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My weekend of indulgence in the luxury surrounds of Matfen Hall

This five-star county retreat in Northumberland offers a slice of true luxury.

The impressive exterior of Matfen Hall. Image: Matfen Hall
The impressive exterior of Matfen Hall. Image: Matfen Hall

Sipping champagne while sizing up petit fours, I gazed upon the perfectly manicured golf course.

I was spending an indulgent weekend at Matfen Hall, a five-star hotel just 25 minutes – yet feels like a world away – from Newcastle.

Built in 1832 for the Blackett family, Grade II-listed Matfen Hall has been everything from a family home to a nursing home and latterly a hotel.

The impressive exterior of Matfen Hall, backing onto Matfen Park golf course. Image: Matfen Hall
Matfen’s stunning grounds. Image: Matfen Hall

Nestled in the Northumberland countryside, the first thing that strikes you about Matfen is its impressive exterior.

With a sweeping drive, immaculate landscaping and a flowing fountain, it’s a grand country pile that wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Bridgerton.

That feeling of grandeur continues as you walk through the door and into the Great Hall, formerly the Blackett family chapel.

The stained glass windows, vaulted ceiling, impressive staircase and open fire set the tone for what to expect from a stay at Matfen.

The Great Hall.
The Great Hall sets the tone staying at Matfen. Image: Matfen Hall
Another view of the Great Hall, formerly the Blackett family chapel.
The Great Hall’s staircase curves around the room which is centred around an open fire. Image: Matfen Hall
Vaulted ceiling in the Great Hall.
The impressive vaulted ceiling in the Great Hall, one of many painstakingly restored by hand. Image: Matfen Hall

I was soon handed a glass of champagne and introduced to just some of the staff who I’d come to realise are what makes this hotel worthy of its five-star status.

I’d already met Kev, the resort’s friendly Geordie chauffeur who was ready and waiting to whisk me off to Matfen from Newcastle station just half an hour earlier.

Then there was Desmond, who took my bags to my room and couldn’t have been more helpful when I later got lost in the hotel’s maze of corridors.

I could go on – but the people make Matfen, which has undergone an incredible multi-million-pound transformation since being acquired by the Walwick Estate Group in 2020.

Matfen Hall’s multi-million-pound transformation combines traditional and modern luxury

The transformation included everything from revamping the bedrooms and changing the layout to painstakingly restoring the ceilings – which were hand-painted in tones as close to the original as possible.

Every room has fascinating authentic features, from the original floor in the Great Hall to Blackett family crests carved into the wooden frames above the windows.

One of the most striking is the Morning Room’s fireplace, which I was informed was originally destined for Buckingham Palace (unfortunately for the Palace, but lucky for Matfen, it was the wrong size).

Large fireplace in the Morning Room.
The Morning Room is used for afternoon tea and has an impressive fireplace once destined for Buckingham Palace. Image: Matfen Hall

The Morning Room is where, after my welcome champagne, I sat down for a spot of afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea may conjure an image of finger sandwiches, scones and cakes – but this is Matfen, so everything is a cut above – and of course involves champagne.

Savoury treats included a sausage roll, duck egg custard and caramelised red onion tartlet and my personal favourite, an egg mayonnaise sandwich made with fresh eggs from Northumberland firm Goodfellows.

Next on the cake stand were lemon and poppy seed muffins – served with cream and blackcurrant jam – and cheese scones, paired with chilli butter.

Matfen Hall’s afternoon tea is a cut above

My favourite tier had to be the pastries, which creatively combined classic flavours with local produce to make unique sweet treats.

My highlight was a honey and yuzu petit four combining the East Asian citrus fruit’s unique flavour with a Northumberland honey ganache.

All of this was of course washed down with tea – I chose Earl Grey – and a trio of champagnes, all selected and poured by Matfen’s Bars and Restaurants Manager Oliver James.

Maften Hall pastry chef presents the afternoon tea.
Matfen Hall’s impressive afternoon tea, as presented by the pastry chef. Image: Matfen Hall

As you can probably tell, Matfen takes eating and drinking seriously.

It has two restaurants; Cloisters, used for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and fine-dining restaurant Emerald.

Cloisters sits at the heart of the hotel and boasts a refined menu centred around fresh, local produce – some of which is grown on Matfen’s 300-acre estate.

It was recommended to start with homemade bread and butter and fresh Jersey oysters, served with a beetroot mignonette.

I indulged in the beautifully cooked lamb rump, before settling on the banoffee dessert, which was like a deconstructed banoffee pie.

Even breakfast is a luxurious affair, with The Matfen signature cooked breakfast one of several options served to your table.

Inside Cloisters Bar and Restaurant
Cloisters Bar and Restaurant is at the heart of the hotel. Image: Matfen Hall
Breakfast at Matfen Hall, including the signature Matfen cooked breakfast.
Breakfast at Matfen Hall, including the signature Matfen cooked breakfast. Image: Matfen Hall

Unlike most hotels, there’s no buffet in sight with tea, coffee and even the hotel’s signature smoothie or lemon and ginger shot brought to your table by the attentive staff –  perfect if you’ve indulged in one too many glasses of wine the night before.

If I thought Cloisters was good, I was about to be blown away by fine-dining restaurant Emerald the following evening.

Formerly the library, the setting is the perfect place for a stellar meal.

I sampled Emerald’s nine-course menu with wine pairing.

Emerald restaurant is foodie heaven

And whilst the portions are small, they pack a punch.

Each course was beautifully presented, and despite combining some unusual flavours, they worked.

I would never usually choose to have smoked eel – but I would now consider myself a fan.

Nor would I ever have thought that Tunworth – a truffley, garlicky Camembert-style cheese – would go so well with banana bread, or that rhubarb, yoghurt and lovage would work so well together.

Lamb rump in Cloisters Restaurant.
Lamb rump in Cloisters Restaurant. Image: Jennifer Hale
Jersey oysters.
Jersey oysters at Cloisters. Image: Jennifer Hale
Interior of Emerald restaurant at Matfen Hall.
Emerald is Matfen’s fine-dining restaurant. Image: Matfen Hall

If you’re a fan of fine dining, then Matfen is located in the perfect place with five Michelin-starred restaurants within 25 miles.

Just five minutes from the hotel you’ll find rustic restaurant Pine, which prides itself in showcasing the best food Northumbria has to offer.

Less than 15 minutes away you’ll find Restaurant Hjem.

Next door to Emerald is 1832, Matfen’s signature bar.

Interior of Bar 1832.
Bar 1832 has an impressive facade and is the perfect place for a nightcap. Image: Matfen Hall

With an impressive oak facade, it was the perfect place for a nightcap.

Matfen also has an impressive wine cellar, where I enjoyed learning all about champagne tasting thanks to a tasting session.

I also had the opportunity to try my hand at cocktail-making. Perfecting a bramble is harder than it looks!

Golf, spa and local history at Matfen Hall

Aside from eating and drinking, there’s plenty to do in and around Matfen Hall, which is also family and dog-friendly.

There’s championship golf course Matfen Park, complete with a state-of-the-art driving range, if you fancy a round or hitting a few balls.

If you’d rather spend your time relaxing, then The Retreat spa is the place to go.

It has a swimming pool, sauna, relaxation room and gym and is set to be refurbished soon, with an impressive new spa set to open as early as next spring.

The Retreat offers bespoke spa treatments. Image: Matfen Hall
Cosy seating at The Snug.
The Snug is also the perfect place to sit back and relax. Image: Matfen Hall

I popped on my robe and slippers for a bespoke treatment. Instead of choosing from a menu, a spa therapist put together a 45-minute package based on my wants and needs.

I ended up with a combination of a hydrating facial and back, neck and shoulder massage.

Feeling relaxed and refreshed, I decided to turn my phone off and retreat to The Snug.

It’s one of Matfen’s many areas to relax in – and perfect to look out upon the grounds and read the paper with a cup of tea.

You can of course relax in your room.

Impressive rooms offer a warm welcome

I stayed in a deluxe room which had a super king bed, Carrara marble bathroom with Penhaglion’s toiletries and of course, a chilled bottle of Lauren Perrier just waiting to be poured.

However, my favourite feature had to be the window seat.

With a view of Matfen’s championship golf course, it was the perfect place to curl up with a book.

A deluxe room at Matfen Hall, complete with window seat.
A deluxe room at Matfen Hall, complete with window seat. Image: Matfen Hall
A recently refurbished bathroom.
One of Matfen’s recently refurbished bathrooms. Image: Matfen Hall

Just minutes from the hotel is the chocolate-box village of the same name.

Also nearby is Hadrian’s Wall, and 15 minutes away you’ll find Chester’s Roman Fort, which is widely recognised as the best Roman cavalry fort in Britain.

Matfen is that rare place that offers a slice of true luxury, combining stylish facilities with excellent food and impeccable service.

It was unfortunately back to reality for me after a blissful weekend at a relaxing retreat.

I did, however, leave with a little reminder of Matfen for the train home – an egg sandwich.

Travel facts

Matfen Hall is 25 minutes by car from Newcastle train station, which is around four hours from Aberdeen via LNER.

Rooms start at £191.20 per night for a classic room booked in advance.

Visit for more.