If you happen to have encountered MTV show Geordie Shore, the only hot spots you may have encountered from Newcastle are bars like Bijoux and House of Smith.
Although we did pass by them in the town centre, my visit to the city consisted of a relaxing day at Jesmond Dene House.
Just a 10-minute cab ride from the main train station, the independently owned hotel is one of finest residential buildings after having been converted over nine years ago.
Taking its name from the small wooded valley it overlooks its Grade II Listed and maintains the feel of staying in someone’s home. An amazing one at that.
We arrived to festive decoration, including two toy soldiers at the entrance and an incredible gingerbread house in the hallway. On top of that, an array of Christmas trees are placed around the buildings for a festive feel while their seasonal dinner menu attracts diners from all over.
And it’s no surprise. Overseen by Head Chef Michael Penaluna, they were awarded three AA Rosettes in September 2009.
We enjoyed the beautifully presented prawn cocktail plus roast squash, ricotta, sage & pine nut salad for starters. The flavours were uncomplicated due to the classic techniques the used on the modern British dishes.
The main courses (local pheasant, wild mushrooms, confit potatoes plus roast plaice, brown shrimp butter sauce, fennel and clementine salad) stepped it up a notch with its richer tastes.
Then thanks to the good portion sizes, we enjoyed as much of the almond sponge, caramel cheesecake, spiced pear and chesnut ice cream dish as we could alongside a trio of homemade ice cream and sorbet (raspberry, mango and chocolate).
My sister and I didn’t know what to expect of the dishes but were pleasantly surprised to see the ‘cheesecake presented in carefully crafted bulbs on top of the cake, and were impressed by how real the scoops of flavoured ice cream and sorbet tastes.
None of that artificial stuff here.
Two courses of the festive menu is £31 and three is £35. Very affordable if you ask me especially with the amuse bouche additions of haddock and potato and carrot cake.
Have a gander around the cocktail bar or billiard room where you can read and chill out by the fireplaces before or after dinner.
We adored the wire dog sculptures which can be seen around the hotel, made my local artist Gary Tiplady. And if it’s not too chilly take a walk through the terrace and gardens which can be seen from the bar.
With a cosy 40 bedrooms across the original and new building, the place will never be too packed and is ideal for those in need of a short break. So breakfast (eggs florentine for me) will undoubtedly be a calm affair. There’s not much fun for me staying somewhere and being elbowed by fellow guests trying to get the last of the baked beans.
Alternatively, the rooms are not a bad place to hang out in. With deep and spacious tubs in the bathroom and HD TV in the bedrooms (prices start at £120) you might find it’s hard to leave.
Just visiting for the day? I hear their afternoon tea is incredible and every single item in the experience is made on site. Attractions such as the Great Hall is also the place to be for weddings too.
Or if you’re looking for something further into the countryside, the owners have recently opened a St Mary’s Inn further up the A1, a great pub with a small number of guest rooms.
Get there in under three hours and for as little as 15 on East Coast Rail from London.