The pub, in Felton, near Alnwick, is celebrating a recent coup after being named a winner of the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for the second year in a row – putting the pub with rooms in the top ten per cent of hotels worldwide.
And it’s easy to see what impresses visitors so much.
Just a mile off the A1, the country pub is ideally situated as a pit stop on a long journey, and it also has enough appeal to make it a destination in itself.
Felton is a smaller village than most, with a population of just 1,000, and The Northumberland Arms is very much a focal point of the area from its vantage point overlooking the River Coquet.
A former coaching inn which dates back to the 1820s, it’s a building full of character, from its cosy corners filled with trinkets and taking style cues from a country estate with its antler light shades, exposed stone walls and beams and Scottish baronial tartan, to its staff who welcome visitors as though they were village locals.
In the warmer months, there’s also a picture perfect beer garden overlooking the river as it meanders under the ancient stone bridge.
Here’s what to expect from a visit:
No one could accuse The Northumberland Arms of skimping on portions. Prepare to have your tummy filled here!
The menu is nothing too fancy: it’s all good, honest pub grub with a firm focus on local ingredients. Think classics such as burgers, grills, pie, beer-battered cod, pan haggerty and parmo, as well as vegan and veggie options – it’s all hearty stuff.
We chose the fish platter to start to share between two of us, although the size of it, it could have easily been enough for three.
For £16.95, you get plenty for your pounds with a board laden with a real catch of sliver upon sliver of smoked salmon, a moreish mackerel pate which we couldn't get enough of, a well-balanced potted trout, prawns, mussels and more than enough bread to devour it all with.
For mains, I ordered from the specials menu – pork cutlet with triple-cooked chips, fried hen’s egg, grilled tomatoes and spinach.
Again, it was great value for money at £14.95 for a generous portion, I’ve certainly paid more for less.
The tender, delicate pork worked perfectly with the runny egg and the chips were spot on: just the right balance of fluff and bite.
Drinks-wise, there’s a broad selection of draught, bottle and spirits including local brews, such as Anarchy Brew Co, Black Sheep Brewery, Tyne Bank Brewing, Consett Ale Works and Rigg & Furrow, as well as a better wine list than your average local pub.
Hotel breakfasts can often be a forgettable affair, but there was a keen attention to detail at Northumberland Arms.
With only six rooms, it means they can treat their guest to a real feast to start the day. A continental breakfast bar offers fruit, juices, cereals, pastries and handmade granola (make sure to try the latter, it won’t disappoint).
There’s also a cooked breakfast menu, from which I ordered kippers smoked at the excellent Swallows in Seahouses – a traditional smokehouse which is well worth a visit if you’re in the area, just for the incredible aroma alone.
Possibly the most flavoursome of all the seafoods, the kippers, a must when visiting Northumberland, really set me up a for a day of walking.
The pub is a great base from which to explore the county. Warkworth Castle, for example, is a short drive away and from there you can take the three-mile coastal path, following the winding River Coquet, to Amble, spotting handsome herons and other wildlife as you go.
There’s only six rooms at Northumberland Arms, but each has its own identity. Named after local landmarks, St Micahel’s Church, Eshot Castle, Brainshaugh Priory, Thirston House, Bockenfield Market and New Moor Tower, each has their own details and feature wallpaper.
We stayed in Eshot Castle, a really spacious room decorated in Royal purple and tartan, antique chairs to sink into and Georgian sash windows overlooking the river.
Again, there’s a good attention to detail with sparkling clean facilities, luxury White Company toiletries, Ringtons tea and robes.
This was the largest of the rooms, but each is of a good size, some with the added bonus of free-standing baths in the room and some are dog-friendly. Rooms are also adaptable with the option of Z beds which can be added for little ones.
Rooms at The Northumberland Arms are priced £155-£199 and include breakfast. You can book at northumberlandarms-felton.co.uk