Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Travel: Cocooned in Quiet, Stress-Free Luxury; A Weekend in the Northumbrian Countryside Is Only a Short Drive Away, but Can Feel as Far from the Stress of the Working Week as a Much Longer Trip. Graeme King Spent Two Days Based at an Impressive Bed and Breakfast in Rothbury

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Travel: Cocooned in Quiet, Stress-Free Luxury; A Weekend in the Northumbrian Countryside Is Only a Short Drive Away, but Can Feel as Far from the Stress of the Working Week as a Much Longer Trip. Graeme King Spent Two Days Based at an Impressive Bed and Breakfast in Rothbury

Article excerpt

SO you have had a tough week at work.

Nothing has gone right. Maybe colleagues or friends have let you down, and you are desperate for the weekend to come around.

At that point, rather than just go home and make something bland for tea, followed by a lazy channel surf until bed, sometimes it's really good to book a weekend away.

You could take yourself and your partner off to Edinburgh maybe, or down to the Yorkshire Dales, or maybe a little further a field to Dublin or even Paris.

But when that just feels like too much hassle, and you don't fancy driving, taking the train or flying so far, a short drive into the Northumbrian countryside can be just the thing.

And with high-quality accommodation like the Orchard House in Rothbury available, the temptation to stay local is all the more alluring.

In all honesty, this is not a budget option, but when you are only having to take yourselves less than an hour's drive, you can afford to indulge a little.

The term B&B does not altogether do the place justice, as this is more of a boutique hotel that just happens not to do lunch and dinner.

We arrive in Rothbury late on a chilly afternoon and find the Orchard House at the top end of the main street.

Owner Graham Stobbart greets us at the door and shows us into the drawing room, offering hot towels to refresh us.

The room has been very nicely decorated, and is lined with antiques and family photographs, as well as a couple, discreetly placed behind the other shots, of Graham in his earlier career with Hilton Hotels, meeting and greeting such figures as Bill Clinton and former Canadian PM Jean Chretien.

A quick glass of chilled champagne, and he shows us our room, or rather suite. A super-king-sized bed is at one end, with a sumptuous sofa and wall-mounted flatscreen television at the other.

There is a decanter of sherry on the sideboard, and some shortbread and fresh raspberries for us to try. Across the hallway is a large bathroom with bath and shower and a selection of shampoos, soaps and creams to use. There are more white fluffy towels than we could use in a fortnight.

The attention to detail is really extraordinary and Graham goes to a lot of trouble to make his guests comfortable.

To eat in the evening, he books us a table at the Italia+ restaurant in the Coquetdale Hotel at the other end of the village, and we have a very nice meal with good service, aided by a note in the bookings diary asking that we be well looked after.

While we are out for the evening, the Orchard House turn-down service has swung into action. The duvet on the giant bed has been turned back, a pair of slippers put out on either side, and a teddy bear wearing a knitted jumper with 'Sleep well at the Orchard House' embroidered into it, sits among an arrangement of cushions. …

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