It’s not very often that you can use the words pets welcome and pure luxury in the same sentence, but The Joiners Arms are completely redefining dog-friendly hotels in the North East.
Last week, Dan, Jax and I were invited along for a midweek stay at Northumberland’s only 5* inn to experience their dog-friendly rooms in exchange for an honest review. It was a dinner, bed and breakfast rate for 1 night gifted to us – we paid for anything in addition to this including drinks and a completely unnecessary dessert we shared during our evening meal (worth the food coma tho).
On arrival The Joiners Arms looks like a standard coastal pub. Located in the tiny fishing village of Newton-by-the-Sea, there’s nothing flash about the venue from the outside – which makes what’s inside even more amazing.
And from the minute we entered we were spoilt. Jax too!
All guests staying at the hotel get a complimentary drink on arrival whilst they check on your room to ensure it’s ready. Check-in is 3.00pm and we arrived around 2.45pm with no expectation that our room would be ready.
It was, but we had our pints of Moretti and were settled into a cosy corner of the bar. Plus, Jax had been given a small bag of homemade treats from a waiter as his welcome gift, so he was nice and content too.
The bar and restaurant is all bare wood, exposed stone complemented by copper furniture and dim lighting. There’s also various pieces throughout the venue which pays homage to quintessential British pub décor, including some old bar stools and vintage lampshades lining the bar. It makes for a modern yet completely cosy spot.
The manager, James, who looked after us on the first day of our stay was brilliant. As were all of the staff to be fair – the service was literally faultless. And I felt like it wasn’t just for us either, they seemed just as attentive and helpful with everyone who visited.
James took us up to our room when we were ready. We stayed in the Sebastia. And whilst I’d poured over pictures and their Instagram ahead of our stay, walking in to the room, it was better than I even imagined.
We honestly couldn’t believe a room this nice could be dog-friendly. It was huge, lots of space for Jax to move around, French doors overlooking fields of sheep (perfect for pooches), a ginormous ornate bed and the most glorious roll-top bath in the corner of the room too.
There were dog bowls and tennis balls in one corner ready for Jax’ arrival and a free cocktail-making station in the other for Dan and I.
Perfectly measured out, it included all of the necessary ingredients and garnishes to make a textbook French Martini! A gorgeous little touch that I hadn’t seen anywhere before.
All of the toiletries were L’Occitane and smelt like sherbet – almost good enough to eat. There was another bag of treats for Jax as well as two Guylian chocolates on the bed for us and soft, fluffy robes in the wardrobe ready to wrap around us as we stepped out of the bath.
The tea coffee station included handmade Dutch Shortbread, locally-sourced, freshly ground coffee for the cafetière along with a range of tea and sachets of Aero hot chocolate.
The room felt romantic, and quite grand, with dark walls, heavy velvet curtains, thick carpets and plush old-fashioned furniture. It was quirky without being over-the-top.
The bathroom was, again, huge with a spacious walk in shower. There’s only 5 boutique suites at the luxury inn and it’s clear they’ve chosen to ensure a small number of guests are well looked and comfortable rather than making money from more occupants.
Jax had a good sniff around and decided he liked it. Especially when he spotted the sheep from the double French doors. He likes to think he can fight all of the sheep, but when he gets up close, he literally shits himself.
Once we’d settled and unpacked what we needed to, we thought we’d scope out the local area and get our bearings for a big walk the following day.
Directly opposite The Joiners Arms is a road leading all the way down to the coast, a short 5 to 10 minute walk and you’re on the beach. We were heading that way when we saw a sign and public footpath leading to Newton Point. We decided to change course and venture that way to see what it was all about.
It’s a high point of the village which offers incredible views across the coast and the Farne Islands. The route will take you all the way down to the beach and you can do a loop back up to the inn in around 30 minutes.
You’ll pass St. Mary’s Church, or Tin Church as it’s known locally, which is unusual to say the least. Built from corrugated steel sheeting but still rocking some beautiful stain glass windows.
We’d decided that the next day we’d walk all the way to Dunstanburgh Castle and stop off at The Ship in the Square, a pub converted from a 18th century house just by the entrance to the beach from Low Newton. It too is a dog-friendly pub, serving local and craft ales only, and outside there’s a huge green and some picnic benches to enjoy a pint and watch the waves.
The walk to Dunstanburgh Castle and back takes around 2.5 hours. But there’s many walks varying in length and difficult. Ask at The Joiners Arms for a walks and trails leaflet – they have a booklet telling you the exact routes to and from the inn with step by step directions and what to look out for during your trek.
As part of the deal that we were invited to enjoy, there was a two course evening meal included.
The Joiners Arms is part of the Apartment Group, responsible for Le Petit Chateau, The Palm in Sunderland, Newton Hall, Holy Hobo and As You Like It to name a few. I’ve worked with the group numerous times and never been let down. All of the menus at the various spots I’ve ate at from the Apartment Group have menus of a similar ilk. Not in a bad way by any means, it’s always good food.
But they definitely have a familiarity to them at each venue. I expected something along the same lines at The Joiners Arms too.
I was wrong, naturally. The Joiners Arms menu is a totally different concept. Celebrating local and seasonal produce, it merges iconic Northern dishes with gastropub flair.
The restaurant is split into two, one part dog-friendly and the other not. We were sat into a cosy window seat with Jax by our feet and ordered a glass of merlot for me and a pint of Moretti for Dan.
The menu does recommend the various wines or craft ales that are best suited to each dish too, which I loved.
I had the Oak Smoked Salmon to start, whilst Dan had the Haggis Sausage Roll. I always love a smoked salmon entrée as it’s light and fresh and not overly filling. But man did I have food envy over Dan’s choice of first course.
It was beautifully seasoned, proper meaty and boasted flaky, light pastry. But the undeniable cherry on top was the whisky dipping sauce it was served with. Highly recommended.
The smoked salmon was still absolutely delicious, though. Served with crème fraiche, tiny potato pancakes and pickled caper berries, the fish was incredibly fresh and full of flavour.
Other options included a sharing Camembert, Tempura King Prawns with a chorizo aioli and various seasonal specials that change often.
On to the main, I (after much deliberation) opted for the Lamb Rump. Seared and served pink with potatoes, seasonal veg and a rich jus, it was gorgeous. The lamb was cooked to perfection, juicy and tender. I honestly didn’t want it to end.
Dan went for the Steak and Ale. All of the elements of a pie, without the crust. Instead it was served in a skillet with Northumbrian cheddar cobble – like little mini scones! – champ, carrots and sprouting broccoli. Again, just delicious. And the right sized portion too. It was packed full of juicy meat and rich in flavour. All of the vegetables and the potato were cooked perfectly.
There was also a Local Fish Khao Sao Soup that I was so, so tempted by. In fact, I already want to go back to give it a go. The fish of the day whilst we were there was hake and it was served in a Thai infused coconut broth with Asian vegetables. Also available as a vegan option!
Fish and Chips, Roasted Chicken Breast and a Spinach and Wild Mushroom Gnocchi all featured too. It was a really difficult decision.
A sample menu can be found here, although as mentioned, the seasonal specials do change frequently.
As always, we took it a step too far and ordered a dessert. Albeit, it was to share but still entirely unnecessary. I didn’t regret a single bite of the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Gooey, indulgent and sickly sweet, exactly how it should be.
Again, the service throughout was second to none. James continued to look after us as did another waiter who came with even more treats for Jax and a little blanket so he didn’t have to lie on the floor. TOO CUTE.
The food was quick too. Despite it being a Thursday evening, the restaurants was still quite busy but plated were served with little time in between to wait.
After dinner, we ordered a bottle of wine to take up to the room. With a space so lush, we wanted to take full advantage of it. And I was absolutely desperate to climb into that bath.
A lovely little addition to the bath experience is the option of the Bath Butler. A range of package to enjoy with your bath. They’ll prepare various fragrances and bubbles to add to your bath and match to a drink. Each package has their own benefits, some help you sleep better, others energise you. There’s a romantic package for two that comes with a bottle of prosecco too! The Bath Butler packages varied between £20 and £35.
We didn’t take advantage this time round, but I loved the idea. As standard you do get some bubbles and a bath bomb in your room however – that’ll do for me!
Jax curled up in his bed, nice and comfy with the occasional wander over to the window to see if the sheep had come back out to play.
The Morning After
I woke up feeling totally refreshed. A relaxing soak in the tub, teamed with a couple of wines and a really comfortable night’s sleep. Then, I realised it was almost over and I would have to leave which made me really sad but at least I had breakfast to look forward to…
And the final piece of our weekend didn’t disappoint. The breakfast menu was unique and utterly mouthwatering. Again, a difficult decision for us both.
We were offered tea or coffee and were able to help ourselves to orange, pineapple and apple juice as well as a range of cereals.
Dan opted for the American Style Pancakes topped with dry cured bacon and maple syrup which were undoubtedly scrumptious but I won breakfast. I went for the ‘Hair of the Dog’.
I wasn’t in the slightest hungover but devilled scrambled eggs served with chorizo on brown bread and shot of Bloody Mary sounded far too good to miss.
I think standard scrambled eggs on toast is an underrated brekkie but this took it too another level. It had flavours reminiscent of Mexican food and the chunky chorizo was the star of the dish.
Luckily for Dan the portion was huge so he got to help me finish it at the end.
They also had the Farne Island, their take on a full English, Eggs Florentine, porridge and Northumberland kippers if that was to tickle your pickle.
A really strong breakfast menu which is just another of the many, many reasons that I have to go back…
Every element of our stay was thought through with care. It was the tiny touches and little surprises that truly makes this place so incredible.
There is literally no wonder that this dog-friendly hotel in Northumberland is the only 5* Gastro Pub and Inn in the region.
We’ve stayed in some amazing places, but this topped them all. A bold statement considering some of the wonderful places, like St Valery’s in Alnmouth, we’ve had the pleasure to stay but being able to indulge in such a lavish, luxurious hotel whilst having Jax by our side was amazing.
The Joiners Arms nail the practicalities of taking your beloved furbaby on a hotel break as well as ensuring you, as the owners, get to fully appreciate and enjoy your time away.
The offer that we enjoyed is still valid if I’ve done enough to sell it to you (if I haven’t, go away, you’re impossible). A midweek break for £75 per person includes an overnight stay, a two-course evening meal and breakfast.
Of course, you don’t need a dog to enjoy the loveliness of The Joiners Arms but I do recommend that you get one.
Do you have any other dog-friendly hotel recommendations? Have you stayed at The Joiners Arms?
Tell me everything in the comments!
Lot of love, LB x