Otterburn, Le Petit Château - November 2016
In the village of Otterburn, right on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, is Le Petit Château, a completely unique venue in the heart of the North-East countryside. Travelling from Newcastle on a clear Autumn day, it was a beautiful drive looking out towards the Cheviots in the distance.
As we arrived in Otterburn, the tree-lined road, leaves just starting to turn golden, was a fitting approach to Le Petit Château whose exterior has an understated, fairy-tale charm perfectly at home in this quiet countryside village.
As soon as we entered the reception, I was struck by the Château’s unique style: plush leather and dark wood paired with striking printed wallpaper and lavish furnishings create an aesthetic of luxury with a slightly quirky edge.
We checked in and were shown to our rooms. Upstairs the cosy, boutique atmosphere continued as we came to a landing containing an exposed, red-brick wall, an enormous mirror with a gilded, turquoise frame and a fringed lamp casting a warm glow over the dark blue carpet.
Along the corridor we came first to my colleague’s room which drew a gasp of delight upon entrance. The far wall displays an exotic jungle scene in vibrant colours, which may have held my attention for longer were it not for the dazzling gold bedframe before it and, even more exceptional, the golden bath residing at the foot of the bed. Nothing says opulence like a golden bath in your bedroom!
Leaving my colleague to enjoy her golden chamber, I went off along the corridor in search of my own room. I had no idea what to expect, I only knew that it wouldn’t be the same, having been told that each room in the hotel is individually designed.
I could hardly believe my eyes as I opened the door to my room for the night as it was grander than anything I had been expecting. However even with the high ceiling and elaborate décor, the stone-effect walls and exposed beams meant that the room still retained a warmth that is often lacking in hotels.
Stepping into this room with its deep blue, velvet couch and huge mirrors, I truly felt that I had entered a rustic château in the French countryside. What’s more, I stepped out onto my private balcony (what a luxury!) to be greeted by the beautiful sight of the sun just beginning to set over the trees below a perfect Autumn sky.
Despite the pre-Winter chill in the air, it was a beautiful evening and I decided to take a stroll around the garden before losing the light.
On my way there I walked through the Château’s beautiful function room, which backs out onto the garden with huge glass doors. Le Petit Château is already a hugely popular wedding venue and with the room set out as it was, and the view out onto the Mediterranean gardens, it’s not hard to see why this is such a sought-after destination.
The garden was, of course, beautiful: peaceful and calm, a quiet fountain adding to the tranquillity of the early evening. What was especially lovely about this garden was how much thought and care had clearly gone into planning it, evidenced by the fact that, despite visiting in late Autumn, this Northumbrian garden was still in bloom and full of colour.
At Le Petit Château it’s hard to miss the distinctive pink building with its undulating, tiled roof, that stands in the garden like a fairy-tale cottage, and nor would you want to.
Inside of this quaint structure is where Tim, the Château’s exceptionally charismatic Master of Ceremonies, conducts the marriage services of the couples who come here for their very own fairy-tale wedding.
After my turn around the garden it was time for dinner, much to my delight. While the Château doesn’t technically have its own restaurant, it is adjoined to and aligned with the William de Percy Inn & Crèperie (maintaining the French theme). With more exposed wood and brickwork accompanied by plush furnishings, the Inn continues the stylistic qualities of the Château, creating a rustic yet luxuriously comfortable setting.
We were led to our table, a cosy booth, by Rebecca, the restaurant manager, who provided fantastic service throughout the night – she was friendly, attentive without being annoying, and able to answer all of our questions.
The William de Percy has an extensive and excellent drinks selection with everything from cocktails to fine single malts and craft beers and an equally tempting food menu, a tantalising mix of British classics with a French twist.
Our whole meal, from start (an eye-bulgingly good charcuterie board) to finish (mouth-watering lemon posset), was delicious. What made the meal especially enjoyable were the relaxed surroundings: regulars perched at the bar and locals at the next table enjoying a family dinner added a pleasant touch of warmth and authenticity to our dining experience.
Full and content after our lovely dinner there was only one last thing to be done before settling into the huge double bed upstairs. It was time to indulge in my favourite hotel ritual – whisky in the bath.
I chose myself a nice Scotch from the bar, served in a chunky, crystal tumbler which was satisfyingly heavy in the hand, and headed back to my room. I slipped into my fluffy, white robe as I waited for the bath to run and then was in absolute heaven as I relaxed in the gorgeous bathtub, sipping on my whisky.
Utterly content I climbed into bed, smiling as I removed the sprig of lavender from the pillow, and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
I woke up with a smile on my face and the only thing that made it falter was the knowledge that I had to leave Le Petit Château. I genuinely considered just seeing what would happen if I locked my door and refused to leave! In the end the only thing that could tempt me away from my beautiful room was the prospect of a cooked breakfast.
At breakfast we were served by Sarah whose cheery demeanour, despite having to be at work at such an ungodly hour, impressed me very much. She was happy to chat and told us all about the hotel as well as the local area.
All over our experience at Le Petit Château and the William de Percy Inn & Crèperie, from the brilliant staff to the delicious food and sumptuous surroundings, was wonderful. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be getting married to have a very special day here.