Travel Wishlist: The Cookie Jar, Alnwick - Scotland on Sunday travel
A former convent is the answer to you staycation prayers
The Cookie Jar, Alnwick, Northumberland
The historic market town of Alnwick has attracted visitors for centuries, enticing them to visit this quaint corner of northeast England. The town features a castle originally built in the 11th century which is the ancestral pile of the Percy family. What’s not to love about owning a statement castle set in stunning parkland nestling beside the River Aln? A bit out of your league?
Don’t despair, you can still plan a socially distanced getaway from the hurly-burly of city life with a stay at the nearby Cookie Jar, a bijou hotel with only 11 rooms situated on the historic Bailiffgate, which has been tastefully refurbished from a former convent building.
Budget or boutique?
Boutique, stylish, classy just like their guests – well I would say that. The clean, blue-hued interiors create a calm, contemplative oasis to provide a restful break.
We stayed in the heavenly Chapel suite, with exposed beams, stained glass windows, all respectfully decorated as its original purpose was as a place of prayer. This room includes an oversized copper freestanding bathtub, ideal for a long soak. And as if that wasn’t luxury enough, there is a gigantic drench shower and private bathroom, with oversized fluffy towels and toiletries from Penhaligon’s. You can rest your weary head on the finest English linen and a comfortable Hypnos bed.
Yet with a living space kitted out for the 21st century – desk, oversized flat-screen television, super-fast wifi – you could easily work from here. Tea and coffee making courtesy of Pumphreys of Northumberland, a range of English teas and infusions and a supremely comfortable sofa would be ideal for an elevenses screen break after a Zoom conference. So relax, grab a complimentary cookie from the jar, and make yourself at home.
Wining and dining
The hotel is reopening from the 4 July, for residential guests, so for a limited period it is offering evening meals seven days a week, meaning you barely need to venture out of the building. On the evening menu are: platters (serrano ham, hummus, pitta, salami, pâté, and dressed salad leaves, and the cheese platter – a selection of fine local cheeses, served with chutney, figs, celery, and grapes), braised chicken with smoked paprika and black olives and lamb tagine with vegetable couscous, warm chorizo, avocado and feta salad.
You can eat outside in the Northumberland sunshine, in the delightful south-facing, residents-only garden. It’s worth noting that all seating and dining areas are socially distanced and breakfast times are staggered to keep guests safe.
Worth getting out of bed for
Enjoy an amble through the winding streets of Alnwick, where you can stroll by many of the historic buildings, churches and monuments. Tiptoe down Narrowgate to pose beside the impressive Harry Hotspur statue, or admire the lion with poker straight tail on the 25-metre Tenantry Doric Column at the edge of town, which was erected in 1816 by grateful tenants when the Duke reduced their rents.
Next door to the castle, the current Duchess of Northumberland has established Alnwick Garden, which in normal times is a thriving tourist attraction, with visitors flocking to visit the cascading fountains. But as all visitor attractions are not yet open, you will be pleased to know there are still plenty of wild places and beaches to escape to in Northumberland, an area of outstanding natural beauty with some of the finest landscapes and castles in the country.
Dogs are allowed either to stay with guests in the room or in purpose-built kennels outside, but if shooting is your bag, guns are most welcome – with a secure armoury on-site.
Even the most Covid-cautious guests will have a great time hiding away here in the sanctuary of The Cookie Jar. The owners have taken steps to ensure the safety and well-being of their guests and staff. All guest registration takes place in your room instead of the reception area. Rooms can be accessed by three separate staircases or lift, and all payments will take place prior to arrival.
I highly recommend a short break to this heavenly spot to recharge those batteries.
Prices for The Chapel £360 per night, cosy Rooms £175, Luxury £220 and Mother Superiors £250 – all rates including breakfast. The Cookie Jar, 12 Bailiffgate, Alnwick NE66 1LU (Tel: 01665 510 465, www.cookiejaralnwick.com)
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