Matfen Hall combines country hotel, spa and golf estate into one exceptionally luxurious package. Just 30 minutes drive from Newcastle, you’ll feel like you’re world’s away as soon as you turn off the main road and cast your eyes across 300 acres of greenery as far as the eye can see.
Steeped in history, work began on Matfen Hall in 1832 (with the year becoming the name of Matfen Hall’s main bar). Sir Edward Blackett, 6th Baronet Blackett of Newcastle hired and fired his main architect but continued with the building works himself, which completed in 1836. Operating as a nursing home from ’65 to ’94, it finally became a country house hotel in 1999, further refurbed in 2004 when the spa was added, and again, just recently with a multi-million pound transformation by Walwick Estate Group. Matfen Hall’s recent win in the Best Recently Renovated Hotel category at the 2024 Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence UK, Europe & The Mediterranean is a true testament to the high quality of the refurbishment.
Brief history lesson aside, fascinating features remain in the more traditional areas of the hotel. Still in tact are the stunning Blackett coat of arms at the Gothic style entrance, as well as a fire place originally meant for Buckingham Palace, in what is now the Morning Room. Entering through the Great Hall, it’s a room which immediately captures the imagination and transports you right back to the 1800’s. Lovingly restored to its former glory, a great roaring fire blasts out the heat, while sunlight makes an attempt tobreak through the pretty stained glass windows. This opulent hall with its grand staircase and lavish furniture is where you’ll be greeted by staff, checked in and given a tasty welcome drink – a rum punch in our case made with an imported Antiguan rum which definitely warmed off the chilly October air we’d brought in with us.
Matfen Hall’s original features are juxtaposed with old and new married together in a thoughtful and sensitive manner. Our luxury room was just above the Great Hall in the original 19th century house and was beautifully spacious with high ceilings and a view out across the gardens.
With an emperor sized bed and the comfiest of mattresses (I later found out these are ‘Lansdowne Cashmere’), the designer headboard and plumped up cushions bearing the coats of arms gave the whole room a regal feel – like you’re staying in a palace!
The bathroom is one of the most beautiful we’ve seen in a hotel. Brilliant white carrara marble gleamed under the bright lights, while there’s a spacious roll top bath and huge walk in shower, not forgetting the ultimate in luxurious toiletries from Penhaligons.
Following our handy map given at check in to locate the pool (you’ll become familiar with the layout very quickly), we swam three times during our stay – mainly because the pool is so relaxing and spacious, bathed in natural light from the glass roof. In this area there’s also a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, aromatherapy room and the cold water bucket experience (not for the faint hearted but very good for you!). I loved the compact design of the thermal suite, and the loungers dotted around the pool for purely chilling out and relaxing.
You can’t come to a spa hotel and not experience a treatment, and we agreed afterwards that our back massages were first class. It was obvious that the therapists were all highly trained and we floated back to the room to get ready for dinner. The Retreat offers a full range of treatments and rituals and there’s plenty of products to test and buy if you like what’s used during your massage or facial.
Matfen Hall’s dining options are all excellent and I think this is what perhaps sets it apart from other spa hotels because the food is such high quality. Booked in for the set menu in the Emerald Restaurant, we took a pre-dinner trip down to the basement to see the wine cellar. It’s an absolutely incredible room with the most beautiful lighting, and can be booked for private wine tastings to enhance one’s stay.
The main bar 1832 is equally as impressive. The contrast of rich oak and decadent velvet seating in gold, red and royal blue, along with the captivating central bar area is the perfect place for a pre and post dinner drink. If you manage to nab a window seat, the views out across Matfen’s estate add to the whole experience.
Emerald Restaurant itself is located right next to 1832 – another enchanting room with an intricately designed ceiling which will have you mesmerised! With a brand new head chef, Ernst Van Zyl joined the team literally a day before we arrived, so we enjoyed the old menu including local lobster tail and the most incredible British beef wellington with our tasting journey expertly paired with red and white wines. Ernst has since curated his own menu which looks amazing with lobster, oysters and venison part of the offering. We can’t wait to return and experience his culinary expertise!
After a game of dominos in the cosy snug, we headed for bed and enjoyed breakfast the next morning in the Cloisters Restaurant and Bar (which also has a menu of locally sourced and seasonal produce which can be enjoyed in the evenings.) Originally a courtyard, the architects have worked wonders transforming this part of Matfen Hall with a glass ceiling and mezzanine area which now exudes ethereal charm.
There are many other areas of the estate to explore and enjoy – The Orangery for Afternoon Tea is a serene, light and airy space with vibrant hues of green overlooking acre upon acre of parkland, meanwhile if you’re a golfer, their 27-hole golf course is one of the North East’s best.
For weddings, Matfen Hall has so much to offer, along with private dining rooms and a basement bar and function area.
Finding a luxurious spa getaway that lives up to all expectations can be difficult, but Matfen’s dining options, bedrooms, excellent service and spa facilities are truly five star. A dreamy stay from start to finish, book here.