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Rockliffe Hall, Darlington, County Durham
A mini-resort in all but name, this Georgian hall, with later extensions, sits just ten miles from industrial Teesside yet, once inside its gates and gliding down its long drive you're swept into a glossy green parkland. The 375 acres surrounding the hotel include a golf course, tennis courts, woodland and children's adventure playground while an entire wing of the hotel is a vast spa with a spa garden. Little chance of getting bored here, plus there's a choice of three dining options including fancy taster menus as well as exotic Asian dishes. Everywhere is on a grand scale whether it's the beautiful Orangery dining room or the clubby bar, while bedrooms are generous to a fault - traditional in the main hall, contemporary in the newer wings - with plenty of space to relax.
We loved the feeling of being totally cut off from the world, and swanning around the immaculately kept grounds as though we owned them.
Durham is a 40-minute drive away if you're looking for shops and culture. Alternatively, you're within equal distance of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
By car: under 5 hours from London, 2 hours 15 minutes from Manchester and 4 hours 30 minutes from Bristol. Free parking available.
By train: direct trains from London Kings Cross, Manchester or Birmingham take 2 hours 30 minutes to Darlington. The hotel is a 5-minute taxi ride. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
This hotel is really about indulgence, whether that's trying to lower your golf handicap, kicking back in the spa or lazing over afternoon tea. We loved the fact that we could choose to be really active, wallow in the spa, or hole up with a book, and nobody would make us feel as though we should be doing something else.
Service & Facilities
The walled kitchen garden is a lovely quiet spot where few other guests venture. The head gardener is very happy to show you around. Dogs are welcome in a small number of rooms and receive a bowl, toy and treats, together with suggested walking routes.
- Fitness centre
- Swimming pool
- Golf course
- Tennis courts
- Free parking
- Free Wi-Fi
Ground-floor rooms in the new wing have patios, but the Old Hall rooms have the grand features of mullioned windows and fireplaces. For supreme indulgence, we loved the TVs above the bath in the marble-clad bathrooms.
Old Hall Room, Old Hall Superior Room, New Hall Superior Room, Old Hall Suite, New Hall Junior Suite, Tip Lady Lodge
Facilities include: ensuite bathroom with toiletries, bathrobes and slippers, tea and coffee facilities, TV, free Wi-Fi
Food & Drink
The staff have just the right balance between professionalism and friendliness. Breakfast offers a full range of coffees and beautifully cooked scrambled eggs on brioche, amongst a choice that runs to smoked haddock and pancakes as well as a full grill.
The Clubhouse: informal dining, golf course views. British cuisine. All-day menu, open daily
Nu Sana: spa restaurant, healthy choices. Open daily for breakfast and lunch; Fri-Sat for dinner
The Orangery: fine dining, locally sourced produce and seasonal menus. Open daily, 6-9pm