For me (and I think the whole of social media) it was a long, long, long Christmas. My husband worked away for Christmas so our celebrations began in November when he was home and during that time we ate all the food and drank all the wine. By the time my husband went back to work on the 10th December I was all Christmassed out and was approximately 80% Sauvignon Blanc. Then I did it all over again for actual Christmas, alongside dealing with three poorly boys on my own.
So, when January rolled round (and my husband had returned from work) we were feeling very sorry for ourselves and were more than ready for some peace and quiet. The light at the end of our post-Christmas tunnel was our invite to Matfen Hall. Matfen Hall is based near Corbridge in Northumberland, only about an hour north of North Yorkshire, but somewhere I haven’t spent a great deal of time so I was very much looking forward to it.
Part of the Matfen Estate, Matfen Hall is a 19th Century Country Mansion owned by Sir Hugh Blackett and his wife. Previously the family home of the Blackett family, with a stint as a care centre for the severely disabled, the hall opened as a hotel in 1999 and underwent a major renovation in 2004. It now boasts golf, spa and leisure facilities.
Upon arrival we were greeted warmly by the receptionist and after an easy check in process were shown to our room which was stair access only but fine with us. As always, my first check is the bathroom – huge modern walk-in shower with double sinks, really bright and airy and when we went into the bedroom we were wowed by the view. I know absolutely nothing about golf but I think even I can guess the golf course at Matfen is pretty impressive. The view was completely unspoilt and lifted my weary post-Christmas spirit. Huge bed, separate seating area and so warm and cosy I wanted to lay on the bed and never leave. But we couldn’t resist checking out the grounds, it was obviously freezing being January but the grounds are fabulous to walk round and I imagine would make for a perfect wedding venue.
My husband (on a major January health kick) wanted to go to the gym and I had a facial booked so on went our robes and slippers and we headed off to check out the leisure facilities. The hotel has a swimming pool, gym and fitness timetable; it’s worth noting that it is also a leisure club so is open to non-residents. My husband confirmed that the gym was clean, well-equipped and quiet (not surprising when you could be in the hot tub instead). Whilst he was working off the Christmas cals, I headed to the pool area, plenty of seating and recliners around the pool, with a hot tub, sauna, steam room, ice fountain and showers. The pool was toasty and all the facilities were clean and well maintained. So I thoroughly enjoyed my couple of hours relaxation and taking the obligatory photos of my feet in front of the pool.
4pm struck and I headed off for my facial. There is a separate treatment area with a relaxation lounge, dimmed lights, super soft throws and that amazing spa aromatherapy smell that you can never recreate at home. My therapist was lovely and chatty and explained all about the Biotec facial I would be having. I did have to confess to having no skincare regime whatsoever other than trying to wash my face as quickly as possible while three toddlers bang on the shower door. After listening to my skin concerns; (red, wrinkly and bags bigger than someone with PE and Home Economics on the same day) the therapist suggested I would benefit from the Radiance Renew. I had an ultrasonic peel and light therapy from the Biotec machine followed by a mask and shoulder massage. It was amazing, I’ve been to lots of spas in my time but I always, without fail, pick a massage. After the treatment at Matfen I am a facial convert. My skin felt amazing afterwards and I wanted nothing more than to go to dinner make-up free, but even I wouldn’t inflict that on the general public.
The Library Restaurant
Unusually for me I hadn’t checked out the menus before we came so the restaurant and cuisine was a surprise; a very pleasant surprise when I discovered the restaurant is actually a 2 AA Rosette. We were seated in the lounge to wait for our table and were given a hefty wine, drinks and food menu. The Dry January resolve was weakening as quickly as I was sinking into the sofa, my husband was remaining strong, requesting……a ginger beer. So, I ordered a large Sauvignon Blanc to save face.
My January was made when I discovered my favourite ever starter on the menu. Cheese Souffle. Strangely I polled this on Insta stories as I was sure there would be an army of cheese soufflé lovers out there, but no, seems I’m alone on this one. The website describes the restaurant as a combination of classic and contemporary which I think sums it up perfectly. For the main course I opted for Tempura Cod Fillet with home smoked cod and spinach risotto. My husband (perhaps trying to make himself look a bit more masculine after his Ginger Beer) went for Fillet Steak with a Harrogate Blue Cheese sauce.
We were taken through to the Library Restaurant which was, in a word, grand. I’m not sure if anyone else has the fear of being seated close to other diners when a restaurant isn’t full? I do, but thankfully we were led passed the other couple of tables to a lovely table in the window. We had an early sitting and the restaurant filled up over the course of the night but we didn’t at all feel crowded. We were warmed up with a velouté and delicious home baked bread. The cheese soufflé was perfect and am still dreaming of it now. The tempura was light and accompanied perfectly with the risotto and the husband was pleased with his fillet.
We were stuffed, we even for a brief moment debated not having a desert but in the interests of a good review I thought I really should try and squeeze one in. After a chocolate torte and pear tart we really were done.
Following the best night sleep (no early morning wake up calls for us thanks) we returned to the Library restaurant for breakfast. There was a full continental spread of juices, pastries, and fresh fruit, alongside a cooked menu. I had the most delicious Eggs Florentine and my husband opted for the Northumbrian Breakfast which he declared to be probably one of the best he’s ever had.
Absolutely no January blues here after our night at Matfen Hall, we headed home feeling so relaxed and refreshed and we would definitely return in the future.
- A classic room on a Dinner, Bed and Breakfast package is available from £175. We stayed in room 1 which is available from £280.
- Various spa and treatment options are available. I had the Elemis Biotec Radiance Renew Facial which was £85.
- For more information check out www.matfenhall.com