One of the things I love about my family is that we always make the effort to come together to celebrate special occasions. It’s usually big birthdays, however my aunt and uncle organised a spectacular weekend in London 5 years ago for their 25th wedding anniversary. It inadvertently had a bit of a British royal theme; we stayed at The Goring Hotel, had afternoon tea at The Ritz and spent a day exploring Buckingham Palace. The unexpected highlight for all of us though, somewhat unexpectedly, was watching their wedding video during a private dinner at the hotel on our last night. It was strange to see everyone so young and see how wedding trends have changed, as well as have a bit of a giggle at all the 80s hair!
It was such a success, they decided to do an encore this year for their 30th wedding anniversary. I always look forward to finding out the location for these events, my family have a knack of choosing excellent, luxury hotels, a particular passion of mine! This time a luxury hotel in Hexham, Northumberland was chosen, near Hadrian’s Wall. As expected, this was no run of the mill hotel, it was a restored 14th century medieval château, Langley Castle.
I was delighted, I am sure I am not the only one that would have loved to stay in a bona fide castle, all princess dreams set to come true!
If after reading this you fancy a fairytale day trip, try one of of these castles around the UK, including the Downton Abbey castle, one I am particularly keen to go to.
Overview of Langley Castle, a Luxury Hotel in Hexham
Sweeping up the long drive, Langley Castle looks rather foreboding, this most definitely looks like a building intended to keep people out! There is a water fountain outside the entrance and a very well tended rose garden with immaculate criss cross hedges. Push the old wooden door aside and you are in the castle!
The décor is representative of the castle’s history, medieval coats of arms, suits of armour and exposed stone. It was a bit like my stay at Burgh Island Hotel last summer, which also did a fabulous job of making us feel like we had been transported back in time, albeit to the slightly more recent 1930s!
The staff are lovely; polite, efficient, but not too formal and really put us at ease. They also did a great job looking after us, which bearing in mind we were a party of 21, was no easy task!
Make sure you take some time to wander the grounds, it’s great to view the castle from the outside and you may just stumble upon their resident peacocks! The venue also appears popular for weddings and there is a gorgeous set up in the woodland overlooking the castle, a beautiful spot for a ceremony.
History of Langley Castle, A Luxury Hotel in Hexham
Originally built in 1350 by Sir Thomas De Lucy, Langley Castle is now one of the only genuine medieval castle hotels in England. It was owned by various lords and ladies, many of whom the rooms in the castle are now named after. Langley Estate was confiscated by the crown after the beheading at the Tower of London of it’s previous owner, Charles, the Viscount of Langley. It was managed by the Royal Naval Hospital until a local historian and his wife, Cadwallader and Josephine Bates, bought it in 1882 with the aim of restoring it to it’s original glory, something they worked tirelessly on for their entire lives.
After their death, they were buried in the grounds beneath a tombstone you can still visit today. Langley Castle spent the next few decades primarily as an army barracks in the Second World War and then a girls school. In 1986, it was purchased by an MIT professor and his wife who then subsequently turned it into a luxury hotel.
Langley Castle run a 45 minute tour at 10:15am every day of the castle and battlements that give a really great insight of the castle through the ages, as well as taking you onto the roof and battlements for some superb views of the Northumbrian countryside. At the end, they show a video in the chapel that also gives the history of the surrounding area and how the Castle fits into it. It’s well worth doing if you have the time, I found it really interesting and I’m alway a sucker for a beautiful view!
Rooms at Langley Castle
There are 9 rooms in the main castle, 5 “feature” rooms and 4 deluxe castle rooms. They also have a converted listed building in the grounds called Castle View, here there are 7 standard rooms, 5 superior and 6 suites. Set further back into the grounds still, is Castle View Lodge, a standalone cottage with 2 bedrooms, a private facilities and roof terrace.
We stayed in one of the feature rooms in the main castle, The Derwentwater Room. It is everything you would want from staying in a castle; high ceilings, an inglenook stone fireplace and a four poster bed. There are steps up to the window with huge drapes either side and hanging from the ceiling, my most favourite things in the world, chandeliers! It is a large room, there is a writing table in the corner, 2 armchairs and a sofa bed at the foot of the super king size bed.
The bathroom is decidedly more modern, but not so harshly that it doesn’t gel with the rest of the décor. The shower is nice and powerful, although we did find it a little tricky to sustain a temperature between scalding hot and lukewarm.
There are tea and coffee making facilities in the room, however at the price point, I would have expected something more than instant coffee.
My dad stayed in The Greenwich Room which was decorated in a similar style to ours, but a bit smaller. In the window nook there is a seating area, perfect for admiring the view. There is also a separate dressing room, but the stunner is the spacious bathroom with a huge shower and egg shaped bath that was also surprisingly light and airy; as to be expected, there are not a lot of windows in a castle, so many of the rooms can feel a bit dark (ours included).
If you want rooms that are lighter, cheaper or not decorated in a medieval style, then Castle View is for you! The Langley Castle website has excellent pictures and 3D tours of most of the rooms and having seen a few of them, they are very representative of what you get. Plus, it was really fun touring all the individual rooms and choosing in advance.
Dining at Langley Castle
There are a few different options for eating and drinking at Langley Castle, depending on which meal and what you are after. The restaurant stands on its own merits and is visited by locals as well as hotel guests.
The Josephine Restaurant
This is the hotel’s main restaurant and is decorated in the same medieval style throughout the majority of the hotel; plush red furnishings, exposed stonework and oil paintings hang on the walls.
Their menu is classic, hearty and mostly British, but with lots of refinement, all the food I had while I was there was excellent. This is also where breakfast is served. The do both a continental option and a cooked breakfast included in the room rate; I went for my favourite of Eggs Royale, but I have been assured their specialty of the Northumbrian breakfast (a variation on a full English) is superb!
This is a glass walled extension connected to the castle by a passageway which is used for private events. We ate in here for all but one breakfast due to the size of our party, which was great as we didn’t have to worry about disturbing the other guests. It also meant that we got to set up a screening of the wedding video again, which was the highlight of our first evening there!
That night was the formal “party”, with sparkles on arrival, a delicious 3 course meal, cake and speeches. Our second night was a bit more chilled, we had a buffet which was excellent; I have always assumed buffet food will be average at best, but this is my second great experience of one recently. The lasagne was delicious and they had a great Caesar salad I had way too many helpings of!
The Stuart Suite
This is a huge room which has the most natural light of any of the other rooms in the castle that I saw. They hold weddings, events and conferences up here mostly, but they will take you round there as part of the battlements tour they do every morning.
The Drawing Room
This was the room we spent the most time in and has some VERY comfy sofas! There is a little bar off in an adjoining room in one corner, but they do table service all day.
There is a more informal all day dining menu that has both lighter and more hearty options, as well as desserts. If you’re feeling especially fancy, they also do a traditional and gentleman’s afternoon tea!
We spent quite a bit of time here, its a great room for socialising and has a really relaxed feel, perfect for afternoon wine or a nightcap. Our room shares a wall with the Drawing Room and I can attest the 7 foot thick walls are the best soundproofing you could ever wish for, I tend to go to bed quite early and heard nothing of the celebrations going on well into the night!
Things to Do Near Langley Castle, A Luxury Hotel in Hexham
Langley Castle Hotel is located just outside of the town of Hexham, less that an hour’s drive from the Scottish border and half an hour from the city of Newcastle. The countryside is beautiful around Hexham and you are just a stone’s throw from Northumberland National Park and Hadrian’s Wall.
We spent a day at Hexham races while we were there, which was less than 15 minutes from the hotel. We were somehow blessed with lovely autumnal weather and so had a backstage tour of the course before it opened. Hexham Racecourse is based on a hill overlooking the town itself and it has some of the best scenery I have seen on a racecourse, the views of the countryside go on for miles. Our guide did say that while beautiful when the weather is also, it can be a very cold, windy and miserable place to be when it does turn.
Hexham itself is a historic market town that still has markets every Tuesday and Saturday. The centrepiece is Hexham Abbey, a stunning Grade I listed building first built in 674 AD. Have a wander inside to admire the architecture, there is also a gift shop and café. England’s first purpose built prison in 1333 is also open to visitors, Hexham Old Gaol. Here you can learn about the infamous Border Reivers, raiders along the Scottish border between the 13th and 17th centuries.
I always have a fabulous time when my family all get together for the weekend, which is always accentuated by the venue and this luxury hotel in Hexham was no exception. It is very much a different experience staying in a castle for the weekend and one thoroughly enjoyed.
The location is perfect for enjoying a relaxing long weekend away and has lots to keep you entertained in the immediate area.
Have you ever stayed in a castle hotel, or would you ever stay in one?