My husband and I hopped on a train from Edinburgh heading south towards London, but first we decided to stop in Darlington - a quaint town in the English countryside. Our stop had one purpose: the Middleton Lodge, a Georgian country estate.
The estate was built in 1780 and is now privately owned by a family. There aren't many accommodations which makes for an intimate experience and allows guests to create a personal connection with the staff.
We arrived in the evening, so it was difficult to get a clear visual of the property. That said, we could see the snow begin to heavily fall while checking-in. We were led to our garden facing room which was gorgeous, and complete with heated floors. We knew we made the right decision in coming here.
That first night we took a short stroll to the restaurant. The main dining hall was fairly empty, and we were told the majority of the guests had to cancel their reservations due to the weather.
When the morning came, I opened the door and realized we were in a winter wonderland. I now know what it feels like to be in a snow globe!
Breakfast that day was continental and included granola, yogurt, cereal, pastries, fruit, juices, coffee, tea, and endless servings of toast. You can order menu items, but we were completely satisfied with what was included with our stay. In fact, we looked forward to the lighter breakfast, so we could enjoy a full lunch and dinner. The lunches were also a treat. Our favorites were the ham sandwich and the fish and chips. This was the only fish and chips we had in the U.K. and it definitely stood out as one of the better meals of the trip. The dinner menu never changed, but we made it a point to order different dishes each night. The only dish we ordered a second time was the scallops with chorizo. We couldn't seem to let go of that one as it was too delicious to pass up. Louie is the sommelier and also served us a few times during our stay. He was incredibly knowledgable, generous, and helped us with the wine pairings. After dinner we'd always head to the bar. The bartenders made delicious craft cocktails, including a boozy hot chocolate, which is the ultimate drink in 30-degree weather.
The grounds were picturesque. It was everything I imagined the English countryside to be. Unfortunately we weren't able to book any spa services or activities because those staff members weren't able to drive to the property in the severe weather conditions. However, it didn't put a damper on our trip. We were content lounging in the snug (a cozy seating area with a fire) and relaxing in our room. We occasionally took leisure walks around the estate and even made a snowman. Fortunately, the hotel had wellies to borrow as we didn't have the appropriate footwear for the snow.
We ended the trip fully relaxed and reluctantly prepared for our long journey back to San Diego.