The Cookie Jar - Alnwick

Monday, February 19, 2018

It was by chance that I came across The Cookie Jar when looking for a romantic Valentine's retreat to accompany a trip to The Treehouse. This beautiful, boutique hotel was once a Convent and opened its doors in September 2017 with just 11 luxuriously renovated rooms and suites. Rooms range from the super-suite to the super "cosy". We stayed in the latter. 

However, curb your fears of estate agency jargon, as the cosy room is perfectly proportioned for a one-night stay. It includes a king-size Hynos bed, Plasma screen TV (that we discovered you could hook up to your Netflix account) and a bathroom that immediately banishes any potential for small-room syndrome. 

Sweethope Lough, The Cookie Jar

If small and perfectly formed doesn’t quite cut the mustard, The Chapel room is indeed worthy of worship. From what I’ve seen (with not at all envy-ridden hindsight…) there’s a heavenly bath tub inside the under-floor heated bathroom, a luxurious bed topped with fine English linen and a 60-inch flat screen. All the beautiful features of the former chapel have been retained, including stain glass windows and carved wooden beams. Mark, if you’re reading - next time, pet! 

But, back to our cosy quarters. The cutely named Sweethope Lough had a bathroom to die for. And I am one to judge a hotel room by its restroom facilities. It must be a girl thing. The drench shower was the best I’d ever experienced and was only topped off by the deliciously fragranced Penhaligon’s ‘Blenheim Bouquet’ shower gel. Which I sadly forgot to steal. 

In keeping with the hotel’s local heritage, the tea and coffee was from Pumphreys of Northumberland and - the pièce de résistance - a complimentary jar of cookies sat atop the reclaimed wood tabletop. The furniture was by Loaf and in their own words, was: Part industrial. Part chic. All lovely.

Bathroom in Sweethope Lough

I can’t speak highly enough of the staff at The Cookie Jar. They were absolutely lush, so accommodating telling us of hidden gems to visit, ringing around taxi companies for us (due to the rain/straightened hair/romantic meal situation) and serving us drinks (and Kettle crisps) while we waited. I was advised to try the Picpoul de Pinet - despite my penchant for Pinot - which tasted all the more delish amongst the hotel’s sumptuous surroundings. 

Seeing as we’d already made meal reservations, we didn’t get to sample the hotel’s Bistro menu but what we did get, was brekkie. And my God, it was good. The food was simple, but locally sourced and you really could tell. The full breakfast included smoked back bacon, Cookie Jar sausage, local black pudding (which even as a black pudding novice I appreciated), grilled tomato, a proper field mushroom, hash brown and free range eggs as you like them. I barely paused for breath. The couple next to us had apparently turned up for the world renowned grilled Craster Kippers; their odour was hard to miss (the kippers, not the couple.) But of course, that would never put a fish fanatic like me off her brunch.

Grilled breakfast at The Cookie Jar, Alnwick

The Bailiffgate Bistro overlooks the hotel’s heated, 40 seater, two-tier terrace, which has a fire pit amongst its garden area. Our stay was all together too brief to make the most of the hotel's grounds or restaurant, but I'm already planning our next trip. The building is ideally located for a mooch amongst the cobbles of Alnwick town. We discovered vintage shop, The Beehive, where we picked up a couple of vinyl from one of Northumberland's largest collections. And tap room, smokehouse The Dirty Bottles Inn - a new and innovative bar restaurant, where you can help yourself to their own brew, as well as a selection of IPAs at their self-service beer pumps, tasting walls and ordering booths. Alnwick Castle is on the doorstep and Alnwick Gardens are a short walk away. FYI, their new Forgotten Garden Adventure Golf is top notch. Competitive arguments to be expected.

The Cookie Jar is adept at delivering the little details. From their lovingly named rooms and suites, to the rustic wooden keys and little puns on notes or stickers here and there. It's these small things that make your stay feel all the more intimate. The rich colour palette of the rooms, plush textures and quirky, industrial furniture will make you feel very much at home. As - of course - will the staff. It goes without saying that we'll be back.

Don't second guess yourself, book your stay at The Cookie Jar and let me know how you get on. Particularly if you bag yourself the super-suite.

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