Short Break - Alston House Hotel, Cumbria
Expect stunning views, history and a warm welcome at this Cumbrian hotel. Review<br/>BY EMMA MAYOH
The feisty winds on the road from Penrith to Alston buffeted the car and the biting cold kept the threat of ice in my mind as we made our way along this winding, isolated route. It was a nervous journey, even for someone who spends most of their life on the motorway.
So it was a delight to step out of nature’s roar into the welcoming light and tranquillity of Alston House Hotel, an historic building in the remote and pretty village of the same name located at the far reaches of the Cumbrian border. It is run by Michael and Carole Allchorne who debunked from Yorkshire when they fell in love with this old property. Their reaction is unsurprising as it has views of the South Tyne River and surrounding fells.
Over the coming days, that road which once had me sitting on the edge of my driver’s seat, transformed into one of the most picturesque journeys I’d experienced. It is little wonder the AA declared it to be among the top ten outstanding drives in the world. There are spectacular views of vast swathes of Cumbria, the Lake District and Northumberland. Even in the depths of winter, the countryside here has a beautiful bleakness about it.
We were on the doorstep of fascinating places to visit. We took time to go to Vindolanda, the Roman fort and settlement now containing treasures that have been unearthed as well as fascinating tales on what life would have been like. We also took a walk along a section of Hadrian’s Wall at Housesteads before retreating to Hexham, a pretty town full of lovely boutiques as well as a wide choice of great cafes.
After a day out in the icy cold weather, Alston House Hotel and its stylishly decorated restaurant, were a welcome sight. Several diners had ventured from other nearby hotels to try Michael’s food that celebrates local produce with a flourish. But diners who don’t have a healthy appetite need not apply – portion sizes here are ample! Hearty Lakeland lamb dishes are available as well as pizzas and pastas. Enjoying a drink beside an open fire after our dinner was a particular delight.
The Alston House Hotel is popular with cyclists and walkers exploring the nearby Coast to Coast route and the Pennine Way. But you won’t find basic rooms that are sometimes pitched at this kind of traveller. Our lovely accommodation boasted a big bed in a beautifully decorated room, designed to be in-keeping with the building’s history. There was also a large newly fitted luxurious bathroom. Alston House Hotel offered the perfect retreat.
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A room at Alston House Hotel ranges from £45 for a single to £100 for a double room, depending on the time of year and availability. For more information visit www.alstonhouse.co.uk