We were pitiful human beings approaching the impressive Clennell Hall wet, cold and desperate for a comfortable bed for the night, yet as I entered the reception I felt quite meek somewhat overwhelmed by the building itself. It did not present an ambience of what I would call posh, more a lived in stately home, but was obviously a hotel now. Nobody in reception at all, the floorboards creaked beneath my feet and bizarrely I tried to walk quietly even though I wanted some attention. Is there anyone here? – I hesitantly called almost frightened as to who or what might reply. No answer, so I started to make my way further into the building, looking for signs of life… I heard some talking, and followed the sound… I came face to face with a kind looking man wearing a large kipper tie portraying a saxophone playing rabbit. Umm, I was looking for a room for the night, can you help?
He in turn called : Roz there is a man here looking for a room for the night… I then met the lovely Roz, a lady that you immediately knew would be friendly, and helpful… she was!
She is the joint owner with husband Rocky, who we were going to meet later in the bar.
We were set up with a superb room, largest on-suite I’ve ever had – Janet had a tour of the hotel along with a potted history – the building had at its heart a crypt that was part of the original Pele Tower dating back to the 1300s that has been evolved into its current rambling building. The location is remote to say the least, the barman, Dave ( the kipper tie man) told us of the ‘wet weekend’ one September a few years back when the hotel was completely cut off for 4 days by floods – with plenty of food and booze the guests and staff just partied the whole time – an event that is now celebrated every year by all the original guests who have to arrive, dressed in some watery theme – being Wells’ we now have an open invite 🙂
The host, Rocky, was another character, larger than the life who made us feel that we had been regulars for years… then there was Gordon, the chef – Newcastle born and bred he not only provided us with an amazing lasagne that evening – oh should have mentioned WE were the ONLY guests there, that night – the hotel was recovering from a fully booked weekend wedding and party – so this night was a sort of day off!
Back to Gordon – he is a Michelin rosette chef, he looked after our every culinary need, both that evening and a tremendous breakfast – also making us special fresh orange drinks, that’s not all – he even offered – if we stayed another night to drive us into Newcastle for a bit of sight-seeing!
I do not think we have ever had, or will have again such an unexpected, overwhelming show of hospitality.
Our sincerest thanks to Roz and Rocky, Dave and merci beaucoup, Gordon!