The Joiners Arms review: Stylish French-inspired B&B in the heart of the Northumberland countryside
There wasn’t a soul to be seen as we drove down the winding country road as it meanders its way to Newton-by-the-Sea, a picturesque spot around eight miles east of Alnwick.
In such a rural area of tranquillity it seemed odd to be met with double yellow lines throughout as we arrived in the village. As soon as we walked through the door of The Joiner’s Arms, however, the double yellows soon made sense – it was filled to its beams with drinkers and diners.
Drivers needn’t worry though, a large car park has been created a couple of minutes’ walk up the road to cater for the area’s popularity – and not impact on the locals.
Owned by The Apartment Group – whose portfolio includes Sunderland’s The Palm and bars such as As You Like It in Newcastle – it’s become an off-shoot for guests at their nearby wedding venue, the perennially popular Newton Hall.
There was plenty of people relaxing ahead of a wedding the next day on our visit, but this pub’s mix of shabby chic meets country pub cosiness meets modern amenities seems to be pulling in plenty of tourists and day trippers too.
We were one of a handful of diners staying at the pub. It only has five suites, but each is individually styled and, like all Apartment Group venues, is teeming with quirky character. Ours was Sennen Cove and though its name may be Cornish, its theme was French chic – with a huge, boudoir-style bed, vintage wardrobe and a roll-top bath big enough for two to sink into.
Flat-screen TVs with Netflix and a free cocktail-making kit on an Art Deco drinks trolley only serves to ramp up the romance. The only downside, as is the case with many old hotels, was that the room got incredibly hot, and we very much needed the free-standing fan.
We made our way downstairs to dinner where the pub is an equally stylish affair with a low wooden ceiling, creating a cosy atmosphere, which is added to by green, banquette studded leather seating and shelves filled with foliage, books and bric’a’brac. Much like the on-site parking, however, tables were at a premium – so make sure you book (you can do this in advance on the website).
The menu had just changed on our visit and there’s plenty of hearty options on there to sate your appetite after a long drive – many of which are seasoned with herbs from the pub’s garden – such as starters of ham hock sausage roll (£6.95), a platter of local seafood (£19.95), shepherd’s pie (£13.95), as well as a range of stotties (served until 5pm).
We chose the Camembert to start (£13.50), one of a decent selection of vegetarian starters, which is served with a huge round of bread from Trotters the Bakery, which is based up the road in Seahouses. It’s a hard starter to get wrong and this one hit the spot with plenty of gooey cheese and accompanying balsamic vinegar and rock salt to add an extra layer of flavour.
For mains, I had the 7oz fillet steak – a dish Apartment Group venues always seem to do well – and was presented with a satisfying hunk of medium rare meat, buttery pink on the inside and plump with flavour. It comes with chips, onion rings, beef tomato and mushroom for £25.95, but I swerved the carbs for extra salad which was no problem with the accommodating staff. Despite juggling large tables of wedding guests, they did a good job of dealing with the smaller tables too.