Family-Friendly Hotels in County Durham: Wynyard Hall

I have to confess, when we were approached by Wynyard Hall regarding a visit last year, I knew little about the north east of England. My knowledge and experience extended as far as Leeds (my first university), but that was all. I knew little about Durham or the Tees Valley, beyond the cathedral and the university, but what we have discovered is beautiful countryside, and a warm, welcoming community with an elegant and exquisite country house hotel at its heart.

Can we just take a moment to admire this glorious building?  Although completed in 1846, during the reign of Queen Victoria, it has distinctly late Georgian proportions and styling.  The impressive seat of the Marquess of Londonderry for over a century, Wynyard Hall was turned into a country house hotel just a decade ago, and has quickly established itself as a much-loved destination and venue.

The Hall

Although the Wynyard Estate dates from 1230, it wasn't until a coal mining fortune and a fortuitous marriage combined that it became a family seat and the present building was created.  Incorporating local stone and both French and Italian marble, the Hall's exterior is breathtakingly beautiful.

Inside, the elaborate interiors are of an extravagant, Louis XIV style, with rich mahogany, marble and exquisite stained glass.  If only my camera would do this ceiling justice!

The soothing palette of yellows and blues contrasts beautifully with the lush landscaped grounds extending to some 150 acres all around, including a lake, formal gardens and parkland.

Our Accommodation: Maplewood Cottage

There are 19 bedrooms in the hall, each beautifully designed and many overlooking the lake.  Wynyard Hall also boasts a handful of cottages, sleeping up to six people, each with its own outdoor space and private hot tub.  We were lucky enough to be given the delightful Maplewood Cottage for our stay.

A former gatehouse or estate worker's cottage, the building has been sympathetically extended to create a spacious and luxurious holiday home.  With a large and fully equipped kitchen, comfortably appointed sitting room and three beautifully decorated bedrooms, it was just what we needed for a family of five.  We could quite happily live in such space!

The modern country style décor is delightful, with lovely attention to detail and high quality furnishings.  While the modern bathroom and en suite were full of everything we could possibly need, from delightfully fluffy robes to high quality Temple Spa toiletries.

The bedrooms are comfortable and spacious, with plenty of storage space and cosy duvets, quilts and blankets.  Perfect for a fantastic night's sleep, which we all enjoyed.  The peace and darkness was conducive to good sleep to the extent that on the second morning we didn't wake up till 9am.  Virtually unheard of with small people!

At the rear of the cottage there was plenty of space to relax, and access to open acres for the girls to run and play in.  We flung open both sets of doors and spent an afternoon enjoying the sunshine and hopping in and out of the hot tub.  It was a wonderful view as the sun went down too.


The Wellington Restaurant at Wynyard Hall has been awarded two AA rosettes and is a local destination choice for romantic dinners a deux, celebratory lunches and corporate entertaining.  The set menu is excellent value and an a la carte menu is also available.  Both are centred on fine ingredients, sourced from the Wynyard Gardens or from local suppliers, combined with attentive service and exquisite surroundings.

We visited the Wellington for Sunday lunch, where families are most welcome, and for dinner one evening.  We dined on starters such as this rhubarb and feta salad, carrot soup, a pear, rhubarb and stilton salad, mixed tomato salad, and asparagus with duck eggs and Parma ham.  All delicious.

The main courses were less popular with our party, unfortunately, but included a goat's cheese and spinach tart, sweet potato gnocchi, a combination of carrot textures and techniques, and this wild mushroom pancake with a cheese sauce.  These were OK, but not ideal for children and they left rather a lot.  It would be nice to have some more child-friendly options, such as a simple tomato sauce or vegetable sauce pasta, for example.  A vegan option would also be most welcome, as the vegetarian choices were rather cheese-heavy.

The desserts were a real treat though, with something for everyone.  Our favourites were this apricot ensemble which was divine, the sticky toffee pudding, custard tart with rhubarb, and the sublime carrot cake with crème anglaise.

Our girls loved the surroundings of the restaurant and being all 'grown up' at the table.  The staff were attentive and actually addressed the children, which is always nice, making them feel like valued guests as well as the adults.

Breakfast was a wonderful treat, with fresh fruit, pastries, cereals with yogurt and fruit coulis, and fresh juices.  The hot menu included porridge, omelettes, eggs Benedict or any other way you might wish, and the usual cooked options.  Tatiana was so taken with hers she took a photo, complete with PJ Masks socks!  It was lovely to wake up in our cottage and head up to the main house for breakfast.  Very spoilt!

The Grounds

I will cover the gardens, which are open to visitors and hotel residents, fully in another post.  There are also acres of landscaped park to explore.  Near the hall, the Lion Bridge leads out to the park, left to the gardens and right towards our cottage.  The beautiful lake was awash with water lilies, which will be a site to see in the weeks to come.  It is here the spa is situated, which I have heard wonderful things about.

The formal gardens feature drama courtesy of the Ratibon gates and other structures, leading on to the walled garden with its 3000 dazzling David Austin roses.

The walled garden is a vast space which must be truly stunning when filled with the sight and scent of roses numbering 135 species, some of which bloom as late as September and October.  I am so tempted to go back over the summer for this wonderful spectacle!  But in May we were able to see this glorious wisteria and enjoyed the budding garden full of greenery.

From our wonderful cottage, there was an open vista of grasses, wild flowers and trees, which the girls adored.  They ran through the grass, played with their toys, tumbled, and hunted for bugs.  The perfect environment for our country girls.

The perfect end to their day was returning to Maplewood Cottage to watch the evening wildlife from the sitting room.  We saw pheasants, rabbits, owls and deer.  A delight.

We had a wonderful time and would heartily recommend Wynyard Hall to families, couples and anyone looking for a relaxing break in beautiful surroundings.  An excellent hotel.

Wynyard Hall is located just north of Stockton-On-Tees, a short drive from the A1(M).  Accommodation in the cottages is priced from £605 per night, including breakfast.  The restaurant and gardens are both open to the public as well as hotel guests.  Lunch or dinner is priced from £25 for two courses.

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