ESCAPE LONDON – The Hogs Head Inn, Class, Comfort and Hearty Fare, in the Heart of Northumberland

vn-medium-The-Hogs-Head-InnSituated in the heart of Northumberland, amongst picturesque scenery and rolling hills lies the historic, Norman town of Alnwick and the Hog’s Head Inn. Both places are famous for one thing – the film, Harry Potter. Alnwick castle starred as “Hogwarts” in the first two Harry Potter films, and the Hog’s Head Inn is named after Inn in the town of Hogsmead. Being an outdoors person, and despite the weather promising snow, I couldn’t wait to escape the pressures of work, and head North for a weekend of walking, good food and relaxation. The website suggested the Hog’s Head Inn as the perfect place to relax in comfort, whilst exploring the surrounding countryside and it definitely lived up to its name!

The website suggested the Hog’s Head Inn as the perfect place to relax in comfort, whilst exploring the surrounding countryside and it definitely lived up to its name!

Before I had even arrived, I experienced the friendly, helpful and courteous nature of their staff. Running late, thanks to Friday evening traffic, I faced the prospect of arriving after the kitchens had closed and missing out on an evening meal. Whilst this wasn’t the end of the world, it would mean having to head out and find food after a 4 hour journey, a prospect I didn’t really fancy. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised to learn, that they would put food aside for me if indeed I did arrive late and all I had to do was contact them. A plus point before I had even arrived. Thankfully, I made it in time!

Alnwick is about 300 miles from London, so a long journey, however finding the Hog’s Head Inn was extremely easy. It is actually situated just off the A1 and can be clearly seen from the main road. It has plenty of parking outside and across the car park is a garage with a shop if snacks are needed. The Inn itself does not have much of a view but that does not matter. The exterior provides a welcoming feel for the weary traveller and as you enter the Inn, you are immediately enveloped in warmth, comfort and the smells of home-cooked food! I immediately felt relaxed and ready to unwind.

The exterior provides a welcoming feel for the weary traveller and as you enter the Inn, you are immediately enveloped in warmth, comfort and the smells of home-cooked food!

Immediately ahead of the entrance sits the reception desk, situated next to bar and dining area. Signs describing home cooked specials and enticing smells filled the air. I was greeted by friendly staff who quickly checked me in and directed me to my room. Having seen the pictures of the room on the website, I couldn’t wait to see if it lived up to the description of “contemporary and comfortable” So far, first impressions had been excellent, so I was hoping the room lived up to the same standard. Thankfully I was not disappointed. Opening the door, I was greeted with a massive bed, with comfy looking pillows, that looked incredibly inviting. The room itself was spacious and airy, and indeed beautifully decorated in a contemporary design. The bathroom was also a decent size, with a nice looking bath and shower, and plenty of towels, something many hotels lack.

Opening the door, I was greeted with a massive bed, with comfy looking pillows, that looked incredibly inviting.

Although at this point all I wanted to do was relax on that fabulous bed, I had to head back to the bar for dinner, as the kitchen closed at 9pm and I was very much looking forward to trying the home-cooked food. Entering the bar and dining area is like entering a warm, welcoming country pub: lots of tables and chairs scattered around, a large bar and decorations everywhere. There were also lots of interesting plaques on the walls, describing the history of the surrounding area. The bar itself had an excellent wine list, at very reasonable prices, and so I treated myself to a large glass of Merlot. There was also a large range of local ales that would please any beer enthusiast.

Entering the bar and dining area is like entering a warm, welcoming country pub.

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I settled down to await my meal with anticipation. The bar and dining room are obviously popular with the locals, as it was full with people either having a relaxing drink at the bar or tucking into tasty looking meals. I decided to try the potato skins for a starter, and then one of the home-cooked specials for a main course. It was a difficult decision as all of the food seemed really tempting, but in the end, I opted for the pork belly, served with local root vegetables. I settled down to await my meal with anticipation. I did not have to wait long as the service was quick and very efficient. First the potato skins with a yummy selection of barbecue and mayonnaise sauces to dip them in. The portion was enormous!! Easily enough for two to share, however also so delicious, that I managed to eat the whole lot. I was already full before my main course arrived, but that didn’t stop me. The pork was lovely and moist, served with a lovely selection of potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables. I was sad to say that I couldn’t finish it, I was so full! The food definitely was well cooked, excellent value for money, extremely varied and the service was impeccable.

The food definitely was well cooked, excellent value for money, extremely varied and the service was impeccable.

 

 

With a full stomach, I headed back to my room and climbed into that fabulous bed and relaxed in front of the flat screen TV whilst making the most of the hotel’s complimentary wi-fi. It does say that not all rooms have access to the Wi-fi, however, I was lucky that mine did. After an amazing sleep, I awoke ready for a day of scenery and walking. Without realising it, I had actually overslept and missed breakfast, however, to be honest, I was so full from the night before, that I would not have done it justice.

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The website is certainly correct, in that the Hog’s Head Inn is definitely the perfect base for exploring the Northumberland countryside. It is surrounded by amazing scenery and there are loads of walks and rambles for those who love the outdoors. Unfortunately for me, I could not do as much walking as I wanted, as some of the walks were too hard to access due to the snow. However, I still managed a day of walking and sightseeing around Alnwick and returned late in the day, back to the comfortable, relaxed environment of the Hog’s Head and more yummy food.

The website is certainly correct, in that the Hog’s Head Inn is definitely the perfect base for exploring the Northumberland countryside.

 

This time I was ready for the size of the portions. I decide to opt for a steak off the grill with chips, salad and peppercorn sauce. The steak was huge, as expected, but perfectly cooked, with an excellent sauce. I was really to full to eat anything else, so instead, headed back to my room with a glass of wine to relax. After another excellent sleep, it was unfortunately time to leave, as I had a long journey back home.

 

The Hog’s Head Inn is definitely everything it says it is! Contemporary design and comfort, with excellent home cooked food and a lovely warm, welcoming atmosphere. It is excellent value for money, and they have a Winter Break Offer of dinner, bed and breakfast for £49.95 until 31st March. I would definitely recommend this to anyone thinking of visiting Northumberland, be it business or pleasure, as a perfect base of operations!

The Hog’s Head Inn, Hawfinch Drive, Alnwick, NE66 2BF, Tel: 01665 606576

http://www.hogsheadinnalnwick.co.uk

Heart London 5 * Rating

Room 4 1/2

 

Service 5

 

Food 5

 

Decor 4 1/2

 

Atmosphere 5

 

Value for money: 5

Penny, Heart London Magazine

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