Unseen Britain - The Golden Lion Hotel Northallerton, Yorkshire
By Alan Russell
The Golden Lion Hotel in the High Street of Northallerton is an old coaching inn and still has the archway at its front that is tall enough to allow stage coaches through into what was the stable yard at the back of the hotel and is now a large car park.
The hotel was extensively rebuilt in the mid eighteenth century. A guest staying in those days on arrival today would probably not feel their surroundings had changed that much in nearly three hundred years. During that rebuild pieces of medieval masonry were discovered dating back to the 13th century and traces of Tudor brickwork were also found so some parts of the building must be 700 years old. Any recent updates and refurbishments have been sympathetic to retaining as much as possible of the historical fabric of the building.
The room we had for the Friday night of our stay was #31 located at the back of the building. It was well furnished, comfortable and as I appreciated on a wet Friday afternoon, warm and cosy. The only problem we had during our stay was that there was a live gig going on in the downstairs bar and we could hear every bass note, every treble note and all those in between through the floors and walls between us and the gig. We did complain to reception and were offered another room and we were also told that the live music would stop at ten which it did.
When booking just ask about live music taking place just in case you want to stay in your room quietly rather than joining the gig downstairs.
We were both overtired from our travels during the day and all we wanted for dinner was something light. I chose the game terrine with cranberry served with a small salad and homemade chutney. This was perfect for a light meal in taste and quantity which proves my belief that if food is full of flavour then you really do not have to eat a lot to enjoy it. Heather went for a starter dish with grilled haloumi and light salad served with another homemade chutney. No need to say more as both plates were cleaned before being taken away.
For breakfast there are the standard choices and I settled for the smoked haddock and poached egg with lots of toast and coffee. Again, no need to say more as the plate was cleared. One rather large couple on the table near me ordered their respective breakfasts. The lady went for the haddock and poached egg while the man went for the full English which when it came was massive. His wife, presumably and you will understand the presumption when you get to the end of this piece, then leant forward with her fork, took one of the fried eggs from his plate and said that he really should be cutting down a bit.
Service throughout was good and tolerant. I say tolerant because there was an incident with the plug for the bath tub. We couldn’t find it. So, I went to reception and asked if they had a spare one for our room which they didn’t. I went back to the room muttering something about plugs. The lady in charge of housekeeping came up and we went into the bathroom together. She bent down, pulled the plug out of the overflow in the bath tub, handed it to me and very politely told me that she had checked the room thoroughly before we had arrived.
When I was checking out on the Saturday morning there was an elderly couple in front of me at the reception desk.
‘Oh yes thank you, we both slept very well last night. So well we were wondering what time we could come back this morning and have a little sleep before lunch’.
The lady then went on.
‘Oh, while we are here could we book to come again please? We would like to stay on the 30th September. Just for one night and would it be possible to have the same room overlooking the High Street?’.
She got out one of those very small diaries that has a very small pencil in the spine.
‘Yes, the 30th….it’s our anniversary’.
She looked at me.
‘We are married, we wouldn’t think of staying at a hotel unless we were’.
I just don’t know what she thought was going through my mind but having made mention of the subject I then began to think that perhaps neither of them were as innocent or frail as they made themselves out to be.
Date of Stay: Overnight 19th & 20th August 2016
Would we recommend the hotel? YES
Would we stay again? YES