The Lumley Castle Hotel is a four-star property at Chester-le-Street in County Durham. With a long history and cosy bedrooms, some featuring four-poster beds, this hotel is well placed for exploring the north-east of England.
A total of 73 guestrooms are available in the late-14th century castle and adjacent former stable buildings. The castle’s status as a Grade I listed building is indicative that this is a place of ‘exceptional interest’ to the country’s heritage. It features alterations by the celebrated architect Sir John Vanbrugh and, for a time, was a residence of the Bishop of Durham.
Interested in history? You would do well to set aside an hour to explore the castle. Strolling around the neatly tended grounds presents an opportunity to view the castle’s grand exterior. An original, now replaced, turret stands within the courtyard; up close it’s possible to see the ravages of erosion on the honey-coloured masonry. Heraldic emblems count among the embellishments on walls within the courtyard.
Lumley Castle has been a hotel since 1976, and evolved into one of north-east England’s upscale wedding venues. Framed oil paintings adorn the walls of the function rooms. The castle’s former guard room is now a venue for dancing to DJ-spun tunes.
The Library Bar, lounge and Knight’s Restaurant were refurbished early in 2020, making the hotel an option to non-staying guests for casual drinks and dinner visits. Sipping an aperitif in the bar is an option before you head into the dining room, whose vaulted ceiling is a reminder of the medieval origins of the setting.
Craig Sherrington, the hotel’s executive chef, has introduced a modern menu featuring largely British dishes that showcase locally sourced produce. His starters include a lightly spiced spring onion bhaji served with smoked cheese sauce. Mains include roast Lakeland lamb served with baked celeriac, fondant potato and tarragon jus. The rib eye is likely to catch the eye of steak lovers.
Registering for the hotel’s Priority Club prior to staying provides you with access to the priority wine list. The competitively priced wines are available in sizes ranging from a 125ml glass up to a bottle.
Plans are afoot to develop an upscale spa at the hotel, which is located next to Chester-le Street Golf Club. The hotel and golf club collaborate to ensure that keen golfers staying at the Lumley Castle can book morning tee times on the 18-hole course by the River Wear.
The hotel is also a convenient base for watching cricket matches at the nearby Emirates Riverside cricket ground. The stadium is a 15-minute walk from the castle. The home of Durham Cricket is also used as a venue for England matches and, famously, was where the hosts won the Ashes series of 2016.
Lumley Castle is less than 12 miles’ drive from the home stadium of Newcastle United Football Club, whose St James’ Park shares part of its name with the hotel’s suite. Named after England’s first Stuart king, the King James Suite features a vast four-poster bed and a hot tub. The monarch stayed in the former chapel in 1603, the year of his coronation.
By that time, Lumley Castle was already more than 200 years old. It was constructed from 1389 for Sir Ralph Lumley who had played a key role in defending Berwick upon Tweed from the Scots just a year earlier. Stripped of his title, Ralph was executed in 1400 for his involvement in plotting against the king.
As you might expect of a building with such a lengthy history, there are inevitable rumours that Lumley Castle is haunted. However, it isn’t Sir Ralph but Lily, the woman who is reputed to have secretly married him, who is said haunt the castle. According to legend she was cast down the well by two priests and occasionally rises back.
Lily of Lumley is the principal character of the castle’s escape room, in which a team of players are required to cooperate to complete tasks within a set amount of time. The hi-tech room opened in 2019 in a former beer cellar that is, inevitably, sometimes thought of as a dungeon.
With over 630 years of history, Lumley Castle looks set to stand for many years to come.
Tell me more about the Lumley Castle Hotel
Lumley Castle Hotel, Ropery Lane, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, DH3 4NX.
Tel: 0191 389 1111
There are seven categories of rooms, ranging from Courtyard Classic to the King James Suite. Double rooms cost from £99, on a room-only basis (including wi-fi and car parking), and from £120 with breakfast. The hotel’s flexible policy allows rooms to be cancelled up until 3 pm on the day before arrival.
See the hotel website for information about discounts for National Health Service employees plus Escape Room, Date Night and Golf Experience packages.
Additional beds can be provided for children (under-12) sharing rooms with family members. Inter-connecting rooms are available.
Dogs can stay in rooms at Lumley Castle.
The Lumley Castle Hotel has introduced a range of measures to limit the likelihood of COVID-19 infection. These stringent cleaning, reducing the capacity of the restaurant and a one-way pedestrian system around the hotel.