The Queen's Head Hotel Berwick is a little place those game shooting in Northumberland should be taking notice of.
Tucked away in the centre of Berwick, the Grade II listed six-bedroom Queen’s Head Hotel has been under the stewardship of Garry and Jo-Anne Greenaway for the past 14 years.
We found the hotel easily enough after a pleasant three-and-a-half hour drive from Nottinghamshire, the fact the road running immediately up to it was deserted was an indication we might find our stay peaceful if nothing else.
While much of the hotel’s decoration is contemporary, one can tell the building has a long history. For instance the stairwell to our room was characteristically tight. It’s worth stating from the outset this hotel offers more than enough to suit the eat-drink-sleep needs of lone sportsmen or pairs who’d rather share a room than take two singles.
The rooms themselves have been refurbished to a very good standard; our room – a twin – was small enough to be viewed as comfortable for two but still large enough to practise double gunning manoeuvres.
The famous kitchen
A real draw for guests at the Queen’s Head Hotel is the food, and in fact a lot of the restaurant’s trade comes from outside the hotel walls – expect to hear chatter about golf, history walks and Basset hounds within.
As a member of a local shooting syndicate, Garry supplies the game on the menu himself – via the appropriate game dealer route of course – and food suppliers are also listed on A-boards outside the hotel’s front door.
Chef Gillet Libabu (one of three chefs) really knows his onions (or chicken liver pâté, fish pie, pheasant, lemon drizzle cake and strawberry meringue mess in our case). A party trick of mine is to impersonate a rotund dinner guest who has eaten far too much but still begs for more, and I could quite easily have wheeled him out when a third pint of Secret Kingdom (from Hadrian & Borders Brewery) was pushed across my bow.
Post-puddings, an evening stroll to see the mouth of the River Tweed and the 659-metre long Royal Border Bridge was aborted after 10 minutes thanks to a bullying wind. It didn’t really matter.
As a people watcher, it was easy to relax back in the bar and listen to our host engaging with other customers in a genial and genuine fashion. Given the close proximity to the East Coast Mainline and the wealth of sport available in this part of the British Isles, this might not be the last time I walk through his doors.
Cost: From £80
Shoots near by: Ayton Castle, the Lammermuirs, Westruther and Alnwick are nearby, but with Scotland, Northumberland and the River Tweed on your doorstep (the hotel has links with the Exclusively Scottish sporting agency) you’re spoilt for choice.
Contact: 01289 307852 or visit queensheadberwick.co.uk
Scores for the Queen’s Head Hotel, Berwick
Catering: The food here is by far the hotel’s best asset. There is plenty of local fare on the menu, portion sizes are just right and the prices are entirely reasonable. 8/10
Accommodation: Our room was more than adequate for the needs of small groups of sportsmen. With only six rooms to fill you might struggle to get a team here though 7/10
Atmosphere: Friendly and certainly not overbearing. 8/10
Service: Garry served everyone in the restaurant seamlessly during dinner and could be found pouring malts well after the tables had been cleared. 8/10
Suitability for shooters: The no dogs policy will be a drawback, as will the lack of shotgun cabinets for security-conscious guns, but it’s worth saying you can park your car virtually on the hotel’s doorstep. The proximity to sport couldn’t be better too, which means you won’t have to drive far to find what you’re after. 7/10