So about three or four months ago, I booked some tickets for us to go and see the show Kynren in Bishop Auckland. It was billed as 2,000 years of British history, with the involvement of over 1,000 local people. I love a bit of community art interaction, so I thought this sounded like as good an opportunity as any for our first little road trip! The dates happened to coincide with our first anniversary, so it was perfect!
Now if your British geography is as good as mine (i.e. awful) you will be interested to hear that Bishop Auckland is what we call “Up North”, pretty much as far north as you can get before you hit Scotland. It took us about 5 and a half hours to get there, because we did faff around a little bit when we left, and stopped off for a coffee en route.
We stayed in the Houndgate Townhouse in Darlington, which is about 30 minutes from Bishop Auckland. The Houndgate is an 8 bedroom boutique hotel, with a bar and restaurant. From the first moment we were utterly impressed with the hotel. The front of house staff were all very courteous and helpful, booking us a taxi for the evening and helping us to find the carpark.
Unfortunately this was the only downside of the hotel – because of its central location there is no on-site parking, and so you need to park in the multi-storey which is behind the hotel. This is paid for by the hotel during most hours during your stay, and it is very new and secure, but a tiny bit of a faff, and after the long drive I was feeling particularly brain dead.
I had booked a luxury double room for us to stay in (it’s only your first anniversary once!) and we were not disappointed. The bed was gorgeously comfortable, and the carpet had that reassuring thickness which prevented the am-I-walking-too-heavily angst that I am prone to.
The room was absolutely spotless, and decorated perfectly on what I would call the the tasteful side of Laura Ashley. The staff even wrote us an anniversary card, which was a nice touch!Something to bear in mind was that we could hear the bar below our room playing music and getting ready for their Saturday night trade, which we didn’t actually find disruptive, but it was definitely audible through the floor. If you’re a light sleeper it may be an issue, although given my experience of the staff, I am sure they would turn the music down at a moment’s notice if you mentioned it!
That evening we went to the show, and ended up getting back quite late (see my review of Kynren here). I have never been so glad to crawl into bed.In the morning, we headed downstairs to grab some breakfast. The hotel offers an a la carte menu for breakfast (although it was included in the cost of the room) and so Mr H and I both decided to go for the full English. I neglected to take photos, unfortunately! It was beautifully cooked and presented, with our baked beans coming out in their own little copper pot. It was very cute.
The coffee was hot, fresh and tasty, and our waitress sounded exactly like Sarah Millican. It was *most* satisfactory.
I would have liked to stay in the hotel a little longer than one night, and to have tried their restaurant, because the menu looked delicious and it had great reviews.
Despite our short day, would recommend the Houndgate Townhouse to anyone in the area because the service was impeccable. It’s a stylish retreat, perfect for couples, and sometimes that can be intimidating. On the other hand, I feel like you can often overlook shabby decor if the service is great. Luckily in this case you don’t have to, and can enjoy great decor and great service, which is the best of both worlds!