It isn’t often that a hotel or B&B exceeds my expectations, so it’s always a happy moment when it does. It happened this week when we stayed for a night at Shieldhall Guest House in Northumberland, said by the owners to have been home, in days gone by, to the family of legendary landscape architect Capability Brown. After a long drive we were pleased to pull into the drive to this charming sight, and we received a warm welcome from my grandparents (who’d arrived a couple of hours earlier) and from Sarah, the lovely owner. She showed us around and then left us to our own devices – we were the only guests staying, so we had the place to ourselves.
As you can see, the weather was absolutely glorious. The whole place was so peaceful, and it was so relaxing to be able to hear the sound of birds and watch the swallows swooshing around. Each of the four rooms has its own door onto the courtyard, with a couple of benches outside; Grandad was sitting reading the paper in the sunshine when we arrived, and I loved spending some time talking to him out there before Lee and I headed off for a walk.
This was our room – the Oak room. Each room is named after the wood from which the furniture in it is made. The chap who owns the guest house makes the furniture, including this magnificent four-poster bed, which is a copy of one from Lindisfarne. It was every bit as comfortable as it looks!
We were impressed with the attention to detail, such as the beautiful fresh flowers in the bedroom and bathroom, and a jar of homemade apple and cinnamon biscuits alongside all the ample tea and coffee facilities. I also loved the fact that there were books everywhere, including one on Capability Brown, of course.
This was the view from the bathroom window. The bathroom was huge, and there was an abundant quantity of hot water, as I discovered when I had a relaxing bath before bed.
This was the delightful view from the door to our room. I liked our stone canine guards!
Across the courtyard is the library, which is another wonderful room and always open for guests to relax in.
This little nook looked particularly inviting, and had we been staying longer, I’d definitely have curled up with a book on that window seat.
Sarah had told us about a walk you can do around their land, which seemed the perfect way to stretch our legs after the long drive. As we were setting out we encountered the family dog, who was very friendly and ran over to say hello!
The walk winds its way through trees and down to a stream, where it meets a field of cows.
These two young cows were rather curious about us, but they couldn’t pluck up the courage to come and say hi!
Dinner is only served at the B&B when there’s a full house, so we drove down the road for a tasty dinner at The Highlander pub, which we were all pleased with. Next morning, this was the view that greeted us when we made our way over to the dining room at our pre-agreed time of 9am. Sarah was most attentive and cooked us all breakfast, in addition to there being yogurt, cereal and delicious homemade compote available as well.
This was Lee’s breakfast – I had everything except the bacon and sausage, as I tend to find meat a bit much for me first thing in the morning! If there was just one thing I would change about the stay, it would have been the option for a continental breakfast, as I’m not a cooked breakfast person myself – but I couldn’t fault the breakfast in any way at all, nor the service!
Shieldhall was a recommendation from my parents, who stayed there a year or so ago, and we all agreed that we’d definitely be coming back. It’s unusual for me to rate anywhere 5/5 stars, but Shieldhall certainly earned it! The house is so beautifully furnished that it was almost like staying in a stately home, and every last corner was so interesting and full of character. It’s the perfect antidote to the stresses of everyday life, and a pleasing contrast to the hotel chains. And, with loads of places to see nearby (Hadrian’s Wall, National Trust properties etc), it’s the ideal destination for a northern UK break.