With its cool calming colour scheme and hunting lodge detailing, it’s hard not to feel relaxed and comfortable in the newly refurbished Plough in Alnwick. With £150k ploughed in to the renovation (see what I did there?!) everything from the contemporary decor right down to the staff and their uniforms, has been carefully selected in order to create a real luxury boutique brand identity.
From its ample parking concealed behind a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ recessed archway, to the carefully planned bedrooms and suites, this boutique hotel is a thoughtful home away from home, and a real destination. I whisked Sparky for a pre-birthday getaway in the gorgeous town of Alnwick and The Plough was to be our lodgings for the night – we arrived on a bright sunny day and after a brief stop off at fab bookstore Barter Books, we checked in and were shown to our hunting lodge themed room on the first floor.
The first thing that strikes you in each of the rooms at The Plough is the thoughtful home comforts, the standard of presentation and the cleanliness – A slate tray of brownies or cookies is laid out in each room on arrival, along with locally produced crisps, soft drinks and bottled water. There’s a Nespresso coffee machine with a variety of coffee blends and a plug in fan just in case. We’re also informed there’s an iron and ironing board should we need it (we don’t, I barely iron at home let alone when I’m on vacation).
Staff at The Plough are friendly, helpful and very pre-emptive. Before I’ve even had the chance to verbalise my thoughts of dinner, I’ve been booked into the restaurant and I’m starting to wonder whether they might be trained in mind reading. Uniforms take their cue from twenties era New York paperboys and it works, the shirt, tie and tweed waistcoat combo looks super cute.
Once we’re sorted we head down to the bar to sample some of the amazing drinks on offer, the back bar is a smorgasbord of gins and spirits and once we’re settled with a (locally distilled) gin and tonic and a beer, we chat to the barman who tells us stories about how The Plough has changed over the years and how he genuinely loves working there.
After a quick change, we head out to the first floor dining room for dinner where we spent far too much time cooing over the amazingly rich, decadent menu and being indecisive, the thought of local North East produce being a real draw. Taking it’s cue from the hunting lodge theme, there’s something here to suit all tastes, from sea bass with pak choi to lamb with sautéed sweet breads and the presentation is divine, it’s almost too pretty to eat and near enough all of it is sourced in the glorious North East.
The food served at The Plough is soul food. It’s a well put together menu and although we were left completely satisfied, we still found ourselves oohing and aahing over other peoples dishes.
Following in the vein of most boutique hotels, The Plough also offers a bar menu for casual dining, an Afternoon Tea menu (natch) and an a la carte menu. Interestingly, we discovered that there is also a huge and pretty well hidden room available for weddings and functions; as we were guided through the myriad of corridors we arrived at a huge, luminescent Aladdin’s Cave with a mezzanine floor and gallery staircase – a great alternative venue for parties.
After our evening meal we took a walk around Alnwick and were surprised to find just how close The Plough is to both Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Garden, with less than five minutes walk to each, The Plough is perfectly placed to facilitate a short break just miles out of the city centre of Newcastle. There are also some quirky boutiques in the town centre, Hotspur 1364 menswear is a hidden gem and well worth a visit.
When it came to settling down for the evening, we sunk into a mass of pillows and feathers as we lay in the super comfortable (but a little short) bed and had sweet dreams until morning. Breakfast is included with each stay at The Plough and it’s not to be missed – the cooked breakfast menu is supplemented with a selection of serve yourself cereals, fruit, yoghurts and juices and everything else is cooked to order. I went for my all time favourite breakfast: Eggs Benedict (reminds me of my days in Miami) and Sparky chose a Full English, coupled with freshly prepared breakfast smoothies and coffee, what we ate made for the perfect breakfast. Credit where it’s due, the Eggs Benedict at The Plough is without doubt the best I’ve ever eaten and I’ve lived in the States so that’s really saying something.
If Alnwick is the heart of the Northumberland countryside, then The Plough is surely the heart of Alnwick – with friendly, proactive staff who are well learned in the products they’re serving, comfortable surroundings and a relaxed atmosphere, The Plough should be on your list of things to do this Summer. Whether you pop in for dinner or afternoon tea or do as we did and have a sleepover, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed and this day and age that’s a rarity. The Plough is a hidden gem that deserves to be discovered and once you do, you’ll be back again and again, this is one place that truly lives up to its admirable four star rating.
We stayed in Room 1 at The Plough, for more information and for hotel and restaurant bookings
The Plough, 24 Bondgate Without, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 1PN
Tel: 01665 602395