Slaley Hall Stay & Play Review
Slaley Hall is a large hotel, spa and golf resort that is based in Northumberland, roughly eight miles away from Hexham and a 30-minute drive from local city, Sunderland.
After traversing through A-roads for approximately 40 minutes, you’ll see the large and alluring sign of Slaley Hall, but the true magic lies behind the initial entrance.
Once you have taken the turning and creep around the corner, the large complex meets your eyes with an expansive car park that was near capacity by the time I arrived at 9:30 am on a Tuesday morning.
Slaley were expecting an influx of visitors for that week as the PGA EuroPro Tour were preparing for their end of season Tour Championship event that was going to take place on one of the two impressive courses that the complex boasts: The Hunting Course.
The Hunting Course
Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook has reviewed the Hunting Course in great detail in his Feature Review.
He concluded: "Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this course. It’s a great venue offering excellent golf in some stunning surroundings. It definitely shouldn’t be overlooked if you are considering taking a golf break to this part of the country and can definitely see why it's classed as 'The Augusta of the North'."
The Priestman Course
Having the honour of playing such an enticing course whilst professionals battled it out on the alternative layout was not something that I took lightly.
I was fortunate to secure an early tee time - 8:15 am - and that allowed me to get on the course while it was still fairly quiet, which only added to the phenomenal experience.
Considering I had an early tee time, I was up and raring to go almost immediately from awaking, which sadly meant I had to wait around for another hour or so!
As I was staying on-site at Slaley Hall, I was fully aware of the Priestman and what sort of challenge was awaiting me.
I had spoken to several members of staff who had informed me that it was unlike the week’s showcase in the Hunting Course but the beauty and challenge remained vigilantly - which was an accurate depiction.
I made my way to the first tee with roughly 20 minutes to spare and headed to the chipping green - that lied adjacent to the opening tee box - to give myself a few moments to gather the speed of the greens.
Considering there was an important tournament taking place simultaneously, I felt quite special as a drone was above the practice green and supposedly capturing footage of my - very poor - putting.
The driving range is nestled slightly behind the chipping green and there were dedicated staff situated there to take care of anyone’s range needs - both were extremely friendly and exhibited a sense of humour.
I had not played golf for quite some time, maybe four-to-six weeks, which resulted in me being understandably nervous as I traversed to the first tee.
Front 9 Overview
The opening hole is gentle and with a relatively wide fairway to locate, you should start your round with renewed confidence after - hopefully - finding the fairway on offer.
You’ll be hitting your approach into a green that isn’t overly protected and thus, should be looking at a putt for birdie if your first two shots were well struck.
The second hole amps up the difficulty significantly as a draw would be the preferred shot off the tee, as you look for pinpoint placement as the hole bends to the right.
From the fairway - and providing you have a clear shot at the green - a simple approach to another generous green will be required as you should walk away from the opening two holes with a beaming smile splattered across your face.
The 4th is arguably the signature hole of the front nine as the 510-yard, downhill par-5 will undoubtedly offer the perfect opportunity for an eagle.
You’ll be driving significantly downwards and placement should be a non-issue as the wide fairway should be sufficient for a landing zone.
You’ll then be hitting a long/mid-iron into the green and, obviously dependent on pin location, you should be looking at a putt for eagle as while this hole does not exhibit major signs of difficulty, it is the design and the beauty that steals hearts.
The 7th is a slight dogleg-right and position off the tee is mandatory if you are looking to escape this hole with a par.
The fairway is far from generous and anything too right will likely end up in the lake that is awaiting to gobble any poorly struck shots.
From the fairway, however, and this hole becomes a lot easier, you’ll be hitting some sort of wedge into a green that has a few bunkers scattered across without causing too much distress.
The 9th hole is, in my opinion, a contender for signature hole on the opening nine as the 379-yard par-5 has a wide fairway with a treacherous green awaiting approach shots.
As I played this hole, the sun was blaring right into my eyes which made spotting my approach shot tricky but having escaped with a bogey, I was content and in complete awe that I was challenging myself against a course of this status.
Back 9 Overview
The third and penultimate par-5 welcomes you into the back nine and at 532 yards, it is no easy task if you are looking to find the green in two.
The hole is fairly open but water around 30 yards short of the green ensures that you’ll need to commit to whatever shot you decide to hit - whether that be to go for the green or to lay up in the landing area just past the small hazard.
You’ll then walk for roughly two minutes as you cross a road and head to the par-3 11th, a short hole that should produce pars as an absolute maximum - perhaps the easiest on the course, but it does have a SI standing of 17.
From here, a collection of similar par 4s follow: 401-yard, 398-yard and a 388-yard hole that all require good tee shots but even better approach attempts.
The final hole of this short loop, before heading back across the road and to the main field that the majority of the golf course sits on, is a challenging 162-yard par-3 that plays slightly uphill.
Finding the green should not pose too much trouble but there is a bunker towards the front of the green that should actively be avoided at all costs.
Heading back across the road and the 16th and final par-5 hole awaits you, measuring at only 473 yards but this hole is worthy of its SI1 status.
Realistically, due to the bends and curvature and regardless of the supposed short distance, finding the green in two here is unlikely - obviously dependent on ability to some respect.
A drive will be needed to find the fairway but the longer hitters may be able to negotiate past the minor water hazard that splits the two fairways.
From there, a blind shot into the green will be needed but the sensible approach, which I took and so did the group in front of me, is to lay up and look to hit a solid third shot into the green.
The 17th hole arguably provides the most picturesque setting from the tee box, as the hole is presented wonderfully, with a slight bend to the right.
The final hole, measuring at 414 yards, is a tricky finisher as finding the fairway should be relatively easy but it is the second shot that will demand precision.
Hitting to a small-ish, two-tiered green, dependent on flag location, this hole holds the potential of ruining any card.
Nevertheless, a fine finish for a wonderfully designed course that we can thank David Williams for his innovative vision.
If I have only one piece of advice to share, above anything related to the course, is to play this wonderful layout just as the sun is beginning to rise.
It was beyond the optimal time as the course was fairly quiet but the cold, brisk air and the unrelenting sun supplemented this finely tuned golf course.
The conditions of the course was nothing short of mesmerising and away from three holes of being stuck behind a 4-ball, the general decorum of those who frequented this course was excellent and welcoming.
While this layout was evidently not tuned as difficult as the Hunting, where 60 professionals were vying off against one another, the challenge still remained.
There were moments where I knew I could attack pins and there alternative phases where I knew it would be unwise to go flag hunting.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest mornings I have ever had! The Priestman Course was an absolute delight to experience and I know I’ll be taking family with me to revisit and enjoy within the sphere of a group.
I could not identify a singular poorly designed hole and the par-5 4th is one of the most attractive holes I think I have had the honour to play.
The maintenance of the course was evident and it is overwhelmingly clear how much of an importance they place on golf at Slaley Hall.
The blend of difficulty, beauty and the requirement of using your brain is what makes the Priestman Course one of, if not the, best course that I have ever played.
Slaley Hall Hotel
The hotel at Slaley Hall is the ultimate escape, blending contemporary style with the charm of an older design.
The courtyard is classy and provides an enticing entrance into the reception, which is presented to the highest standard.
As you traverse the corridors, narrow in design but tall in stature, you’ll pass the restaurant and bar area before you arrive at the rooms and suites.
All the bedrooms are elegant and many offer unrivalled views of the Hunting Course that sits adjacent to the hotel’s premises.
My room, in particular, had an otherworldly view of the 18th green on the Hunting and I could also peak over to the putting green, which provided the perfect reminder as to when certain players would be starting their rounds.
The double-bed was extra large and super comfortable, while the shower was modern, the water pressure was good and there was no faffing around with the correct temperature.
The rooms, in general, are of a healthy size and with two wardrobes - that come equipped with a hairdryer and plentiful tea/coffee accessories - you seldom need to leave the room in the morning to start your day in the correct fashion.
Additionally, each room is furnished with a large TV that comes with basic channels, utilising a Freeview box that will allow you to access the main, unsubscribed channels.
Heading back to the bar and the expansive area could accommodate more than 80 guests while there was plenty of beverages stocked in both the fridges and the taps.
While the food menu - away from the restaurant which is somewhere I did not attend - is fairly basic, the quality of the food would provide a juxtaposition to the limited choice on the daily menu.
Pizzas, pies, sandwiches, burgers, light snacks and heavier meals are all available to order either at the bar area or the Claret Jug, which operates as a clubhouse to the two outstanding golf courses.
Ordering food is simple and the turn around for cooked food was excellent, as I was never waiting for a noticeable amount of time for my food to be served.
Due to vigorous renovation works that were taking place during my stay, it posed difficulty gaining access to the spa which resulted in me not attending at all.
Due to this, I cannot provide my own experience on the spa but having spoke to the director and perused the site’s website, I am aware of the treatments that are offered by Slaley Hall.
There are nine treatment rooms - which includes their Luxe Dual suite - and finishing touches are currently taking place to further enhance what is already clearly a comprehensible facility.
Recently, the spa has partnered with ELEMIS, who are one of the UK’s most luxurious and in-demand skin and body care brands.
You’ll be able to trial any of their products when you visit during a spa day, break or a treatment.
All Out Adventures
Situated at the entrance of the Slaley Hall premises is All Out Adventures, an activity centre that families or groups can pay to partake in exhilarating pursuits.
They offer kids quad biking, segway safari, archery, family quad trek, power turns, clay pigeon shooting, axe and knife throwing, crackshot and adult quad biking.
All of the activities noted will require separate booking and none of them come included with the stay at Slaley Hall but they offer something vastly different from what was expected prior to the visit.
Slaley Hall Gardens
Accompanying the golf course is a splendid array of natural beauty, that not only homes lots of vibrant wildlife but also provides the perfect environment for a walk through the vast woodland.
Located next to the first tee of the Hunting Course is a map of the area, which details approximately five different walks that visitors can take, weaving through the golf courses.
Alongside the route is a rough guide to how long the walk would take at several different paces.
It’s the little things like this that make Slaley Hall such a welcoming site to visit.
Slaley Hall is situated out of the way and deep into the countryside, which makes logical sense considering they boast two exceptional golf courses.
However, away from the events and features that make this hotel so alluring, is the friendliness of the staff.
I can recall a positive experience I had with someone working in the Claret Jug (clubhouse), a maid who was attending rooms, someone working in the bar and the excellent and incredibly helpful director of golf who really made me feel welcome and helped ease any concerns or queries that I had.
If you are an avid golfer who seeks the rush of championship quality golf courses, then both the Priestman and the Hunting courses will provide that in abundance for you.
If you’re looking for high-quality rooms with an emphasis on comfort and privacy, then the rooms at Slaley Hall will provide exactly that for you.
If you’re looking for fine wine and wonderful food, then the bar, restaurant and the Claret Jug can provide that sort of fine dining experience.
Perhaps you are an adventurous soul who prefers to do their living outdoors? If that’s the case, then the All Out Adventures facility will keep you occupied from the moment the sun rises until it departs.
The spa has an array of treatments and considering the passion that the staff put into every other aspect of this immaculate resort, I should imagine those who are employed by the spa would mirror that pride for their work.
Finally, if you do have a dog then Slaley Hall is welcoming of pets and the elongated walks that are detailed and explained around the premises will provide your dog with the perfect environment to tire themselves out in.
Slaley Hall Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort is a wonderfully inclusive and welcoming facility that will undoubtedly entice your desire to return time and time again.
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|Slaley Hall Golf Club
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