Macdonald Hotels invited Vows & Venues to review one of their prime wedding venues, which has seen a surge in wedding bookings over the last year. The luxury four-star Linden Hall is one of the North East’s most prestigious country house wedding destinations, catering for weddings with up to 200 guests in idyllic countryside surroundings. Here’s how our journalist Victoria Galligan found her stay and why she thinks it's ideal for a winter wedding...
We stayed at Linden Hall in Northumbria during one of the heaviest snowfalls of recent years – and discovered that a more perfect venue for a winter wedding you’d be hard-pushed to find. If you dream of holding your wedding amid a backdrop of rolling, white hills and icicles hanging from roofs, then Linden Hall is ideal. And with its rich history, beautiful architecture and impressive grounds (complete with 18-hole golf course) then even if your day isn’t a snowy paradise, guests will be impressed with every aspect of the culturally-rich venue.
As we drove down the long, private driveway to the secluded building, I snapped away at the tree-lined road on my camera from the passenger seat, telling my husband, “It’s like Narnia here!”
We were met by the friendly receptionist, who told us that the Monck cocktail bar was open 24 hours a day and that we could order snacks from there if we got peckish before dinner. When we arrived in our perfectly prepared room, however, we were welcomed with a fruit bowl and chocolate truffles, so there was no need for an afternoon bar visit after all. In the warmer months, the hotel’s Linden Tree pub opens and provides residents and golfers with a more relaxed dining and drinking area with a children’s menu to boot.
After checking out the spacious, modern bathroom – which had a speaker linked to the TV so I could listed to some tunes while getting ready – I ran a lavender-scented bubble bath with the products provided by the hotel. A fluffy, white robe and slippers in the wardrobe were swiftly used and as hubby was hooked to the football anyway – thanks to the hotel’s excellent wi-fi connection – a little “me time” was in order. I didn’t have time to check out the spa but if I had, there was a wide range of Elemis treatments available and a fully-equipped spa area with nail bar, relaxing treatment rooms, swimming pool and a Techno-gym (for those feeling guilty about the chocolate truffles). A steam room, sauna and Microgym complete the leisure set-up, and the hotel offers a range of great-value spa packages making it ideal for taking friends or relative in the days leading up to your wedding.
Dressed for dinner, we headed through the hotel to the cocktail bar. Leafing through the huge historical books on display in Linden Hall, I found out that the Grade II-listed hall was owned by the Adamson family in the 1920s. You can see photos of the owners and their friends throughout the centuries, posing smiling from horseback and standing next to early motor cars. The hall’s history goes all the way back to 1813, when Charles William Bigge, a Newcastle banker, built the hall in his 3,000 acres at Longhorsely. The hall became a hotel in 1978, and today retains 400 acres of woodland and parkland, and it’s easy to see why it has been such a popular leisure destination for the past 40 years.
Have a beautiful winter wedding at Linden Hall
As we walked through the hotel in the early evening, snow-covered scenes could be seen out of every window and made us feel extra lucky to be in such a warm, luxurious surrounding. The Monck cocktail bar was busy but we found a table and sank into the leather sofas, enjoying a smooth glass of red wine served by the Italian barman – who asked us about our stay and chatted to us about the hotel. When I asked him later if he served a certain drink, he answered to my surprise, “Whey aye man!”
The meal we were served in the Dobson Restaurant was beyond five stars and left us in little wonder why the eatery has two prestigious AA Rosettes, putting it in the top 10% of restaurants nationwide. After perusing the menu and placing our order, an amuse bouche followed – cauliflower pannacotta with roasted aubergine puree. We both opted for the duck salad, which came artistically arranged with succulent rolls of meat interspaced with salad – puy lentils, pickled carrots, radish – and wasabi yoghurt. An orange sorbet followed, before the main course. I had chosen roasted pave of miso-marinated cod with noodles and pak choi, while hubby went for the steak with handcuff chips and peppercorn sauce. A more succulent, well-cooked piece of fish I cannot recall eating and, washed down with another glass of red, I was ready for my cheese board with chutney.
The roaring fire in the lounge area made sipping Irish coffees after our meal particularly comforting as we looked up at the dome-shaped skylight and admired our surroundings – huge oil paintings, busts and sculptures adorned the hotel and made us feel like we were a part of the antique polished furniture.
A wedding was in process in the Bigge Suite – named after our banker friend, William – where 200 reception guests can be catered for in spacious surroundings, beautifully decorated to suit your taste with views over the grounds. The hotel offers a Winter Wedding Package for £4,500 and this includes room hire for your ceremony for 60 people, mulled drinks reception, canapés, three-course wedding breakfast with wine, the hire of the suite for your wedding breakfast and evening reception for 120 people, with sandwiches with potato wedges served in the evening. This also includes table linen and napkins, chair covers and sashes, DJ and a hotel suite for the happy couple on your wedding night.
After a relaxing night’s sleep in our huge queen-sized bed, we checked out and the receptionist asked if we had enjoyed our stay. I said we had, and that the room, meal and surroundings were just fantastic. There’s no doubt in my mind that if you choose Linden Hall as your winter wedding venue, you will create lasting, happy memories in a special place where you will want to come back year after year to celebrate every anniversary. And whether you end up enjoying a winter wonderland or throw a soiree in the sun, the only danger in booking Linden Hall will be that the beautiful building might just upstage the bride…