Last Updated on October 31, 2021
An old friend in new surrounding – staying at Hotel du Vin in Newcastle
(Press Trip in conjunction with NewcastleGateshead)
My first trip to Newcastle – one of those places I’ve passed through so many times and never stopped. While I was keen to explore, I was genuinely delighted to find myself staying in Hotel du Vin.
It’s an old friend. I’ve been visiting various HdV locations ever since they opened over thirty years ago. At the time they offered something quite new. Stylish boutique hotels that somehow married important local features with contemporary comforts, I believe the first to open was in Winchester. The closest in this group of ‘friends’ for me is the Hotel du Vin in Henley upon Thames where I used to regularly turn up for business meetings and lunch, with a definite emphasis on the second part. And, I was lucky enough to be invited to stay and review their twenty-fifth anniversary menu in 2014. I’ve also stayed more recently in one of the newer HdV hotels – the one in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Hotel du Vin Newcastle
The Newcastle Hotel du Vin took me right back to the original concept, the one I fell in love with. And, although I had a packed itinerary, I’d have happily just stayed around the hotel which is situated in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle.
Hotel du Vin is based in the former headquarters of the Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company building. With 42 rooms and suites it is large enough to provide plenty of choice of room style but small enough to feel friendly and intimate. It’s dog friendly though I was advised that the staff try to keep visitors with dogs in the older part of the hotel.
Drinking and Dining at Hotel du Vin Newcastle.
Food and drink are available for both residents and local visitors. There’s a comfy bar area, with plush velvet seating and plenty of choice of drinks. The group isn’t called Hotel du Vin for nothing. There’s an excellent selection of wines, including several champagnes and sparkling wines and there’s even a tasting room.
There’s Bistro du Vin, with the kind of menu that will make everyone feel happy – comfort bistro classics with a contemporary twist in a stylish with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. I didn’t get a chance to eat anything other than breakfast there, but I know from experience that the food is good!
There are also some stunning private dining rooms and even a classic tasting area, the Laroche tasting table with seating for 6 guests, each with their own built-in spittoon! The perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.
Room options at Hotel du Vin
I was impressed with the range of room options. From cosy, comfortable classic rooms through to deluxe rooms and suites of various sizes, there’s something for everyone. All the rooms have fabulous waterfall showers and many of them have beautiful roll-top baths in the rooms.
The styling is a rather comfortable version of industrial chic with large leather sofas in some of the suites and even with Jack and Jill baths in the signature suite, Thierry Lombard, which is larger than many London flats and boasts a 9-foot bed! Some of the larger rooms are on two levels and some have an outdoor terrace too.
In fact, the hotel is made up of two sections. The original Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company occupied the old building looking out over the river. On the other side, a more recent extension offers a quieter location and contemporary feel.
Staying in the old building, I loved the view from my own junior suite and the traditional styling.
Toiletries from the premium French brand l’Occitane – often in refillable dispensers – added a luxurious touch. There was a kettle and espresso machine, plenty of fluffy white towels and a pair of bathrobes. The King-sized bed had the comfiest mattress I’ve slept on for a while and pristine white bed linen.
Breakfast at Hotel du Vin
Breakfast is, of course, a vital part of any hotel offering. At Hotel du Vin in Newcastle, you can enjoy breakfast in your room or go down to the stylish Bistro du Vin where there’s a buffet option to complement the cooked menu.
If it’s warm enough you can even eat your breakfast on the charming terrace – even in October, there were some hardy folk doing just that. I thoroughly enjoyed my smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on the first morning and classic cooked breakfast the following day.
It’s the quirky touches that make Hotel du Vin so charming – a milk jug in the shape of a cow and tiny individual bottles of juice on the breakfast bar for instance.
Things to do in Ouseburn.
Of course, for many people, a hotel is somewhere to stay while they explore the area and Hotel du Vin is perfectly located for all sorts of attractions in and around Newcastle. It’s about a twenty-minute walk into the centre of Newcastle, but there’s also plenty to do on the doorstep of the hotel. It’s a vibrant part of the City with a thriving live music scene in addition to some quite special attractions.
How about a guided tour of the Victoria Tunnel for example. If you are lucky you might find that the hotel is running one of their tunnel wine tasting events, but if not, you simply shouldn’t miss the chance to explore this piece of industrial engineering. Local volunteer guides will provide you with fascinating stories about the two eras when the Victoria Tunnel made a major contribution to the fabric of the City.
Built between 1839 and 1842, Victoria Tunnel was constructed to transport coal from Spital Tongues to the river underground, so that the local community didn’t have to endure constant coal freight being driven through the main city centre. The innovative design made use of the local geology to dig 2.4 miles and up to 26 m deep through boulder clay, lining the tunnel as it was built with bricks made from the clay that had been extracted. The natural slope of the tunnel meant that the loaded wagons could travel down through the tunnel under their own weight before being hauled back to the colliery by a stationary engine. When the colliery closed in 1860, the tunnel was abandoned.
At the start of the Second World War, the tunnel took on a new role, as an air-raid shelter. Nine shafts were dug down into the tunnel at various points in the city to provide entrances. The tunnel was the main city shelter, housing around 9,000 people. One man went into the tunnel when it first opened as a shelter and stayed there until the end of the war!
Around the corner, Ouseburn Farm, a charity and community farm was founded in 1976 with the intention of providing a ‘green oasis’ for the local community. It’s somewhere to learn more about nature, to get involved in growing food and to get up close and personal with some of the animals they keep. You can go goat walking, join in rabbit and guinea pig petting and grooming or even help wash the reptiles. The dreamcatcher in the photo below was another community project and was built by local school children
A ten minute walk away, The Biscuit Factory is the UK’s largest independent art, craft and design gallery. Listed in The Times’ top 10 Galleries to visit, it has four exhibitions of contemporary art a year, together with a range of original prints, jewellery and crafts.
Ouseburn is also home to some great pubs and restaurants. More about the food in our next feature but, if you ARE staying at Hotel du Vin, you should definitely explore the local pubs.
We spent a happy hour or so at the buzzing Tyne Bar, one of Newcastle’s best-loved independent pubs along with the Cluny, Brinkburn Street Brewery and the Cumberland Arms.
Finally, the Ouseburn Valley is a great area for walking. Hadrian’s Wall passes through Newcastle itself and through Ouseburn. Originally built to keep the Scots out of England, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hotel du Vin is perfectly situated for walkers who want to explore the wall, whether with a day hike or by walking along the entire 80 miles.
For anyone looking to visit Newcastle, Hotel du Vin is an excellent option. There’s plenty of easy parking attached to the hotel and, although it’s away from the main city centre, it’s only a 20-minute walk or 5 minutes in a cab! Ouseburn has a life of its own with a heritage I know I’d like to explore further.
Hotel du Vin
Newcastle upon Tyne