Take a tranquil paradise, sprinkle it with the comforts of home and blend it together with hearty grub, luxurious touches and picturesque views, and you’ve got St Mary’s Inn down to a tee.
Nestled in Stannington Village, you’ll find tradition is at the heart of this pub, bed and breakfast. These values stem from its original exterior, which used to be home to a former administration building back when St Mary’s Hospital was up and running.
The hospital, which was a country asylum for Gateshead, closed in 1996 and although the remains surround St Mary’s Inn, the mix of bare brickwork, arched doorways all topped with a tower clock makes for a picture-perfect view.
The interior, however has been spruced up, but still showcases its heritage throughout the wooden beams and roaring log fires, to walls donning landscape paintings of Northumberland and wicker dogs, which lay on stone slabs at the helm of the fire.
All of the 11 bedrooms are different shapes and sizes and one even boasts a terrace, but they’re all designed with one aim; to give you a good night’s sleep.
Our bedroom was uncluttered, but comfortable and could be described as modern meets vintage; with a huge bay window, soft carpets, a Victorian wardrobe, an Edwardian vanity desk finished off with plush furnishings and fresh flowers, while the stylish en suite bathroom is home to a grand spa bath.
From its mantra the bed was the key focal point of the room, which I argued was definitely bigger than your standard double bed. With the plump white duvet inviting us in, we couldn’t resist diving into what felt like a giant marshmallow, but before we’d sunk into the mattress, we tore ourselves away for a spot of lunch.
A Sunday afternoon wouldn’t be complete without a roast dinner. So, while we sat in a cosy corner of the dining room, I ordered the belly pork with black pudding, while my other half opted for the chicken breast, both served with roast potatoes, broccoli, creamed leeks, buttered greens, honey roast carrots, parsnips, a Yorkshire pudding and gravy.
When it comes to Sunday dinners, it’s either on top or a flop. So, the pressure was on to see if St Mary’s Inn could infuse its traditional vibes into its cuisine, and they certainly did a cracking job.
It was a picture-perfect roast, piled high with vegetables, a huge slab of meat and a home-made Yorkshire pud hanging off the plate. I dived straight in. In fact, before our waiter had even come back with our individual gravy pots, I’d already scooped up a mouthful of creamed leeks.
Once the thick, gooey gravy covered the entire contents of my plate I tucked in once again. While cutting into the pork the crackling gave a delightful crunch and after breaking through the crisp outer shell, the pork was tender and succulent.
St Mary’s Inn shook up boring, boiled veg with buttered greens, creamy leeks and honey glazed carrots and parsnips, which gave a sweet after taste, and a thick wedge of crisp black pudding to complement the pork. The roast potatoes could have been a little more crisp, however the home-made Yorkshire was light, fluffy and the ideal finishing touch to any roast.
It doesn’t matter if the button on my jeans is ready to pop, I’ll always make room for a dessert. And I didn’t have to look at the menu twice, I already knew I wanted the chocolate tart with hazelnut and chocolate ice cream.
The dark chocolate tasted rich and creamy, while the buttery base crumbled instantly. I’ve had this dessert many times before and can only manage half as the chocolate proves too sickly. Thankfully St Mary’s Inn have mastered the knack, so I was able to scoff every last bite, as well as the creamy ice cream and sprinkling of nuts smothered in sticky a caramel sauce.
Normally after a meal I’m in no rush to go anywhere. However, knowing there was a luxurious spa bath waiting in our en suite, we quickly settled the bill, so I could indulge in some much needed pampering, while my other half made use of the flat screen TV and free WIFI.
There’s nothing quite like being greeted with a fresh pot of tea and a serving of toast first thing in the morning. And while we sat smoothering our toast in jam and looking over the breakfast menu, I knew there was only one way to kick start a morning, and that’s with a full English fry up.
Rashes of bacon, layered with crispy black pudding, coupled with some meaty sausages, two fried eggs, a grilled tomato, a fried mushroom and a bowl of beans to top it off. But, if a belly-busting breakfast doesn’t take your fancy you’ll find a lavish spread of breads, meats, cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurt with a wide selection of toppings, as well as a range of fruit juices and that’s before you even glance at the menu.
If a dainty dish is what you’re after there’s a choice of eggs Benedict, grilled Craster kippers and avocado on toasted sourdough with poached egg, to name but a few.
It wasn’t long before I was using the last of my toast to soak up the remains of the rich, yellow yoke and sipping the remains of my tea, before picking up our bags and setting off from St Mary’s Inn back to reality.
Has anyone else been to St Mary’s Inn, what’s your thoughts?
Sarah Jayne x