Inside the stunning new £5.5million Runa Farm 'staycation' and wedding venue near Barnard Castle
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North East hospitality firm, The Apartment Group, who’ve had success with their hotels, wedding venues and bars, in Northumberland, Newcastle and Sunderland have unveiled their first County Durham addition – and it’s already proving a talking point.
Runa Farm has opened on the former Jersey Farm hotel site in Darlington Road, a mile from the centre of Barnard Castle.
Since getting the keys in 2020, it’s been a long road of major renovations whilst having to navigate the difficulties caused by the pandemic, but finally the £5.5million venue has been able to open its doors, creating 50 new jobs for the area.
Here’s what to expect as the traditional farm site enters a new chapter.
There’s 30 rooms across the hotel altogether, all with different touches inspired by a Boho aesthetic. Think raffia ceilings, azure blue hues, tasselled throws, jute rugs, rich textures, bohemian cushions and bathrooms lined in pebble-look tiles.
There’s a mixture of rooms, some with hot tubs overlooking the fields and Barnard Castle, some with bunk beds for families and a large farmhouse which sleeps up to 12 people for wedding parties or larger groups, which overlooks the farm’s resident sheep and alpacas.
Apartment Group chief operating officer Debrah Dhugga said: “It’s certainly not what people expect to see in County Durham. Barnard Castle has lots of independents now and is really quite hip and this is a great place for people to staycation, it’s a whole new experience for the area.
"It’s traditionally been a farm and there’s farms all around the site so we’ve kept that in mind to create something really earthy, for fun and relaxation, something that’s laid back, but luxury. And the response so far has been brilliant, people love the concept.
"After the pandemic hit, it’s great to be finally open and see it come to life. It’s great for the team, but also for the town because it helps to support their independents and suppliers.”
The name Runa, meanwhile, echoes the ethos of the site and is an amalgamation of the words rural and natural.
The wedding side of the venue is separate to the rest of the hotel with its own chapel, brides prep room, bar, dining area and terrace with water features.
The most has been made of the old farm’s existing features including a silo which is now the entrance to the wedding venue.
"There’s an awful lot of barns about for wedding venues, so we didn’t want to just do another barn, we always try to do things a bit differently,” said Debrah.
"So we have this silo which people walk through into the barn shed and into the gorgeous chapel, which, like the rest of the site, is very inspired by Ibiza and its Boho style.”
Runa Farm has its own bar and restaurant, which is for hotel residents and non-residents, called The Smithy.
Much like the rest of the site, it transports people from Barnard Castle to the Balearics with its burnt pink and sage green splashes of colour, exposed stonework, a bar made from terracotta tiles and rustic features.
It’s open for lunches and evening meals, as well as Sunday dinners, which had been popular under the site’s former guise. The menu is field to fork dining with hearty countryside dishes such as handmade pie, lamb rump, wild mushroom soup and summer salads.
Hotel residents also eat breakfast at the site, which sets you up for the day with choices such as full farmhouse breakfast, porridge, American pancakes, a continental breakfast bar and salmon and eggs.
Rooms start from £175 B&B.