The Northumberland Arms covers every angle: a rural retreat for travelers to escape to; a restaurant serving pub classics and street food dishes; and a place where the locals of Felton can enjoy a pint at the end of their shift.
And it does so seamlessly, in a perfectly charming way.
The county pub, that comes with six luxury bedrooms (all with en suites) was acquired by Stuart and Sue Young just before lockdown hit.
But the husband and wife didn’t rest on their laurels, instead, they offered a take-away service to locals in the village and launched Chinese boxes – to offer villagers comfort cuisine that they did not have access to.
When travel restrictions lifted, people flocked to enjoy the noodles and bao buns as well as county classics, surround themselves in the stunning scenery and get the steps in along the River Coquet.
Now, those dishes are a firm favourite on the menu and Asian style crispy beef with spring onion, chilli, coriander and sesame seed sit perfectly alongside hearty dishes such as pan-roasted duck breast served with potato fondant, spiced carrot puree, buttered greens and pie of the day with mash or chips, seasonal greens and rich gravy.
Each of the six bedrooms are named after local landmarks and we stayed in St Michael’s Church, named after the parish church in Felton.
It is one of the largest rooms that comes with a giant bed and there’s no awkward line down the middle where two beds have been pushed together; or at least you certainly can’t feel it. There are pretty views across to the woodland and the bathroom features a freestanding Victoria & Albert bath, double walk-in shower and all The White Company necessities to unwind and enjoy a good soak.
While the room has all the modern touches you need, it is also full of charm and character and comes with a restored antique Bergere.
New head chef Adam Westgarth joined The Northumberland Arms recently and is about to launch a new menu.
While it still features some of the classics which the venue has become renowned for, Adam has also put a more refined stamp on it with Northumberland Arms cheese rarebit, toasted sourdough, locally foraged mushrooms and spinach; smoked haddock and salmon fishcakes with pickled samphire and whipped citrus butter.
During our visit, we tucked into the twice baked cheddar cheese and spinach souffle. This melt in the mouth dish, with parmesan cream, oozed deliciousness.
The crispy beef noodles were served had just the right amount in heat in from fresh chillies and were much better plated up than served in a box.
The pie of the day was steak and red wine, served with chunky chips, greens and lashings of rich juicy gravy.
The pies are made by Kennedy and Rhind, a business which Stuart is also involved in. The café – which has a bakery and deli counter – in Jesmond is run by renowned chefs David Kennedy and Murray Rhind. Each day they bake pies fresh then send them packing to The Northumberland Arms to be enjoyed by guests.
If you’re a sticky toffee pudding kind of person, it doesn’t get much better than this: fluffy sponge smothered in butterscotch and topped with a dollop of ice cream and shavings of honeycomb.
Did we have rooms for it, no? Did we order it, absolutely? One portion, two spoons, and a bit of toffee pudding war to get the biggest bit!
It’s a known fact that hospitality is suffering with serious staff shortages right now, and finding team members is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Fortunately, The Northumberland Arms has a core team in place that all add to the Northumbrian welcome.
There’s Mr Trevor, hotel manager, who has become a legend in his own right for his charismatic charm; Vanessa, who you will speak to if you’re marking a booking and who couldn’t be more helpful; and Clair, the new general manager. You only have to look at The Northumberland Arm’s social media to release how much she is cherished by the local and wider community.
WINTER WARMER PACKAGE (must be booked pre Christmas) Book any room and receive £25pp spend on dinner as well as a Northumbrian breakfast, too. Call to book and quote WW1.