Rockliffe Hall Review – A Fairytale Stay at Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Spa and Golf//= get_the_date( 'dS F Y' ); ?>
Rockliffe Hall review written and photographed by Yorkshire Food Guide’s Jonathan Harris
Rockliffe Hall Review – A Fairytale Stay at Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Spa and Golf
There’s no better way to change the mindset into relaxation mode than pulling into the gates of the 5 Star AA Rated Rockliffe Hall. The first glimpse of the 18th-century red-brick mansion complete with the additional 61 hotel bedrooms is a pretty breath-taking experience. Situated on the edge of the County Durham and North Yorkshire border, nowhere have I encountered such grandeur together with an overbearing sense of peace and tranquillity that only 375 acres of parkland and championship golf course can bring.
After a good five minutes or so of open-mouthed awe from our new surroundings, we checked-in and experienced our first encounter of Rockliffe Hall’s impeccable hospitality and warming service. Refreshments were offered and our bags were kindly taken up to our room as we went on a tour around the beautiful setting. More jaw-dropping moments quickly followed as we made our way through the old hall rooms.
From the main hall it was a quick stroll through the children’s fairytale play area Mischmasch, inspired by the much loved Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carol, who grew up in nearby Croft, and onto meet Head Gardener Phil Mennell in the stunning Kitchen Garden. There’s an abundance of seasonal ingredients all grown for each of the three restaurants on-site at Rockliffe Hall, together with botanicals for their expertly crafted cocktails and their own honey produced from 3 hives on site.
THE SPA AT ROCKLIFFE HALL
With a few hours to spare before our dinner reservation, it would have been rude not to pay a visit to the hotel’s award-winning spa facilities. Rockliffe Hall is the ultimate destination for all things spa, with a huge array of hot and cold experiences alongside spa pools. A dip in the outdoor jacuzzi with the sun shining and views of the parkland was the perfect pre-dinner treat.
Each of the bedrooms are designed to offer guests the ultimate in luxury, from super king size beds, TV’s in the bathrooms, together with stunning views over the golf course and surrounding countryside.
The opportunity to sample a range of expertly chosen glasses of wines from one of the North’s best sommeliers is one not to be sniffed at. With over 29 years of experience, Head Sommelier Daniel Jonberger’s wine journey has seen him at the Samling and Holbeck Ghyll luxury hotels to name a few.
As Head Sommelier to the 4AA Rosette awarded Orangery Restaurant, Daniel works alongside Executive Chef Richard Allen to pair hand-picked and rare wines, with mouth-watering food from one of the UK’s most celebrated chefs.
With just a short stroll down the cellar steps, beneath the stunning 19th Century old hall, is where the wine master classes take place. Alongside Rockliffe’s award-winning collection of wines, Daniel takes you on a journey of flavours from around the world, putting your tastebuds to the test whilst sharing his knowledge gained from tirelessly researching to create an ever-evolving wine list at Rockliffe Hall. Daniel’s warm and friendly character set the tone for a fun an informative masterclass. We could have stayed in the cellar all evening talking and drinking amongst the stunning selection of wines.
The Orangery, Rockliffe Hall’s 4AA Rosette awarded flagship restaurant, headed up by Executive Head Chef Richard Allen, serves both a la carte and tasting menus. Utilizing the finest local and seasonal ingredients, from either the Kitchen Garden or foraged from the Rockliffe Estate. Richard and his team together with Daniel’s expertly paired wines deliver an unforgettable culinary experience.
Opting for the 6-course tasting menu, we had a complete showcase of the kitchen’s gastronomic magic. Alongside, Daniel paired an unbelievable array of weird and wonderful wines to perfectly complement the evening’s food. With too many delicious dishes to mention individually, our personal favourites had to be the Chalk Stream Trout, served with smoked eel, cucumber, dill and dashi. Together with the Scottish Venison BBQ celeriac and goji berries. An absolutely incredible evening of superb food, wines and hospitality. Richard Allen is one of the UK’s most celebrated chefs, and also holds two of the industries most formidable accolades (Cateys‘ Head Chef of the Year and the Craft Guild of Chefs Restaurant Chef od the Year), so the chance to sample his amazing food together with our earlier wine tastings was the ultimate treat.
For guests looking for a more casual dining experience but all the flair of Rockliffe, there are another two restaurants to enjoy. Firstly The Clubhouse, think gastropub with a modern twist, led by Chef Paul O’Hara who has worked alongside big names such as Rick Stein, Raymond Blanc and Paul Rankin. From lobster ravioli, venison wellington to afternoon teas and legendary Sunday lunches, with stunning views of the surrounding golf course.
Last but definitely not least, The Brasserie restaurant. Headed up by one of Yorkshire and the North East’s most highly regarded Chefs, Aaron Craig. Having worked all over the UK and Europe including Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin-starred restaurants the Fat Duck. Aaron’s menus showcase the fantastic produce right on the doorstep of Rockliffe Hall that the north is so famous for. From North sea fish to game from the local estates, with menus ever changing to suit the seasonality of the local produce.
After hitting snooze a few too many times from what can only be described as the world’s comfiest bed, it was back to the Orangery for a cracking breakfast overlooking the championship golf course. To finish off an incredible stay at Rockliffe Hall a trip to the Spa Garden combined with another day of glorious weather was the icing on the cake.
The Spa Garden has a perfect blend of indoor and outdoor facilities. From the glass-fronted sauna, heated relaxation loungers and infinity pool overlooking the landscaped gardens, together with complimentary refreshments. Adjacent to the main spa you pay £30 per person for 2 hours of indulgence. A visit to Rockliffe’s Spa Garden is an absolute must.
Rockliffe Hall Review Summary
With such a vast range of facilities on offer at Rockliffe Hall, guests can choose from an abundance of ways to spend their stay at one of the UK’s most prestigious resorts. However you decide to enjoy the impeccable surroundings, you’re guaranteed to have the warmest welcomes, the finest food and incredible wines at this beautiful northern retreat.
Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa
Hurworth on Tees
5 minutes drive from junction 57 of the A1M (if traveling from the South) or 10 minutes from junction 58 of the A1M (if traveling from the North)
30 minutes drive from the historic city of Durham and the North Yorkshire coast at Saltburn
1 hour from Newcastle, York, Harrogate and the Lake District
Darlington train station is 5 minutes by taxi from Rockliffe and Darlington is a mainline station accessible from most parts of the UK
2.5 hours by Train from London Kings Cross & Birmingham
Less than 2 hours by Train from Manchester
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