The rain limited our options when away at Tillmouth, so the break was rather mixed. On arrival, there was a beautiful meandering tree lined drive which opened to the back of a very fine building. The interior had handsome oak panelling and lots of stained glass panels. We were welcomed with a complimentary glass of wine, after which we were shown the public areas and dining room on the first floor. All very grand, with large fireplaces, oil paintings, period ornamentation and groups of comfortable sofas and armchairs.
We were then shown to our room and our hearts sank on entry. The 'antique' furniture was like something from a hostel for the homeless. The tv was in a corner near the ceiling and was about the size of two pocket handkerchiefs. There were fine views from the windows, but, unfortunately, the windowsill was about the height of my wife's upper lip, so she could only see the sky! I immediately returned to reception to request an upgrade, but there were none available.
We moped for a bit, and then realised that the room was very clean and a good size, the bathroom likewise, and the bed roomy and soft. Perhaps the online photographs led us to expect too much. It must have been worse in the trenches!
In the evening, we found that the menu didn't have a single option for a meat free/ gluten free diet so we went to Berwick and made do with a few emergency sandwiches sitting in the sun on the defence ramparts overlooking the sea. On return, we sat in the hotel bar for a while and then retired to our room. The tv turned out to be watchable.
The next day, the staff in the breakfast room were extremely friendly and helpful and we negotiated suitable repasts that were not on the menu. We sat in one of the lounges for a couple of hours, reading and completing crosswords, while the rain lashed at the windows. It felt serene and we had the place to ourselves. After a while, however, the feeling crept over me that I had somehow become an involuntary member of an old people's retirement home. We decided to brave the weather.
We went to a private country house that opens its doors two days a week. It is called Manderston Hall and contains lots of interest, including particularly detailed and well preserved plaster mouldings and a silver plated staircase! The rain held off long enough for us to view the well tended gardens and walk down to the lake. We had a very pleasant tea in the café.
I feel obliged to rate this establishment as 4 out of 5 because of the strong positives - the upkeep of the grounds, the grandeur of the building itself and the unusual qualities of the public areas. The staff were very obliging and the general ambience in and around the hotel is very peaceful. Breakfasts were very good, though we didn't sample the evening meals. I think we could have requested a gluten free option, but we didn't ask as we prefer to eat earlier in the day.
I don't know if we were unlucky with our room (number 10), but I wouldn't stay in it again. Although warm, clean and comfortable, the furnishings were more cheap, seaside B&B than elegant country house. The dressing table put me in mind of Diana Dors dressing room, with a preposterous crocheted cover on the box of tissues and a cheap tin tray for drinking glasses.
Some judicious refurbishment could transform a stay here, though other rooms may already be better quality. On a voucher deal, the break was good value, but I wouldn't pay the usual tariff.
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- Also Known As:
- Best Western Alnwick
- Tillmouth Park Country Hotel
- Tillmouth Park Country House Hotel Cornhill On Tweed, England - Northumberland