During our Maserati Levante Trofeo tour to visit the Great North Air Ambulance Service helicopter rescue we stayed at the lovely Derwent Manor Boutique Hotel between Newcastle and Durham at the edge of the North Pennines in North Yorkshire.
Originally built as a country residence for the three-time Lord Mayor of Manchester, Alderman John Grave. Derwent offers 56 elegant double bedrooms including five suites with stunning views over the countryside and four boutique cottages
The entrance to Derwent Manor is sublime. Two giant grey granite slabs herald your arrival. You then turn onto a divine tree-lined private road that curves sinuously up a hill through immaculate lawns and fields. It is reminiscent of an Italian country estate. I could have driven the Maserati up and down there all day long.
Curve around to the left as you approach the main entrance and you discover a series of old stone buildings to the right with a delightful spa to the left overlooking the gorgeous Derwent Valley. The view from here is magnificent and set off by two giant metallic wrought iron stag sculptures. You must amble over here with a drink in your hand at sunset to revel in the landscape. As we arrived three white and brown Shetland Ponies crossed over the road to the outdoor bar area as the riders stopped to grab a hot drink.
There is plenty of parking space near the entrance, so only a short hop and you are in the impressive lobby. A stunning crystal chandelier is suspended over a large circular sofa in rich terracotta. Walk on through to the reception desk and bask in a lovely warm northern greeting. Everyone here says "youse" for you, which makes you feel very personally welcome. The desk is worth noting, made from multiple layers of natural wood that seem to hover over each other. The lighting and ambience throughout the hotel are well thought out, warm and makes you feel right at home.
When they offer to show you to your room, take them up on it. The hotel is a maze. Being the hard man that I am, I chose to wing it which meant I was soon back down to ask for directions. My junior suite was up a flight of stairs and then a small door to the left.
I was delighted with the decor of the spacious 36 sqm suite. It was heavenly. A fusion of contrasting bling with muted warm silver grey carpets, rich taupe fabrics and desaturated grey-blue curtains. Glittering silver ball lights complimented the stag chandelier and the black and gold painted furniture. The entire hotel was interior designed by the owner Linda Wrout, modelled on her favourite hotel in New York.
The en-suite bathroom presented a spacious star tiled shower and a freestanding bath all themed in black, white and silver, warmed by a dark oak floor.
I quickly changed and nipped off the Spa for a swim. The Spa has a decent sized pool and jacuzzi overlooking the valley with a fully equipped, state of the art gym. Membership is damn good value too.
For our first night, we dined at The Antler Bar, Lounge and Terrace. The bar is well stocked with some fine whiskies and they do some great cocktails. The lounge is smart without being stuffy and you can choose to sit at a table in comfortable leather chairs or more intimately in facing leather sofas. Pick a spot by the fire and spend the evening creating itineraries to visit all the local beauty spots. The outside terrace area is well laid out with wooden booths and tables, so you can take in that tremendous sunset.
I had a Tiger Prawn & Mango Salad of sautéed prawns, little gem lettuce, mango and coriander dressing which was crispy, crunchy and juicy. My colleague Mark Turner had the Chargrilled Chicken, Bacon, Avocado Salad with chicken breast, crispy bacon, avocado, Northumberland cheese, little gem, cos lettuce with Antler dressing that he pronounced to be delicious and tasty.
On our second night, we dined at the more formal Prego Restaurant which maintains the same high standard of decoration as the rest of the hotel. The ambience is relaxed and the staff are attentive, warm and friendly. The sort of people who are happy to help and keep an eye out to check you have anything you need. Nothing is too much or too bothersome. Everything is served with that personal caring northern style that makes you feel truly at home.
I started with the Classic Dressed Crab served in a pot with cherry tomatoes, which was fresh, succulent with lots of flavours. For the main course, I went with the Parma Ham and Pork Loin Medallions, served with roast apple and a creamy mushroom rosemary sauce. This was cooked just right and melted in the mouth with a full-bodied honey flavour. The desert was a no brainer. The Amoretti Crema with a chocolate biscuit base, hazelnut mousse, topped with chocolate ganache was soft creamy and delightful. Mark had the Squid, Fish Goujons, Mussels, Crab, Caponata, Pickles, Cous Cous Bruschetta to start and the Tender Beef parcel stuffed with onion prosciutto, onions, pinenuts, pecorino cheese, and mozzarella with Italian red gravy as a main.
Afterwards, my colleague and I retired to the Antler Bar, content with the world, and finished with a fruity cocktail and a fine Chivas Regal whisky.
The surrounding grounds are beautiful, the scenery goes on forever, with Derwent Valley to one side and rolling hills on the other. There was a mist over the hills on the second morning and as the sun cleared away the clouds, the whole valley lit up. There are so many walks around the hotel, you are spoilt for choice.
Attractions close to Derwent Manor Hotel include; Beamish Open Air Museum, Diggerland, Derwent Reservoir, the quaint market town of Hexham, Alnwick Castle and Gardens, Barnard Castle, Corbridge Roman site, Allensford Park, Derwent Reservoir & Pow Hill Country Park, Durham Botanic Gardens, Durham Markets, Durham Cathedral and the Weardale Railway.
Not to mention that you are smack in the middle of the North Pennines, Northumberland National Park and the North York Moors National Park. We found some awe inspiring roads in the Maserati and I highly recommend touring the region for at least three or four days to do it justice.
They also plan plenty of weddings here as the Grand Hall has an exceptionally opulent chandelier that makes any event special.
Derwent Manor Boutique Hotel is a jewel in the North Moors. The interior decoration, location, scenery and warmth of service are absolutely five star. A relaxed, luxurious place to stay to enjoy the surrounding area and detox in the spa. Perfect for a staycation, fun with friends, a family treat or a car tour stopover.
Check out the wide range of places to visit and things to do around the area here: