As a great fan of the North East of England and a frequent visitor to the Northumberland coast I had always fancied staying at the Waren House Hotel. I knew it was in the best location between Alnwick and Berwick, and it had received a number of good reviews, admittedly some of which were some years ago, the only thing that had put me off was the price. However having been to a number of hotels in ‘Johansens’ and ‘Signpost’, and having found them to be excellent, we decided with friends to ‘splash out’.
The initial start was fine, we knew it was a great location, the drive up to the hotel was impressive, the gardens looked well cared for and the house itself was attractive and welcoming. W entered a reception area that was very dull with dark red walls and cluttered with all sorts of items, some antique, some just very creepy. There was an unpleasant smell in Reception which we later decided was because the kitchens were just down a short passage off. We didn’t experience this to the same degree during the rest of our stay. The young lady on reception was very pleasant and showed us to our rooms which were very spacious, decorated nicely in country house style, mixed but attractive furniture and comfortable beds (sheets and blankets not duvets). The bathroom was nicely equipped and though we were aware that there was no shower, just a shower attachment on the taps, there was no shower screen, though there was room to fit one. This made the shower attachment pretty useless and many litres of water were wasted having baths. The bathroom was carpeted, very comfortable, but not a good idea I would suggest when there is a toilet and men in the equation.
Public Rooms were attractive and comfortable but again cluttered with a mix of items many of which were not very appealing. There is no bar, you order from a list.
The biggest disappointment was the food.
Meals were served in a nice dining room with good furniture. The wall at one end of the room however, was covered with family photographs which gave it an eerie feel. I am all for family photographs but not in a public dining room.
Breakfast was quite good with the usual choices using local produce but let down by tasteless sliced bread, not the locally baked crusty bread promised in the breakfast menu.
Before dinner we were asked to go into one of the lounges to order and be served canapés. Each night they were identical – homemade cheese sticks, homemade bread sticks (very hard), curried nuts and a dip (to soften the bread sticks?). Not my idea of canapés.
Dinner – well, first of all, if you are into your five a day, make alternative arrangements. Over the six days the only vegetables we were served was perhaps four carrots or courgettes carved to the size of a nutmeg, perhaps a dozen peas with the lamb, or the chefs favourite, a teaspoon of chopped beetroot. One night I asked for more vegetables, they said that was unusual but would try. We got an extra portion of boiled potatoes!!! Starters and sweets were reasonable and the ‘pre-starter’, a cup of soup, was always excellent. There was no change in the main dishes offered each night apart from two or three which rotated every two or three nights. Maybe if you are only there one night you might be satisfied. Meats like pigeon breast, venison and lamb were overcooked, and the chef favoured curried or chutney accompaniments with many things. This was nouvelle cuisine at its’ worse, more like cooking by numbers, with no sign of the chefs’ flair and involvement, just regimented placing of items on a plate identical each night . We were not alone in these views. One of the highlights of our holidays has always been the anticipation of a good dinner after a good day out. Not once, after the first night, did we feel this.
They had a good wine list.
Coffee, and the same chocolate each night, was served in the lounge.
The only staff we saw in the seven days were young people. They were very polite and helpful but had no experience and could not make any decisions. We think we saw the manager (ess) for seconds one day, but no sign of the owners who I believe live on the premises. It doesn’t say much when the owners cannot take the time to be involved and find out how guests are feeling. I would have thought that this was essential in an establishment of this type and size.
We would not go again. P.S. One bottle of water in the room at £1.20! and two biscuits. Bit tight for £200.00 a night?
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- Also Known As:
- Waren House Hotel Bamburgh, Northumberland