Chris Knox -- The Journal August 24, 2009
ONE of the region's most historic hotels has added a further eight luxury bedrooms as it continues to benefit from booming trade despite the ongoing recession.
Langley Castle Hotel has invested £1.2m in the new rooms as part of the extension of an adjoining coach house, which will now be known as CastleView II, and follows an investment by its owners last year which saw four of its rooms receive a £70,000 facelift. The original plans for CastleView II were first drawn up in 1996 when CastleView I was created by a conversion of a Grade I-listed coach house.
The independently owned hotel, which is located in the South Tyne valley, has managed to avoid the damage done to the UK's tourism industry by the recession, with the 14th Century retreat remaining a popular venue for wedding receptions. The hotel's Josephine Restaurant alone has seen a 46% increase in business since April, with the hotel's workforce increasing from 57 to 87 staff this year.
Built in 1350, during the reign of Edward III, the castle has retained its architectural integrity and is regarded as one of the few medieval fortified Castle Hotels in England.
The hotel has also won numerous awards over the past few years including in the North East Tourism Awards 2002, 2004 & 2006 for Best Small Hotel' and gaining Silver in the Enjoy England Tourism Awards' in 2007.
Anton Phillips, general manager at the hotel, said: "We have done fantastically well this year. While many hotels are struggling we have seen business increase. The hotel industry has been hard by the recession, but our uniqueness has helped support our continued growth."
The Journal, Sep 26 2008 by Geoff Laws
I LOVE castles. Centuries old, their proud battlements and towers withstand everything the weather and changing political climates can throw at them.
Some are grand icons, and some, like Langley, in Northumberland, are more discreet but still as stately. No wonder it's a popular wedding venue.
We, however, were there to sample the Josephine Restaurant. We climbed the beautiful wooden staircase, past suits of armour at every turn, and settled ourselves in the lounge where, from out of the blue, my companion agreed I would drive home and promptly ordered a G&T. The deal was so swiftly done I hardly noticed it.
As she sat, glass in hand enjoying a selection of dainty appetisers, a sling of cucumber cradling prawns, triangles of focaccia with feta and capers and a mini-cheese scone with ratatouille and pancetta, I regrouped.
The table d'hôte menu had a good range of options and we agreed, collaboratively this time, on our choices.
First up was my oven roasted pigeon breast, textures of cauliflower and roast mixed seed oil. The artistic presentation made the most of this dish, with tender pigeon breasts neatly piled at one end next to a diagonal stripe of toasted seeds, a swish of cauliflower purée and a tempura-battered floret.
My companion's smoked cheese and horseradish bread and butter pudding was an intriguing partnership of savoury with hot spikes of flavour that worked very well. A gentle tomato and basil jelly timbale, plus fronds of oil-dressed roquette salad added to the peaks and dales of flavour that ran throughout.
An intermediate course of espresso-sized tomato soup or sorbet gave us a breather before the next course.
A wedding party was in full swing upstairs, but the castle's sturdy walls and floors soaked up every decibel of the revelry so the dining room remained peaceful.
Our main courses of turbot and duck created ripples of delight. The chilli cracker crust turbot had a coating not quite as crisp as expected, but compensated for by the exciting mix of chilli, cumin and tomato that surprised the meaty fish within. The accompanying broad bean risotto lacked Parmesan edge, but the pimento coulis lifted things to a good finish.
The duo of duck, however, was a knockout. The confit leg, sitting on a bed of wilted pak choi, was topped with pink grapefruit that cut a citrus dash through the rich, succulent meat. The roasted breast was as good as it gets and, coupled with a tian of steamed beetroot and ginger made this dish a great success.
An intermediary shot glass of pineapple and watermelon juice prepared the taste buds for desserts of peach and apricot cheesecake and vanilla yoghurt mousse. The cheesecake had delicate fruit flavours in its creamy body, with a serving of apricots poached in honey and brandy and an apricot flapjack for good measure. The chef's flair and imagination were also demonstrated in his vanilla yoghurt mousse served with caramelised banana and crème Anglaise.
Although the mousse was more panacotta than mousse it was, nonetheless, good and came with an interesting brulée-topped slice of banana and a swish of crème Anglaise. A delicious finish to a good meal.
Espresso was a reviving must for the drive home. As soon as we were in the car, my companion selected our music for the homeward journey and immediately dozed off leaving me with Ian Dury and the Blockheads for company all the way home!
Food and Drink- Metro Newspaper (Nov. 2007) - Bev Stevenson
It's not often I feel duty bound to mention a venues toilets in the first sentence, but I'm going to make an exception here because The Langley's lavatories, based in the tower are as fine an example of medieval garderobes as your ever likely to come across. I wouldn't necessarily advise you visit purely to view the latrines; you can be assured that Langley has plenty more to offer.
Half an hour outside Newcastle, this 14th-century castle is grandiose on a large scale; as dashing as it is dignified, as theatrical as it is stately. . Topiaries of box and yew, studded with candles, straddle the entrance into a setting which is one of the top venues for weddings in the area. The two-metre thick walls can take a lot of disco music which we were to discover, as wedding reception was in full swing on the evening we went, but it was so well organised that neither the wedding party, diners or residents felt as if we had intruded into the others reverie. Furthermore, unlike other castles in the area which look stupendous but dish up a woeful standard of food, The Josephine Restaurant (named after the wife of former owner Cadwallader Bates) is as prepossessing as the venue itself.
I think part of Langley's confidence comes from the fact that many of the staff have been there for years, including the head chef Andrew Smith who is approaching a decade of service. In the fickle world of the hospitality industry this is practically unheard of. As is serving what I thought was a new potato as an amuse-bouche. In fact this was a tiny baked specimen stuffed with Parma ham and oozing mozzarella, before ingeniously put together again. That someone has turned their attention to the humble potato and lavished so much care and attention on it deserves praise, especially as it tasted pretty good too.
With candlelight and portraits mounted in lavish guilt frames it may sound portentous, yet it never once felt stuffy or overbearing. The same can be said of the menu, which at £32.95 per person for four courses was value for money.
The warm pheasant sausage was shored up beautifully with a full-on Cumberland sauce: Spicy, ruby red and full of port. However, although the pear and chervil jelly looked the part it was far too subtle for its own good. Not so the loin of pork; disks of flavoursome meat interlocked with crispy, browned disks of potato rosti with a delicate thyme cream.
The rabbit main course was beautifully roasted, with wild mushrooms and chestnuts rolled in Parma ham. Unfortunately the butternut squash chips and carrots were of too similar a texture. Game chips would have been a good alternative. No complaints however with the rump of lamb; good and flavoursome with a nice touch of a dauphinouse made from sweet potatoes laced with a classic redcurrant and port jus.
The intermediate courses of creamy spinach and bacon soup, and a flirty little raspberry parfait, were more than a bonus and would put many a kitchen to shame. As would the puddings; Chocolate Heaven, with its mix of white and dark chocolate offerings, and the superb raspberry risotto served with a slab of brownie.
The Langley is a special place and thankfully it has the staff and a kitchen that match. With a good bottle of wine, this meal came to far less than many others I've had recently, but here you seem to get so much more.
Tynedale takes gold at tourism awards- Hexham Courant (Oct. 13, 2006).
Tynedale's finest tourist services have been honoured by the region's tourism industry.
The Once Brewed Tourist Information Centre and Langley Castle Hotel have won top prizes in the 2006 North East England Tourism Awards.
Northumberland National Park Authority's Once Brewed claimed gold in the best tourist information centre section, following the visit of a mystery shopper.
Langley Castle took gold in the small hotel category.
Both winners will go on to represent the North-East in the national Enjoy England Awards for Excellence to be held in London in spring 2007.
Once Brewed visitor centre manager Alison Blair, said: "This is a fantastic award that recognises all the hard work of all of the staff a t the national park tourist information centre. It also highlights our excellent relationship with local communities and businesses."
Langley Castle Claimed the award for the third time, having lifted it in 2002 and 2004.
General Manager at Langley Castle Anton Phillips, said: "It has been very gratifying. This is the third time but this is a slightly different regime and I think they have upped the tempo for these awards. It was very well received by the management and staff. The owner Stuart Madnick has put a lot of money into the castle over the last five to ten years. The physical input is nothing without the support of the staff to support the work which has been undertaken."
The awards in their second year were presented at a ceremony in Newcastle on Tuesday night hosted by TV's Wendy Gibson.
The Journal (December 19, 2005)Hotel offers guests 700 years of history
When a Scottish army destroyed the hall house at Langley, it did not take owner Sir Thomas Lucy long to wreak revenge.
He was one of the commanders of the English force which shortly afterwards defeated the Scots at the Battle of Neville’s Cross, near Durham.
Revenge was one thing. The other was that Sir Thomas needed a new home and this time he built himself a structure which would see off any attackers- Langley Castle.
The 14th Century castle is a landmark on the road from Tynedale to Alston. After a major fire in 1405 it remained empty for centuries until it was bought by Cadwallader Bates in the late 19th Century, who set about restoring it as his home. He was of the opinion that the fire, paradoxically, helped preserve the castle in its 14th Century form, since other inhabited castles had been altered or added to by successive generations.
Cadwallader died in 1902 and the restoration was completed by his wife Josephine, who added a rooftop chapel in his memory.
The Castle became a girls’ school, a base for medieval banquets and a private residence.
This February sees the 20th anniversary of its conversion into a hotel. It was seen in a magazine by Professor of Information Technology Stuart Madnick, from Boston, US. He bought it and turned it into a hotel, and still owns it. The grade 1 listed fortress has four stars, 19 rooms with 7ft-thick walls, and three RAC ribbons for food.
Hotel general manage Anton Phillips, who has been at Langley for 15 years, along with other long-serving staff, says: “Guests can stay in a genuine castle. The way they see it now is basically as it was almost 700 years ago.”
The Castle does a booming business in weddings- 28 in busy August and 19 in the traditionally quieter November. There are plans to restore the chapel and use it for civil weddings and as a place for couples to renew vows.
Small is beautiful for Langley Castle- Hexham Courant (Oct. 2004)
Langley Castle is celebrating after being named “Best Small Hotel of the Year” in the Pride of Northumberland Awards 2004.
The Castle will now go forward to the national final, with judging to conclude in April 2005.
General manager Anton Phillips travelled to Redworth Hall, Newton Aycliffe to collect the award with his deputy Fiona Thompson.
This is the second time the hotel has won the award since 2002.
Last month Langley Castle was one of only nineteen hotels in England to be awarded a white ribbon by the RAC, which reflects the high standards of comfort, hospitality, service, cuisine, and demonstrating commitment.
Mr Phillips said: “The staff at Langley Castle are the key to our success. Without the enthusiasm and professionalism of team members the hotel would surely not be picking up two awards for excellence in one year.”
In addition to being an award winning hotel, the castle is also a leading wedding venue.
Les Routiers Hotel of the Year 2001
"Les Routiers members have all passed a rigorous initial inspection before inclusion in this guide. This ensures that they meet our exacting standards by providing quality, value for money and a warm welcome. However, there are those who have achieved levels of hospitality and cuisine which surpass our 'entry' standards, and to recognise their achievements we are pleased to announce the following winners.
Hotel of the Year Langley Castle Hotel
"The building itself dates from 1350 but its history as an hotel really begins in 1870 when it was purchased from the Crown by Cadwallader Bates. It was he who restored the building until his death in 1902 and his wife continued until hers in 1933. The history is a work in itself so I shall proceed to our tribute.
There is rarely an opportunity to prepare a short piece about a hotel as there is about this one. Langley Castle is stupendous! The entire building is so imbued and soaked in its history it would be difficult to stay there without feeling the resonances of its past. All of this past has been woven into the fabric of the business so you feel a part of it as you enter its portals.
There are six [eight] main apartments named after a principal past occupant. All of the rooms are individually decorated and furnished to the highest standard and are lavish and practical at one and the same time. the hotel has been a member of Les Routiers for many years and the consistency of service and welcome, of value and delight has been, if anything, improved upon.
We take great pleasure in making this most impressive property our Hotel of the Year for 2001."
Ashley Courtney's Guide to Highly Recommended Hotels, an extract:
"We were totally unprepared for the impact that Langley Castle Hotel had on us, it was impossible to appreciate the 'out of this world' fairy-tale atmosphere of this well-restored castle without actually experiencing it! Set in ten acres of wooded grounds, complete with fascinating history, it was built in 1350 during the reign of Edward III and is now regarded as the only medieval fortified castle hotel in England. Our reception was extremely courteous, friendly and helpful, and we were immediately shown to our very gracious bedroom - all eight guest chambers are furnished to a very high standard, each has been individually designed to complement its unique style and to provide guests with every comfort. Since the present accommodation is always heavily booked, additional high quality rooms called Castle View will shortly be completed for the discerning visitor [now completed]. Stained glass windows dominate the magnificent drawing room where drinks are served from the adjoining oak-paneled bar. Tastefully decorated to reflect ages past, guests can relax and appreciate the architecture whilst being warmed by an open fire. Dinner in the magnificent dining room was superb! The service was faultless. The chef is obviously very talented - making full use of local and seasonal fare - a veritable gourmet's delight. Whilst Langley Castle is a superb setting for a quiet romantic weekend it can also provide first class conference facilities and cater for that special private function with a high standard of hospitality to suite every taste. Try a 'Langley Hely-Dine' - a helicopter tour of Northumberland, then indulge in an elegant candlelit meal in fairy tale surroundings! Accommodation and food are outstandingly good value for money and we felt that the hotel could increase its tariff substantially and still have a long list of guests eager to be accommodated. Langley Castle is an inspirational experience that we heartily recommend."
Men's Health - in "ten of the most romantic hideaways":
"Just before you reach the valley floor you see the crenellations of a magnificent castle, a humdinger of a fortress built in 1350 to keep out the marauding Scots. It was a gutted shell until the 1890's and uninhabited for centuries, so its mediaeval appeal was never watered down by later additions.
The interior is no disappointment: a huge drawing room has bare stone walls, a roaring open fire and plush furnishings. Four-poster beds, mullioned windows, an obligatory ghost and a chef with imagination complete the picture. Well, almost. What gives Langley Castle that extra finishing touch is the helicopter which lands on the lawn as you're finishing off your apéritif. Before you dinner á deux, take your lover for a 25 minute flight over Hadrian's Wall and the majestic Northumbrian countryside."
Autoworld - The Renault Magazine - "Our Friends in the North":
"With stone walls a good six feet thick or more, huge four-poster beds and a mere eight bedrooms concealed within its sturdy square fortress tower, the 14th century Langley Castle in the ancient kingdom of Northumbria combines security, luxury and exclusivity in a manner not unlike the new Renault Safrane Executive. As such, what is surely the most romantic hotel in this wild and remote region of northern England provided the perfect starting point for a four day tour across the border via some of the UK's finest roads to the oldest whiskey distillery in Scotland.
Owned by a succession of de Tindals, de Boltbys, and de Lucys before passing to the last of the splendidly named Umfravilles of Prudhoe, the old castle and its manor eventually came into possession of the Earl of Northumberland. He lost it during his prolonged struggle with the King - usefully described for us by one William Shakespeare in his Henry VI - and the castle fell into ruin. In time it developed to the Earl of Derwentwater, yet another noblemen who felt suicidally compelled to pick a fight with his monarch and whom, as a result, lost his head at Tower Hill after backing the wrong team in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1714. His brother succeeded to the title and to Langley but made the same mistake thirty years later and was beheaded 250 years ago ...
Once again Langley and its land lay in ruins but, in 1882, it was purchased by a former Northumberland county sheriff, Cadwallader John Bates, who set about restoring it to the state one sees today. Now owned by an American academic, its new life as a luxury hotel belies its turbulent six hundred year past. Many original features remain - the medieval latrines or garderobes are said to be some of the finest in Europe - but a sensitive programme of restoration means that while Langley retains the ambience of the fine old Grade 1 listed building it so evidently is, guests do not miss out on the expected luxuries - with rooms boasting saunas and spa baths as well as elegant window seats accommodated within the sturdy walls. With prices for rooms in the Castle starting from a little over £50 [see Tariff for latest], and seasonal game and fish prominent on the well-chosen menu in the restaurant downstairs (named "Josephine" after Cadwallader's wife), Langley Castle's long historical connections and unique setting make it an ideal base for exploring nearby Hexham with its magnificent Abbey, Durham away to the south-east, Hadrian's Wall and, best of all, Belsay Hall."
Add Your Opinion
If you have feedback or a review please .