Lord Crewe Arms: A beautiful guest house beloved of W. H. Auden

‘No other spot brings me sweeter memories,’ remarked the poet W. H. Auden about the Lord Crewe Arms. 90 years later, the beauty of this historic bolthole, on the Northumberland/Co Durham border, hasn’t changed. Harriet Compston paid a visit.

In the village of Blanchland, the 12th-century building was originally a guest house for Blanchland Abbey. Today, the Calcot Collection runs the show and the company’s clever touches — as seen in Barnsley House — shine through.

A roaring fire greeted me, with a dog napping under a table and candles glowing in front of mullioned windows. Exposed stone walls, flagstone floors and beams sit alongside contemporary touches, such as neat leather armchairs and neutral paint colours.

The 21 rooms are spread across the main house, a row of old miners’ cottages and the old pub across the street. Some have wood stoves, others a roll top bath; all are incredibly cosy. My bedroom, with its thick woollen curtains, blocked out any fear of an early wake-up.

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The superb food is modern British with big flavours, made using local produce. After cocktails in the barrel-vaulted Crypt Bar, we feasted in the elegant dining room: my favourite dish was the super succulent roasted guinea hen with a garden herb sauce.

During the day, we hiked across the heather-clad North Pennine moors. There’s also cycling, fishing and game shooting in season. This part of Northumberland is a dark sky reserve so the stargazing was fantastic. I agree with Auden: this is a place of sweet memories.

Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland, Northumberland, DH8 9SP. From £169 per night, including breakfast — see www.lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk for more details

Best time to go

Any time. Go in the warmer months if you like walking or in winter if you fancy snow and stargazing.

What to do while you’re there

  • Explore Hadrian’s Wall: there are several spots nearby, including the vast Roman frontier site, Vindolanda, and Housesteads Fort.

Hadrian’s Wall, one of the many iconic places that’s looked after by English Heritage.

  • Pick up a ‘bait box’ from the kitchen, grab a rug and head to the Derwent Reservoir — only two miles away — for a spot of sailing
  • Check out Jaspah Crewe,Blanchland’s charming community shop selling beautiful handcrafted gifts, made by local artisans