It might seem a little odd, but we have two reception offices.
Our main reception is located in the red brick building, on the left as you drive into the property, midway between the main building and the garden rooms. We decided to locate it there so guests checking in don’t have to trek from the car park to the main building and then back to a garden room – if that’s where they are staying, of course. A receptionist is on hand to greet, or check out, guests from 8.00am to 6.00pm. Tim Sunderland, our General Manager, and Ruth Watson both work in the main reception office.
From 6pm, we transfer the reception function over to the main building, next to the bar, because our guests are over there eating and drinking.
The Trinity, so-called because it symbolises the bedrock trinity of bread, cheese and wine, is in comfortable brasserie style. Please note the tables are quite close together, partly so we can accommodate everyone staying with us but mostly because we dislike fine dining and the often sepulchral atmosphere that accompanies it – it seems to be the antithesis of the enjoyment of eating and drinking. The Trinity is where all food is served.
PLEASE NOTE that although we have on site parking, we are sure you will understand that spaces need to be reserved for guests staying with us. However, this is only when we are full in the hotel otherwise we are more than happy for bar and restaurant guests to use our car park. There is (free) parking in the village square just yards away.
Our bar is small but stylish, with dark wood floors, mirrored shelves and a shiny steel bar top. The bar area, for both licensing and seating purposes, extends into the main reception hall where we also have an open wood-burner. So far so good, but the space is very limited which is why we stagger meal times to make sure there is enough seating for everyone to enjoy a pre-prandial drink. The collection of embroidered pictures were made around the 1900s by soldiers engaged in campaigns abroad. With time on their hands, sometimes because of hospitalisation, they would embroider these commemorative pictures to send home to their families.
The Parlour is our delightful private dining room which sits six to a maximum of 10 people. Please note it is physically impossible to fit another chair round the table, so 10 really is the maximum, however much pleading goes on! The Parlour has a floor-to-ceiling bay window and is light-filled during the day and wonderfully cosy at night, when the thick floor-length curtains are closed. The walls are hung with a variety of interesting, decorative artworks with a beautiful purple-lacquered console table underneath one of the most flamboyant paintings. The big, round table has no legs to combat, and was especially made for us by Benchmark. Menus and service are exactly the same as in the main restaurant, although we are more than happy to construct a special party menu, if desired.
We have 13 bedrooms on the ground floor. Ten of them are Best Garden rooms, with semi-private terraces (and five are dog-friendly). Two are our new Best Terrace rooms, with semi-private terrace or garden, and one is the Better Courtyard room. The latter has no view, but will soon have its own little garden across the main terrace.
We have one ground floor Better Courtyard double (10) which is next to our reception office – and is one of Ruth’s three favourite rooms, despite the fact there is no view. The bathroom is large, with two hand basins and a loo. There is also a second, separate loo in the entrance lobby. We are in the process of building a bijoux garden across the terrace for this room, where there is a fine view of the castle. There is a FreeSat television with a DVD player.
We have two Best Terrace doubles (30 and 31) both with kingsize 6′ x 6′ 6″ beds. They have digital televisions, offering Freeview channels but not Sky, and built-in DVD players.
They were built in late 2012 and can, if needed, interconnect through a common lobby – useful if one wants to keep a kindly eye out for elderly relatives or children. Room 30 faces the garden rooms and has its own little brick ‘apron’ for sitting outside. It also has a large walk-in shower (no bath). Room 31 faces the castle, and has a tiny walled garden. The bathroom, as shown, has a walk-in shower and a bath.
NB The garden rooms are only 25 – 60 yards from the main building, depending on whether you are at the top or the bottom. There are umbrellas in all the rooms in case of rain.
Our Best Garden doubles/twins (20 – 29) are newly refurbished, a decent size, and particularly joyous in the summer because each has a semi-private terrace on the lawn side, with a simple table and two chairs. The garden gets the sun from about lunchtime until it sets behind the castle in the evening. However, they are toasty warm in winter, so do not think that because they are not in the main building they are somehow colder! Guests are welcome to leave wellie boots, bicycles, plants or any other purchases on the balustraded decking.
All the bathrooms are en-suite with power showers over a full-sized, glass-screened bath. They have beautiful new Porcelanosa wall tiles, hand basins, loos, de-mist mirrors with built-in shaver sockets (that no one can find!) and chrome towel radiators (the rads are chrome, not the towels, because that would be very uncomfortable).
All the rooms have 6′ x 6′ 6″ zipped and linked Hypnos or Vi-spring beds, except two which are twin-bedded, and all have a glass-topped table and two tub chairs. They have digital televisions, offering Freeview channels but not Sky, and built-in DVD players.We have an excellent DVD library. Tea and coffee-making facilities (including fresh milk) are in the rooms but guests are always welcome to come to the bar for tea or coffee.
There are seven bedrooms on the first floor, four with distant estuary and sea views, and three with village views. Of the inland-facing rooms, two are Good House doubles with views over neighbouring gardens and one is a Better House double, with dual aspect towards the market square. All the Best House doubles have distant estuary and sea views.
The two Good House doubles (5 and 6) are our most affordable rooms.They are at the front of the hotel, with pleasant views looking over the lane to neighbouring gardens. Because of their smaller size, they only have one tub chair for lounging in, but they have been completely redecorated and have brand new, Hypnos (top-of-the-range) queensize beds (i.e. 5′ x 6′ 6″) and small wall-hung digital televisions offering Freeview channels but not Sky, and built-in DVD players.
The bathrooms are small but, again, they have been completely redesigned and refurbished. They do not have a bath but are fully tiled with a walk-in shower, loo and handbasin.
Both these rooms are ideal for single occupancy but are also fine for couples who just want comfortable, no-frills accommodation.
Of our Better House doubles each has its own style.
Room 7 is a pretty, light-filled, medium-sized room with distant views towards the estuary and sea. It has a super queensize bed (5′ 6′ x 6′ 6″). The bathroom is quite small but recently refurbished with a power shower over the bath – and, incidentally, the only view of the castle in the entire building! The room has a digital television offering Freeview channels but not Sky, and a built-in DVD player. On the downside, the room is over the kitchen. The extraction system is only on during service, but those with particularly sensitive hearing or nervous disposition (like Ruth) might prefer to choose a different room.
Room 3 is situated at the top of the stairs, and is on the corner of the main building. It is north and east-facing, large and very light, with views towards the market square and neighbouring gardens. It has a kingsize (6′ x 6′ 6″) Vispring bed. There is a spacious wardrobe/shelving area, two tub chairs and a table. The bathroom has natural light and is a very good size with a full-size bath with power shower overhead. It has a digital television, offering Freeview channels but not Sky, and built-in DVD player.
All of our Best House doubles (rooms 1, 8 and 9) are on the first floor of the main building.
The reason these rooms are deemed to be ‘best’ is either because they have distant views towards the estuary and sea, and/or because the bedroom or en-suite bathroom is of good size.
The rooms are furnished in similarly modern style, using Osborne & Little fabrics, and all have 6′ x 6′ 6″ zipped and linked Hypnos or Vi-spring beds. All rooms have digital televisions offering Freeview channels but not Sky, with built-in DVD players. We have an excellent DVD library. Tea and coffee-making facilities (including fresh milk) are provided, but guests are always welcome to come to the bar for tea or coffee.
Room 1, at the top of the stairs, to the right, is a particularly popular room. It is south-facing, with a large bay window and distant sea views. It has a spacious wardrobe/shelving area, two tub chairs and table, and a good-sized, east-facing bathroom with natural light. The bathroom has been completely remodelled recently to provide a walk-in shower as well as a full-sized bath.
Room 8 is midway along the corridor, south-facing, and with distant sea views. It is a south-facing room with a square, semi-bay window just large enough for two tub chairs. There is additional seating and a coffee table, as well as a spacious wardrobe/shelving area.The bathroom also faces south and has lots of natural light. There is a full-size bath with power shower overhead.
Room 9 (pictured below) is a south-facing room with distant sea views. There are two tub chairs and a small table in the square, semi-bay window. The large bathroom is also south-facing with plenty of natural light. There is a full-size bath with power shower overhead.
Our lovely, light-filled Suite (room 11) is on the first floor of the old stable block. It has its own little balcony where guests can sit and enjoy distant views of the river Ore, the Ness and the North Sea beyond. It’s important to say this is a real suite, with a separate sitting area, and perfect for a celebration, honeymoon, or just plain self-indulgence.
Access is from the ground floor, up a private staircase and into the sitting room. The separate loo and bathroom are off a wide corridor that leads to the bedroom. As well as the swish walk-in shower, the bathroom also sports a full-length Happy D bath and sinuous Bisque chrome towelling radiators. (The suite has sloping ceilings but has been designed to ensure normal activities are not compromised: however anyone over 6′ 2″ may occasionally need to take head-ducking precautions!)
All the fabrics are Osborne and Little (as well as some gorgeous, lacquered side tables designed by John Reeves), and the flooring is a mixture of Brinton’s carpet in the bedroom and sitting room, and Amtico in the loo and bathroom. Most of the furniture is from Graham and Green but the bed, designed by Antonio Cittorio, is from B&B Italia, as is the groovy gold coffee table. Both the bedroom and the sitting room have Sony digital televisions with FreeSat and DVD players.