Hotel Review: Wynyard Hall, Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham
Leading travel and food writer Nicholas Gibbens checks into the luxurious Wynyard Hall in County Durham.
Nestled in the rolling green hills of the Tees Valley on the outskirts of Durham, the historic Wynyard Hall Hotel is a rather grand affair, set in 150 acres of immaculately landscaped grounds and oozing olde world charm from the moment you set foot on the driveway.
Located in close proximity to some of the North’s most popular attractions – including the must-see Durham Castle as well as a wealth of museums and art galleries – it’s an ideal base from which to explore this intriguing part of the country, whether staying for a night or two, or a little longer. And, if you’re looking for a charming hideaway away from the stresses and strains of modern city life, then Wynard Hall is just the place.
An idyllic escapes to the country go, it doesn’t get much better than this, and after a long drive it was hard to think of anywhere better to spend a night than one of the luxurious suites this beautiful hotel has to offer. My own trip was of the business nature, but this beautiful establishment caters seamlessly for every type of visitor – from offering sumptuous surroundings in which to relax and unwind, to providing the almost obligatory free WiFi.
With just one night to explore all that Wynyard Hall had to offer, I made sure not to waste any time. This place had made quite an impression on me from the moment I had arrived, and I was eager to see what else it had in store.
The exclusive range of accommodation of offer at Wynyard Hall ranges from five elegant cottages to 19 bedrooms and suites. My suite, on this occasion, was situated in the main hotel, and I was shown efficiently to it after checking in thanks to an excellent level of service provided by the hotel’s professional team of staff.
The opulent Grand Master Suite certainly didn’t disappoint, showcasing stunning interior design coupled with classic country style. Here, neutral colour schemes meet tactile fabrics to create a lavish and elegant environment in which to relax and unwind of an evening, with sophisticated furnishings and a comfortable king-size bed clad in crisp linen topping it all off. With a perfect night’s sleep guaranteed, rooms at Wynyard Hall offer sweeping views over the lake and parkland. I could have easily sat and gazed at the vistas all evening, had I not been invited for dinner at the restaurant downstairs – but suffice it to say that I enjoyed a restful night in the utmost of comfort when I eventually retired to turn in.
The Wellington is a renowned two AA rosette restaurant offering an ever-changing menu comprised of modern British dishes, created using only the finest local produce to ensure maximum freshness and flavour. In fact, many of the ingredients are homegrown in the hotel’s very own Edible Garden – an attractive prospect if, like me, you like to know where your food has come from.
With the promise of exquisite food and drink on the table, I sat down at my table in anticipation. As expected, the service was efficient, and faced with an exciting menu of creative dishes, it wasn’t much trouble to order. To start, I selected the seared hand dived scallop with wild garlic, cauliflower and Iberico Pancetta – a choice that certainly didn’t disappoint. The scallop itself was tender and nicely cooked, its subtly sweet flavour contrasting nicely with the saltiness of the pancetta. A brave addition which could well have overpowered, but in this instance it worked, giving the dish some texture and making for an all-round mouth-watering affair.
After a triumphant start, I waited in anticipation for my main course to arrive, which didn’t take long. The lamb rump, BBQ braised lamb, kidney, broccoli and labneh was another great success; the meat was beautifully cooked to a perfect medium rare and melted in the mouth, with a good fat to meat ration that gave it a moreish flavour.
To finish, I couldn’t help but opt for the dark chocolate pave, bergamot and milk ice cream. Though I wouldn’t necessarily usually label myself as a ‘dessert person’, suffice it to say that this course was the best of the evening so far. The rich, gooey, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate was to die for and the richness was offset nicely by the lighter milky flavour of the ice cream. I can sometimes find chocolate a little much after a heavy meal, but The Wellington managed to get it just right.
Wynyard Hall has made rest and relaxation a priority for its guests, offering its own high-end salon and lavish Lakeside Spa – set in a tranquil location on the edge of the lake – for an indulgent stay that allows you to truly unwind.
The salon is located on the first floor of the hotel and provides a range of beauty treatments – from skin rejuvenation to firming and toning. Afterwards, you can head to the spa for a relaxing massage that promises to melt away the tension and stress – or opt for a blissful facial or infusion instead.
Surrounded by stunning parkland and gardens, it’s unsurprising that Wynyard Hall has made a name for itself as one of the most sought-after North East Wedding Venues. Providing the perfect setting for ceremonies since the 12th century, it’s one of the few venues in the country that boasts its own chapel, and since extensive development in the 1800s, the magnificent hall and its surroundings have offered an idyllic backdrop for wedding celebrations of all kinds.
While couples planning a religious ceremony can exchange vows in the ornate Brook Chapel – with its impressive stained glass windows, remarkable Italian marble walls and a 19th century working organ – those looking to hold a civil ceremony or another kind of non-religious wedding will find that the three opulent State Rooms provide a romantic setting. With its ornate, hand-painted ceiling and stunning, large gilt mirrors adorning the walls, the Mirror Room is one of Wynyard Hall’s most impressive State Rooms, and is perfectly suited to smaller ceremonies, drinks receptions of small wedding breakfasts.
In a nutshell
A historic country hideaway just a stone’s throw from some of Durham’s main sites, Wynyard Hall is one of the Tees Valley’s best kept secrets, and this hidden gem promises a rural getaway you won’t forget. From sumptuous accommodation to mouth-watering cuisine, it has got all bases covered – so if you ever find yourself in the area, then don’t hesitate to check yourself in.
Address: Wynyard, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham TS22 5NF
Phone: 01740 644811