“ Address: Chester le Street / County Durham / DH3 4NX / England „
Lumley Castle has stood proudly above the banks of the River Wear at Chester-Le-Street, County Durham, for more than 600 years. Living in the North East all my life, I have always been aware of the castle and always remember looking up at it standing tall above the riverside park at Chester-le-Street which I visited a few times as a child.
I never actually went up to visit the castle however and these days its main function is as a hotel and wedding/function venue. A few people I know have attended the Elizabethan Banquets held there too, which appear to be very popular. I always planned to visit, or maybe book an overnight stay at Lumley Castle, but it is often the case when something is more or less on your doorstep you don't often bother with it.
It was when my daughter decided to have her wedding at Lumley Castle last December, I finally got to visit the castle and also booked a room to stay overnight.
I booked a courtyard room for myself and my partner via LateRooms.com, as at the time of booking the price was a little cheaper than booking with Lumley Castle direct and also cashback site Topcashback.co.uk offer a decent cashback rate for using LateRooms.com. Therefore by clicking through via Topcashback to make my booking I received a few pounds cashback too.
I paid £99 for a double room in the courtyard and this included breakfast. I thought this to very reasonable indeed and a few of the wedding guests also booked a room.
== Winter Wonderland ==
My daughter was getting married on the afternoon and when we arrived at the castle it wasn't long before the ceremony was due to commence. We parked in the courtyard and entered the Reception area which is in the main part of the castle. As soon as we walked in I thought how beautiful it looked, all stone and low light/candlelight, velour drapes, stained glass windows, all very cosy and welcoming, but I must confess I love castles and cathedrals.
The staff were dressed in Elizabethan attire and we explained we were there for the wedding and also to check in as hotel guests too. We were welcomed warmly and checked in and told just to pop back to the desk for our room key anytime after the ceremony, to save us having to carry it about with us.
My daughter and soon to be husband's names announcing their wedding were on a candlelit sign along with information on other events happening in the castle that day. Further signs directed us to the room where the ceremony was to be held. There are a number of rooms to hire for weddings at Lumley Castle depending on the size of your party. My daughter was only having a small wedding but I found the rooms where the ceremony and wedding breakfast were held to be very spacious and I was more than impressed with it all.
After a beautiful ceremony, we enjoyed a candlelit wedding breakfast. Huge candleabras sat upon the tables and Christmas trees were lit. It was a perfect winter 'Christmassy' wedding, with the stained glass windows and midnight blue and snowflake theme my daughter chose, adding to the setting.
I wasn't sure what to expect in regards to the actual wedding, but I can thoroughly recommend holding a wedding at Lumley Castle. The service and setting throughout was excellent and it was a truly beautiful day and night. The backdrop of the castle made for some stunning wedding photographs too!
My daughter and her husband had an amazing wedding, just the way they wanted it to be. By getting married in December and on a weekday instead of a Saturday, it saved quite a lot of money and was in my opinion, as well as theirs, even more magical.
Further information and all you need to know in regards to booking a wedding at Lumley Castle can be found on the website at www.lumleycastle.com. You can also find information on functions, Elizabathan Banquets and special offers here too.
== Staying at Lumley Castle ==
Lumley Castle offers 73 unique and individual bedrooms, some of which feature their signature secret bathrooms!
There are bedrooms in the main part of the Castle as well as in the Courtyard buildings. Some are four-poster feature rooms and all are fully ensuite with flat screen TV and complimentary wireless internet included.
My daughter and son-in-law were staying in a room in the main Castle building with a four poster bed, which was included in their wedding package.
As mentioned earlier, I had booked a Courtyard double room and this was located just a short walk from the main building.
I liked the setting of the Courtyard rooms, there were various doors to enter the Courtyard building depending on your room number. We entered via the door corresponding to our room number and found a room either side of the door downstairs on entering, then another two rooms up a short flight of stairs. Our room was one of the two upstairs rooms and after unlocking the door and entering our room our initial reaction was a very good one.
Our double room was on the small side, but large enough for our needs and nicely decorated and so size was not a problem at all. A curtained archway led to an alcove with a rail to hang your clothes, store bags and cases etc. There was a writing desk with a welcome pack and tea/coffee making facilities with sachets of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits and mints. A comfy looking double bed was made up with crisp white linen and the TV was wall mounted. The room was heated via a radiator and was very warm on arrival. So much so that we had to adjust the thermostat and open the window!
A door led through to a spacious bathroom and this definitely had the wow factor. Apart from being spotless and beautifully tiled, there were luxurious towels and toiletries included. There was a powerful shower with a large shower head over the bath and plenty of hot water throughout our stay.
Extra toilet rolls and a hairdryer hung from the back of the door in embroidered toiletry bags.
The bed was very comfortable, if a little on the soft side for me personally. I think we were still so excited about the great day we had all had at the wedding when we went to bed and so it took a while to fall asleep, but this was no fault of the bed or the room. I had experienced the emotion and excitement of my eldest daughter getting married and simply found it difficult to nod off to sleep!
The next morning we went over to the main castle building for breakfast. Lumley Castle seems huge, but there are plenty signposts directing you to where everything is. There are some lovely corridors, rooms and outdoor garden areas to view on your way around the castle, it is a beautiful building inside and out. I was impressed with the amount of Christmas trees around the castle too. I was just starting to get my bearings and find my way around by the time we had to leave!
We found the room where breakfast was being served and were greeted by waiting staff and shown to a slightly raised area containing one private table. There was another identical raised area with a private table at the other end of the room and my daughter and husband had been seated there. There were various other tables around the room and overall I was impressed with the breakfast area, just as I had been with everywhere else in the castle.
We were invited to help ourselves to juice, cereals, fruit etc from a long table in a hallway just leading from the room and our orders for a cooked breakfast were taken at the table. We both opted for a full English breakfast. Coffee and toast was also brought to our table and butter and little jars of jam and marmalade sat in the middle of the table.
We didn't wait long for our breakfast and when it arrived we were warned the plates were extremely hot, which I promptly forgot about and almost burned my fingers when I moved my plate slightly. Our cooked breakfasts both looked and tasted lovely. Quality products had been used and I couldn't fault it at all.
== We will return! ==
After breakfast we made our way back to our room and gathered up our belongings before checking out. We helped my daughter load up her car, as the staff had kindly packed everything she had taken with her and what was left over, as well as gifts and cards. We were thanked for staying and once again I have to mention that the staff are very friendly and helpful at Lumley Castle. They made sure my daughter had a day to remember and that all the guests were looked after from start to finish.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend staying at Lumley Castle. My son-in-law's parents have stayed there a few times and keep returning as they love it so much and enjoy trying the different rooms. I think there is something magical about staying in a castle and Lumley Castle doesn't disappoint. We will be returning for an overnight stay for sure, as I think it will make for a lovely night away for a special occasion and therfore I am more than happy to recommend it to everyone.
Chester le Street
Tel: +44 (0) 191 389 1111
Fax: +44 (0) 191 389 5871
Email: email@example.com or visit www.lumleycastle.com for further information.
Lumley Castle was one of my Lastminute.com bargains for our trip to the north east of England at the end of June this year. I found it as a result of a rather vague search for hotels in the Durham area and of course it was hard to resist the idea of a night at a castle for the surprisingly reasonable price of £69 including breakfast. I booked about 3 weeks before we were due to go - so not very last minute at all really. Good prices are only available on the less popular nights - typically Sunday and Monday nights are quiet - and our visit was on a Monday.
I was not expecting much in the way of grandeur since I've stayed in numerous grand country house type places where only those people willing to pay a small fortune can get a room in the historic part of the hotel and we penny-pinching folk are consigned to a broom cupboard somewhere on the back of the place, next to the dustbins.
The closest town to Lumley Castle is Chester Le Street, six or seven miles north of Durham. The castle is located close to the Chester Le Street golf course and Durham County Cricket ground, up a long tree-lined driveway. Aside from the presence of what looked like an old 'travellers' bus in a layby by the entrance, the first impressions are very striking. It's not surprising - the castle has stood on the site for over six centuries and it was obviously built to deliver a very clear 'Go away, you're not welcome' message to would-be attackers. It's a massive, honey-coloured stone building that was built to impress. It started life as a rather more modest manor house but was converted to a castle back in the late 14th century. In much more recent times, it became a hotel as part of the bizarrely named 'No Ordinary Hotel' group back in 1976 - and to my eyes if I say that this place is 'dated' it's to the 1970s and not the 14th century.
~Just because it's a castle, don't assume you'll be staying in the grand bit~
Initially we parked outside the castle walls before later moving the car inside the courtyard. We didn't know where we would be given a room so we were making no assumptions. We passed through the courtyard and in through the rather unimpressive entrance to the reception area. If I recall correctly, there was a sign explaining that the hotel were aware that this didn't look as impressive as it should but it was the most practical way to get in. Once inside our check-in was friendly but took place in a room so dark that you'd probably develop pink eyes and whiskers if you worked there. The man on reception was friendly but seemed disappointed that we didn't want a wake up call or a newspaper. We'd already paid up front so there was no need to give them a credit card but I did ask if they could let us know the wi-fi code. Mr Reception knew the ten digit code for the wi-fi by heart but happily told us where we could find the details in the room since I wasn't likely to remember it. Before heading to our room we checked the menu for the restaurant to see if we fancied dinner but it was a bit too traditional 'meat and veg' to appeal and we headed out later to an Indian restaurant we'd spotted on the way to the hotel.
We were given room 33 which lies across the courtyard from the castle in the converted stable blocks. Room 33 was upstairs so the room was in the eaves of the building making it unlikely to be suitable for very tall people due to all the wooden beams suspended about a foot below the ceiling. I would recommend asking to not have an upstairs stable room if you are likely to bump your head. The room was cute in a slightly gimicky 'olde worlde' rather Disneyfied way. As someone who's lived in two converted barns, a converted stable probably doesn't appeal to me as much as it might to someone who's lived their life in a modern beam-free house.
The only natural light came from a small dormer window overlooking the court yard. The double bed was a bit soft and was collapsing a bit at the edge and had been placed asymmetrically to take up half the width of the room in order to leave space for the door to the bathroom. As a result of this lay out and the steeply sloping ceiling my husband's side of the bed had very restricted head room and no space for a bedside table and that was on my side. The bedside table on my side looked like an old-fashioned 'pot cupboard' and its partner was over on the other side of the room playing host to the coffee and tea tray. I like a bit of space next to the bed but most of it was taken up by the phone and a lamp so there was barely room for my tablets, glass of water and a book.
The other side of the room was rather cluttered with furniture. There was a nice big old wing arm chair, a tall 'pot cupboard' (matching the bedside one) with the kettle and tea and coffee stuff. Then there was a dressing table and a deep niche in the wall for your suitcases which oddly was lit with concealed lighting. Why did they do that? To make sure my poor bag wouldn't be scared of the dark perhaps. The wardrobe was tucked behind a deeply upholstered door and had a trouser press and a mini ironing board with iron. There was also a flat screen television perched on another dark wood chest of drawers. This was not a big room so if you're counting the number of different items of furniture you'll probably have worked out it was all a bit cluttered.
In contrast with the bedroom which was a bit of a squeeze, the bathroom was big and bright and there were plenty of places to actually put stuff. I realise that sounds a bit daft but I've stayed in far too many hotels this year where I've had to put my washbag on the floor or the cistern or even leave it in the bedroom. The loo was rather old fashioned but pleasantely so with a proper high wall-mounted cistern. There was a bath with a shower above it but annoyingly the bottles of toiletries on the wall were only reachable if you were having a shower and couldn't be reached whilst lying in the bath. I liked the brass towel rail and the sense of space in the bathroom.
~How do you like your eggs done?~
Finding the breakfast room was our first big challenge the next morning (after the challenge of not hitting our heads on any part of the room). Once you get inside the castle it's very impressive but very confusing. In some places it's also very dark and the old stone flooring can be quite uneven, so much so that there are signs warning you to take care. I loved the old building and the original features but in places the castle is a bit Disneyfied and worthy of a good chortle. Once we finally found the breakfast room, after laughing our way down a corridor of spot-lit heads on plinths, we grabbed a really nice table by the window. There was nobody to greet us so we took matters into our own hands. After so many dark corridors I wanted to actually be able to see my food. I think we committed some kind of offence by not waiting to be seated because I heard one of the waitresses muttering that someone had taken a particular table which I suspect was ours. There was even a table on a platform with curtains all round it which I took to be the top spot and probably reserved for special guests.
Hot food was cooked to order so I ordered a vegetarian Eggs Benedict (no ham), forgetting that I don't really like Hollandaise sauce and it was beautifully cooked although I did end up scraping off most of the sauce. My husband went for a full English which left him so stuffed that he later skipped lunch. It's rather an old-fashioned and formal breakfast service with partial 'help yourself' on the cold items which we skipped to avoid overdoing things too much. On our way back from the breakfast room we stuck our noses round the door of one of the spectacular private dining rooms which looked beautiful.
~What else can you expect?~
The grounds are well kept and you can easily take a walk around the castle to have a good look at the place. If you're a golfer, I think they have arrangements with the local golf club and if you're a cricket fan, the proximity to the stadium could be advantageous. The hotel offers lots of special deals on food and accommodation, including afternoon teas, Elizabethan banquets and romantic dinner, bed and breakfast deals. If you want to visit, it's well worth checking out their website to see what's available.
I would suggest that Lumley Castle is a fantastic venue for a big event - a wedding, a big business 'do' or similar - but it's a bit too shabby on the courtyard accommodation and a bit too 'stuffy' on the dining rooms to make it somewhere I would rush back to. There are many lovely places to sit and chat with open fires in the library (even in June) and a lovely courtyard with a lawn. However, I didn't feel entirely comfortable with some of the more caricature aspects of the place. If you just want accommodation, it's a bit second rate though bearing in mind what we paid for the night, I still think we got a bit of a bargain, especially with breakfast included.
Lumley Castle Hotel
Chester le Street
Myself and Mr Tart recently took a trip up north which he offered to organise. On the drive up there he kept joking that we were going to a campsite. While I didn't believe that I was definitely surprised when we turned up at Lumley Castle. Being a historian, staying in a 14th century castle was like a dream for me and excited didn't quite cover it!
Lumley Castle was originally built turned into a castle in the late 14th century by Sir Ralph Lumley. After various transfers of ownership, including Durham University, it was taken over the 'No Ordinary Hotel' group in the 70s.
The Castle has ample car parking, both surrounding the building and in the courtyard between the main castle building and the annex. We went into the reception and check in was extremely quick and easy. The reception had a very old-castle feel, complete with old wooden furniture. Some of the staff were dressed in period costume which was a little random although plays to the tourist market!
Once we'd checked in a nice man showed us to our room. The hotel is a bit of a maze so this is definitely necessary. On the way he pointed out the various public rooms and told us the various times we could use the bar and eat breakfast. I apparently walked through the hotel with my mouth open in a sense of awe. I was amazed to be staying somewhere like this and all the old paintings and authentic looking furniture made me very happy.
Our room was in the main part of the hotel on the second floor. The room was small but I was staying in a castle so it could have been the size of a cardboard box and I still would have been like a kid in a sweetshop. The décor was quite Victorian to my mind, and very green. I believe that the rooms are all decorated slightly differently. The décor was very well done I thought. There was a small awning around the head of the bed with green and gold curtains. In the corner was a comfortable wing-backed chair. Opposite the bed was a flat screen TV as well as tea and coffee making facilities with some really tasty biscuits (chocolate chip and orange were my favourites!). Next to the TV was a small hanging area which had a trouser press incorporated into it which was quite useful for Mr Tart's trousers as we'd been travelling for a few days.
In one corner of the room, up some steps, was a corner bath, with an elaborate curtain around it should you need privacy. This also had a shower above it. The bath was very comfortable to lie in and relax before dinner and there was plenty of hot water, although they do tell you that the hot water may take up to 5 minutes to reach the taps as the castle is old which is absolutely fair enough. There were no shampoos or conditioners on offer, but there was a bottle of shower gel attached to the wall which had a gorgeous smell. In the other corner of the room was the toilet, which had a door rather than a curtain. This reminded me of a Victorian washroom. There was soap provided in here.
The bed was extremely comfortable to sleep in. There were two pillows and some cushions provided each. I think some people may have found the bed a little soft. We both slept really well although the pipes do make quite a lot of noise at times. The Castle is supposedly very haunted (the Aussie cricket team claimed they saw ghosts when they stayed there) but I'm glad to say I didn't see any. Not sure if I'd feel so happy about staying there if I had seen one but it was worth the risk!
The grounds of the hotel are lovely to walk around. I just loved walking around the outside and looking at the castle.
Inside the castle there is the Library Bar on the ground floor where we went for a pre dinner drink. I love old books so this was a perfect place for me. There was a log fire in here when we went in which really added to the atmosphere. We decided to treat ourselves to a bottle of prosecco which was delicious. This was £20 per bottle which I didn't think was too bad. During the afternoon you can also order afternoon tea in this bar.
While we were enjoying our bubbly we ordered our dinner. We had booked a table for 8pm and went to the bar quite early. They told us we could order at any time and then the food would be ready for the time we booked the table. We ordered at about 7pm and they tried to call us through almost immediately, so make sure they know exactly what time you want to eat. We did say we'd booked the table for later and that we wanted to finish our drinks first and they were absolutely fine with this.
We then went into the Black Knight restaurant. The restaurant is decorated perfectly in a gothic style, with red flocked wallpaper. Again, for me it was like a dream, eating in a castle! We started off with some bread being brought to us, this was warmed which is always one of my tests for a really classy restaurant.
The menu has some lovely choices on it, including some that you probably wouldn't expect. For starters there are things like pea and lettuce soup, chicken terrine and Japanese style monkfish cheeks (who knew!!). I had the scallops, served with wild mushrooms, baby onions and cauliflower foam and they were absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked. Mr Tart had the crispy Chinese beef which came with a teriyaki dressing. This seemed out of keeping with our castle surroundings but he said that it was very tasty.
For main course you can choose things like pork served three ways with apple beignets, apple and sage jelly, Savoy cabbage and sautéed Parisienne potatoes with a cider sage jus, duck with beetroot gnocchi and a blue cheese and rocket sauce. There was also a large selection from the grill. I had their signature dish: beef fillet, stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in Parma ham served on potato rosti with wild mushrooms and port wine jus. This was amazing. The beef was perfectly cooked, very rare just like I asked. The food needed no extra seasoning. The blue cheese in the beef was not overpowering but just enough and had all melted, despite the fact that I was having my beef rare. Definitely in my top five of main meals ever eaten out. Mr Tart ordered the sea bass with sautéed garden peas with smokey pancetta, crisp Parmentier potatoes dressed in a seed mustard and dill hollandaise. He said that it was very tasty as well but he did have food envy because mine tasted so good (he won't ever order the same thing as me as he wants to see what the kitchen can do!).
Mr Tart and myself were pretty full after our meal and didn't have room for dessert but the list looked pretty good. There was sticky toffee pudding (my favourite), mango panna cotta and iced peanut parfait.
The prices in the restaurant were not cheap but the standard of food was very high. My starter cost £8.95 and my main cost £26.50, Mr Tart's were £7.50 and £19. As a comparison the soup would have been £6.50 and the duck £16. Most of the desserts were around £6.50. These are definitely 'treat' prices but the food was worth it. I would have dinner there again even if I wasn't staying in the hotel as it's worth it just for the experience of eating in the castle!
We also had breakfast in the Black Knight Restaurant. There was a cold buffet of cereals, pastries, juices, cold meats and yoghurts. You could then choose from a hot menu as well and I had the eggs Benedict as it's one of my favourite things but I never have it at home because it's such a faff to cook. This came with Parma ham so was extra delicious. The breakfast selection was excellent and there was plenty of it.
Staying in Lumley Castle is not cheap. Our room cost £125 for the night, with breakfast included. It's cheaper to stay in the courtyard part of the castle but there are rooms that are much more expensive. While I wouldn't normally pay this much for a hotel I think to stay in a place that is this nice and that has this much history it's worth it.
This was definitely one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in. There wasn't a swimming pool and there weren't lots of modern five star luxuries but for me, staying in a 14th century castle was perfect. The staff at the hotel were very polite and attentive at all times. The décor was beautiful and the food was stunning. I would certainly stay there again and would recommend it to everyone.
I was lucky to be able to stay at Lumley castle several times with my partner and it was absolutely beautiful and an utterly elegant experience. After a long drive from London to Lumley the drive is a drag and with long motorways, and of course the unelegance of the northern roads and surrounding area to then drive up the drive of lumley is beautiful and a breath of fresh air.
Upon arrival the reception is out of this world with an arched entarnce and original paintings on the ceiling and walls which are worn to show their date. The staircases are original and beautiful with an elegance of their own with lots of quirky hiding holes to explore, which we did resulting in endless fun and adventure.
The bedrooms are beautiful and all unique. The first room we stayed in was the best being upstairs in the quarters and with a cosy yet quirky atmousphere and beautiful low beams it was a delight to stay there.
Room service was excellent and prompt. The restaurant was beautiful wih delightful and tasty food with a private dining area which again is beautiful. Sending endless hours in the bar you can retreat to cosy corners with fires and snuggle by the fire with a waiter to serve you drinks.
The breakfasts are lovely and the masquerade and ancient events are a world of their own. You cannot fault lumley for romantic breaks away and cosy nights in front of fires being pampered.
A perfect place for desire and lovers wanting a romantic break away.
I am lucky enough to live about forty minutes away from Lumley Castle and my parents in law live about five minutes away so I have had the pleasure of going there many times.
I have been to three weddings there and many Lunches and dinners and having just been for a big family christmas lunch I thought that it was a good time to write a review of it.
=====History of Lumley Castle======
Lumley Castle has been around for over 600 years and stands majestically on a hill in the County Durham village of Chester le Street.
In 1976 it was taken over by the group No ordinary Hotels and they created the luxury hotel that it is today.
Lumley Castle has a lot of history going back to 1388 when Sir Ralph Lumley a well know solider took over the old manor house of his ancestors and turned it into a castle, the remains of which can still be seen today.
The is a lot more history to Lumley and if you would like to know more please visit the Lumley Castle website www.lumleycastle.com.
Lumley Castle has very impressive drive up to the castle, as the castle is high up you can see it long before you actually arrive and it has a slow and winding road that leads up to the castle and it is from this vantage point that I think you get the best view.
There is not a huge car parking space at the front however if you are staying overnight there are other parking places closer to your accommodation.
As you can see from the picture above this is what you see as your drive up and park but once you get out and look for reception here is where is gets magical!.
===== Reception ====
After you are parked you walk around the corner and this is where you really see Lumley Castle in all her glory, you walk through a courtyard and there is a row of courtyard bedrooms each with their own front doors and then the castle itself which is where the reception is.
The reception is through a tiny little door right in the corner and when you walk in it is quite small and dark which fits right in with the castle feel and the decor is a mixture of solid concrete floor and heavy materials like all the drapes and curtains and the all the staff are in uniforms from the 1700 and you are really transported into a bygone era.
Check in is swift and easy and the staff are very discreet and your hardly notice them milling around the castle.
The walkways inside the castle are mostly quite small and dimly lit and you can walk up a small candle lit spiral staircase only to find yourself in a huge landing or room with light flooding in so everytime you go up stairs or round a corner you never know what to expect.
Lumley Castle has 73 bedrooms including 14 courtyard bedrooms which are separate from the castle.
Each of the rooms are individually decorated although all are in keeping with the style of the castle and have fabulous heavy curtains and luxurious bedspreads and most feature a four poster.
You will be delighted with any of the rooms and as I have attended weddings there I have stayed in two different types and visited friends in other types.
The stand out one is the Kings James Suite, It has a twenty foot four poster with a separate lounge and a jacuzzi bath and the view from the bath is spectacular and the room was once the castle chapel and it truly is a thing of beauty.
One of the special things about some of the rooms is the fact that in some of them you will opned your wardrobe and find that it is actually the door to the bathroom! and in another room the bed is actually hidden behind a bookcase.
I was lucky enough to stay in the room where the bed was actually hidden up a spiral staircase and it all adds to the magic of Lumley. On another occasion I stayed in the room where the bathroom was behind the wardrobe and I am ashamed to say that I found it extremely funny to keep going in and shouting for "Mr Tumnus" as it was a little like Narnia for me!.
Although all the rooms are in keeping with the castle feel they do have the modern requirements of satellite TV , Telephones, internet access and Tea and Coffee!.
===== Dining =====
The Black Knight restaurant where you dine at Lumley Castle and it is a magnificent room with tall windows and is beautifully decorated, It is quite a light room as the covering on the huge celling is bright white so its truly a feast for the eyes after climbing the dark stair cases.
You have the choice of the Table d'Hote or the A la carte menu and Lumley do try to source all their ingredients locally and you will find something to suite everyone from the traditional to the truly exquisite.
You also have the Library bar where you can have afternoon tea for £10.00 which is a lovely treat if you live nearby as you do not need to be staying at the hotel to enjoy the afternoon tea.
===== Private Dining =====
There are two private dining rooms at the castle, The Gilt room and the Sceptre room which accommodate 14 and 10 people respectively and all wonderful for a small party or special occasion.
===== Lumley Weddings =====
Lumley Castle is a favorite wedding venue in the North East and they cater for civil weddings as well as wedding receptions.
I have attended weddings here and they are truly spectacular, it is the most romantic backdrop for your wedding and the state rooms can cater for upto 130 people.
They do also cater for smaller weddings from 10 to 30 people and I have attended both a large and more intimate wedding and both were wonderful.
Lumley has its own wedding coordinator who can be contacted on 0191 3891111.
Lumley often holds wedding fairs which are free and give you a fantastic opportunity to see what Lumley has to offer.
===== Special Packages ====
Lumley offers some fabulous packages such as Valentines day with a 4 course meal accommodation and a special gift.
Banquet - These are great fun and I have been many times. the evening is set in the 1500s and is a great night out with a party.
Everyone is seated on long tables with high backed chairs and the decor and some of the table decor is all in keeping with the 1500s theme and the staff really make the 1500s come alive. the cost is approx £34 per person
Murder Mystery - I must confess that I have not attended one of these yet but I am booking one for the new year and can not wait the cost of the evening is £34 per person.
===== Staff =====
I Did want to mention the staff at Lumley Castle. They are wonderful and I have received fantastic service everytime that I have been.
They are all dressed in the traditional dress of the era of the castle and the are discreet and you barely know that they are they but they run everything to perfection.
====== My Conclusion =====
Lumley castle is a fantastic place to visit even if its just for afternoon tea after a mornings shopping at the metro centre.
If you are looking for a romantic weekend away or a truly magical wedding venue or a murder mystery weekend with friends Lumley Castle would be top of my list.
And you never know you may be looking for Mr Tumnus!
Check on their website www.lumleycastle.com for up to date availability and prices as they do have special offers on at times and also deals for late availability.
As a guide we payed approx £190.00 for one of the top rooms but this was valentines day so it is worth looking at the website for update information and prices.
====== Address and Contact Details =====
Lumley Castle Hotel
Chester le Street
Lumley Castle is just of the A1 at Chester Le street so it is easy to find and is placed well for Newcastle and the metro centre which was once the largest shopping centre in Europe.
I attend a wedding at Lumley Castle a week last Thursday (as photographer). Whilst we didn't stay over we did get to see the 'Bridal Suite' known as the King James Suite.
Location - set on the outskirts of Chester-le-Street the hotel is on top of a small hill surround by trees it does give you the impression you're in the middle of nowhere, despite being 5 minutes from the A1. It's a great location for exploring the area, visiting Beamish, 15-20 minutes drive to the Coast or Newcastle/Metro Centre or 10 minutes to the historic town of Durham. It's also within walking distance (approx 10mins) of Durham County Cricket Club.
There is a sweeping driveway up to the front of the hotel and ample parking there or to the side where there is an 'overflow' parking area. To enter the hotel you have to go round the side in to a court yard area and in to the far left corner, I felt this could have been better signposted, I got asked twice if I knew where reception was.
The hotel - From the outside the hotel is beautiful, a lovely place for a wedding (and for pictures). The reception area is very dark - it is a castle after all and this is the ambience they clearly want to portray. The reception staff were very friendly but the directions they gave us to the bridal suite were a little confusing and it was only my sense of direction that got us there!
In the centre of the hotel is a small grassed area with wrought Iron tables and chairs laid out for guests or those wanting to dine outside. This was reserved for the wedding party as they had chosen to have their drinks and photos out there.
All areas we saw of the hotel (including those behind the scene areas we saw) were immaculately kept. But I did find clear signposting lacking in all areas.
Room - The King James Suite is probably the poshest hotel room I've ever been in! You walk in to a 'reception room' which has 3 or 4 single high back chairs, and is very 'Olde Worlde' full of furniture from way back when (which I'm assuming not to be originals but later reproduction but wouldn't know for sure). There's also a TV and a desk. This room is probably bigger than my own front room. Off to the left is a small wash area and a separate bath area with a Jacuzzi bath in. Walking through in to the bedroom there is the biggest four poster bed I have EVER seen, I is floor to ceiling (about 20ft high!). The bed itself is quite a way off the floor, they provide some portable steps to climb on it! There is another television in this room, wardrobe, drawers and a dresser, together with a tiny room with a toilet in. The room was very dark (which I only noticed as I was trying to take pictures of the Bride getting ready and we had to bring our own lights in). I can't comment on whether it offered value for money as I don't know how much this room cost but it was certainly spectacular looking!
Wedding - the wedding was held in a room along from the King James' Suite. It was a very bright room with plenty of windows and was laid out lovely by the hotel staff. Although it was very hot in there which is probably my only negative comment. Once the ceremony was over everyone moved downstairs to the Courtyard. The Hotel provided balloons for everyone to let off at the front of the hotel for a photo which I thought was a nice touch and didn't look as tacky as I thought it would.
After the photos everyone went in to the bar area which is or probably was at some point the cellar. Drinks were very expensive, I only had a cordial with tap water and that set me back £1.40! I think a pint was about £4. From here we walked through the dance area up to the Baron's Hall. Again very nicely set out by staff and a lovely large room with an airy feel to it - I think because of the high ceilings. Whilst everyone had their meals, we went downstairs to the Library Bar for Afternoon Tea.
The Afternoon Tea, whilst we didn't pay for it, I believe costs £10 per person.....we got 4 finger sandwiches each, a fruit scone and a pot of tea, it was ok, but if I'd have paid for it I'd have been a bit miffed I think as it was nothing special. The Library Room was very busy (especially for a Thursday afternoon) and the waitress was rushed off her feet, culminating in a backlog of tables waiting to be cleared and dirty pots on the counter top. Apart from this it did feel very decadent sipping tea in the room.
Overall impression - A lovely place to get married, they'd put in a lot of effort for the wedding and it showed. The place was very clean and the staff were friendly. I would definitely consider staying here for a special occasion/treat and would recommend it on the basis of what I saw to a friend if they were looking for a base for sightseeing in the North East.
Oh one small minor point - the uniforms the staff have to wear, I know they're supposed to be in-keeping with the castle but they looked hot, uncomfy and very unflattering!
In the run up to my husband's 40th birthday last year I was repeatedly warned that I wasn't to arrange any form of celebration - no party, no balloons, no embarrassing picture in the local newspaper, no banners hanging in our town's marketplace. No, if I wanted to still be married the day after his fortieth, I was advised to completely forget that it was his birthday at all.
Of course, I couldn't do that and in the weeks before I began searching for somewhere we could go for the night that would be a bit special but not too far from home. After extensive research... ok then, asking a few friends, it appeared that place was Lumley Castle Hotel.
Lumley Castle Hotel is a 14th Century Castle, named after its creator, Sir Ralph Lumley. It is situated in the town of Chester-le-Street, near Durham in Co. Durham and is situated very close to Durham Cricket Ground. The castle is owned by the earl of Scarborough but is managed as a hotel by No Ordinary Hotels.
Booking the hotel was fairly easy. The hotel has a fairly comprehensive website giving details of a variety of packages, information on room types, several information video clips and a virtual tour (although this is quite slow to load). I wanted something quite memorable for my husband's birthday so I chose the Knights of Lumley package which included a one night stay, including dinner for two, full English breakfast and a bottle of champagne.
When finally the big day arrived, my husband was both surprised and shocked when I announced where we were going. The castle itself is really easy to find and it seemed very grand and imposing as we drove into the castle car park. Checking in was easy and the staff, who all dress in medieval costume, couldn't have been more pleasant and helpful. Our room was across the courtyard, so was fairly easy to find, but I have heard of people who have had rooms down winding corridors and even in castle turrets which certainly adds to the experience but may make locating the room a little trickier.
On opening the door to our room I couldn't have been more impressed. A huge four poster bed dominated the room, piled high with pillows and cushions. The furniture was all very antique looking as would befit a bedroom in a castle. There were numerous dressers and wardrobes and two chairs stood facing a fireplace, between which stood a bucket of ice containing the champagne. The only slightly incongruous detail was the wall-mounted plasma screen TV above the fireplace, but that aspect of the room pleased my husband more than anything. In the corner of the room was a door that led to the beautiful, scrupulously clean bathroom, filled with gorgeously scented bath products.
It was mid-afternoon when we checked in and it was a lovely June day so we went outside and walked past the golf course to the nearby river and had a stroll along its banks to the local park. After a pleasant afternoon walking and sitting in the sun we returned to the hotel and I had a long luxurious bath while my husband got his TV fix.
We were booked in at the Black Knight restaurant within the hotel but it was still early so we wandered the torch-lit corridors and eventually stumbled upon the Library Bar which was full of character with its walls of books and the service was excellent. At the time of our visit I was eight weeks pregnant and therefore not drinking but my husband enjoyed his pint of beer as I did my orange juice. The young bar assistant was very friendly and repeatedly asked if there was anything else we needed.
I think my husband could have happily soaked up the atmosphere of the Library Bar all evening but I'd booked the restaurant and wasn't going to miss out! We were greeted at the door and shown to a quiet, beautifully set table. Again, the service was very attentive, if anything too attentive. It was a fairly quiet evening in the restaurant and it felt a bit like all of the staff were falling over themselves to serve us. We did end up asking for more time between the courses as they were being brought out so quickly. The meals (I had crab and avocado salad and lamb shank; I honestly can't remember what my husband had as I was so engrossed in my own food!) were attractively presented and tasted delicious, although there was so much that I couldn't eat it all.
At the end of the meal we went back into the Library Bar for a nightcap before returning to the room. The bed in the room was as comfortable and big as it had appeared at first glance and we had a great night sleep.
Next morning, we were supposed to have a full English breakfast but unfortunately my morning sickness had kicked in with a vengeance by then and I couldn't face it. The staff offered to have breakfast delivered to the room for my husband instead, which I thought was a nice touch. I would love to be able to tell you what it was like but I spent the time locked in the bathroom unable to stand the smell. I think that was my fault, rather than Lumley Castle's fault though!
** HOTEL INFORMATION **
** Rooms **
The castle has a variety of standards of rooms with prices to match.
Castle rooms can be found in a variety of places within the castle, down winding corridors and up spiral staircases. Courtyard rooms are on the outer side of the castle, in what was originally the stable block. Rooms have ensuite bathrooms, satellite TV and radio, phone, internet access, trouser press, tea and coffee making facilities, hospitality tray and hairdryer. Some of the rooms have plasma TVs and wireless internet access.
Some castle and courtyard rooms are designated as Feature Rooms and these are a little bit more special than the ordinary rooms. Each room is different and may have four poster beds, like ours did, or some other feature such as a feature bath. One of my colleagues stayed here and opened the wardrobe door to discover it was the way to the bathroom.
If you really want to push the boat out, you could consider staying in the King James Suite with its 20 foot high four poster bed, separate lounge room, Jacuzzi, fresh flowers and complimentary champagne.
** Dining **
It is not necessary to stay at the hotel to be able to dine there. As well as the Black Knight restaurant the hotel offers rooms for private dining where you can entertain 10 - 14 guests. The hotel also offers Sunday lunches and afternoon teas. It also holds weekly Elizabethan banquets and monthly Murder Mystery events as well as special events for Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas.
** Other facilities **
Lumley Castle Hotel has the facilities to hold corporate vents and weddings. There was a wedding taking place while we were there and it would make a beautiful background for wedding photographs.
** Pricing **
Prices depend upon which rooms you want to stay in, what time of year, what day of the week and what you want included in the package. Our package cost £250 but it would have been cheaper in an ordinary room or on a different night of the week (We went on Saturday). The website is currently showing special offers for Sunday evenings (£55 for accommodation) and Easter weekend (£275 for two nights accommodation, banquet, dinner and champagne) so I would advise checking the website for updated offers. I would imagine it's the type of hotel most people would stay in for a treat or special occasion, not just for an ordinary overnight stay.
** Interesting fact **
Like all good castles, allegedly Lumley Castle has its own ghost, the wife of Sir Ralph Lumley who was apparently murdered by priests and dumped in the well. According to local legend, the ghost, called Lady Lily, still wanders the corridors of her former home. She didn't visit us though, either that or we just slept so well we missed her!
** Recommendation **
If you are looking for a special place to stay in the north-east I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Lumley Castle Hotel. The castle itself is beautiful and very classy, the service is top class and the atmosphere is fantastic. We had a lovely evening here and I would love to go back... maybe when I'm forty!
Lumley Castle Hotel offers 73 bedrooms, including 14 new Courtyard bedrooms, all individually designed and decorated.