted into the Hall’s grand arches, reflecting natural light from the centuries-old rose window. A stunning venue for a wedding or special occasion.
In fact, there was a wedding while we were there and it was magical, we were able to watch from just outside our room over the gallery landing without being intrusive. The setting here is beautiful and it’s easy to see why it is such a popular wedding venue.
The front of the building overlooks a superb 27-hole golf course, set out on a classic parkland landscape with challenging water features and unique obstacles, the Club is recognised as one of the finest in Northumberland. You can walk the perimeter of the course, a glorious way to appreciate the grounds or discover the beauty of Matfen’s private Dutch Garden, we did both.
We also spent time in the spa relaxing and I enjoyed one of the best facials I have ever had. My therapist, Alexandra performed the Elemis Biotec Radiance Facial, an hour-long treatment, unlike any I had experienced before. A powerful antidote for dull and tired skin, this cellular-boosting treatment targets sluggish complexions for radiant, visibly brighter skin, the immediate benefits are brighter and visibly hydrating. The ultrasonic peel pumps vibrational energy into the skin to exfoliate and stimulate the removal of impurities and dead skin cells, whilst the galvanic rejuvenating current harnesses the power of Elderberry and Orange flower extracts to restore moisture and vitality.
It was a strangely relaxing sensation and afterwards my skin looked fantastic! Alexandra was expert at every stage of the procedure and very confident and knowledgeable about the treatment and the products being used. I certainly felt in safe hands and was delighted by the results. It seemed a shame to put make up on again, but I couldn’t go for dinner with a bare face!
We were due to eat in The Library Restaurant, however during our visit it was closed for refurbishment so we ate in the Conservatory Bistro but from the fine dining menu. They hold a 2AA Rosette at Matfen Hall so we knew we were in for some very good food.
For our starters we chose Game Terrine, pheasant salad, cornichons, rye bread and a red wine syrup and a favourite for us both; Pan Seared Scallops with cauliflower puree, mussels, capers, savoury tuille. We always taste each other’s, and the clear winner here was the scallops but that is probably because it’s a favourite for us both.
Our main courses arrived shortly after the starters were cleared; Slow Cooked Brisket Wellington, roast root vegetables, parsnip puree and beef jus was my choice and no side dishes required here – this was a complete dish. Our other main course was Oven Roast Corn Fed Chicken Breast, confit leg, buttered leeks, boulangère potatoes and a side of tender stem broccoli.
We struggled to choose a favourite from these two and compromised with a draw. The flavours and textures in each dish were really well constructed and the only thing I would say is the brisket wellington was very filling and a generous portion which was too large for me, unfortunately I was unable to finish everything but the flavours and quality of the cooking were perfect.
Unable to fit in a dessert, we had another round of drinks before a short walk outside and then to bed. It’s funny how quickly your mind and body relaxes in certain settings, add to that great food and a few drinks, we looked forward to a good night’s sleep.
Needless to say, we slept very well but still felt quite full, certainly not hungry enough for breakfast. So we took ourselves off around the golf course and gardens to work off last nights dinner and prepare ourselves for breakfast. A bit of fresh air and gentle walking and we were ready!
We do love a good breakfast and this was very good. Great choice, plenty of it and freshly cooked to order. Yes, the prefect end to a perfect couple of days spent at two of the finest hotels in the North East. Where next I wonder…
Words by Angela Riches
Newcastle Upon Tyne NE20 0RH
Tel: 01661 886 500