You know that sinking feeling on holiday after realising you’ve selected the wrong balance? A hotel either too loud or too quiet, a location that’s too remote or too central? Hosts that are either invasive or unwelcoming and unpersonable? It’s hard to have it all when planning to get away.

Allow us to recommend a visit to The Cookie Jar with this in mind. Situated in leafy Alnwick and closer to Scotland’s central belt than a trip to the Highlands, a visit is to be reminded that finding the perfect trip with perfect balance doesn’t require traipsing across the globe, or even to the other end of the country. You can have quiet and culture a couple of hours from home. Here in the heart of Northumberland is an aesthetically pleasing and unique stay with a bustling town centre and serene, 11-bedroom luxury boutique hotel as your base. There are plenty of day trips close by, cities if you so desire, stunning architecture and character. Cobbled streets are at home in a medieval market town that’s dominated by the towering Alnwick Castle. 

The Cookie Jar is owned by Debbie Cook, with the property named after her husband Robert. The vision, upon opening a few years ago, was to offer modern hospitality in a historic venue and area. Debbie has created a boutique and stylish stay that’s still personable and comfortable. With blue interiors and a fine attention to detail appreciated throughout the stay we can guarantee that while you may have stayed in a hotel similar to The Cookie Jar, you won’t have found one quite like it. That is the venue’s unique selling point, you’re paying for a room and an experience. 

You see, until 2015, The Cookie Jar was actually a convent. The hotel has balanced out the new with the old to reflect the history of the building. There’s a music sheet here or there, well-worn from years of use and framed to honour the building’s legacy. Acknowledgement of the past without allowing it to dominate or become overbearing is always a delicate balance but achieved here. The strength of The Cookie Jar is that you feel simultaneously at home while taking in totally new surroundings.

Small details such as bottled milk for morning coffees, design that reflects the building’s history and a drawing room for pre-dinner drinks make the stay all the more pleasing. The hotel is true to its mission statement that, “We’re all about the comforts” - summed up by a fresh batch of cookies delivered to your room every day. We can all live with a few extra calories on holiday, can’t we? Matt Hulme, a renowned interior designer, was tasked with converting the building into a luxury retreat centre. Each room is individual which is a welcome break from the monotonous, plain design that can accompany so many stays and make one room a reflection of the other. It’s also part of the fun in choosing your stay with options ranging from cosy to luxury, mother superior to the crown jewel, the chapel. This is another aspect which adds to the one-in-a-kind nature of the stay.

Resident's loungeResident's lounge (Image: The Cookie Jar)

Alnwick is home to a few excellent restaurants, notably the two Indians Mumbai and Sherkans which are both owned by the same family. You’ve also got the type of traditional English pubs that signify you’ve crossed the border only a few minutes walk away. Fancy staying in? Even better because The Cookie Jar’s menu is difficult to top with locally sourced food and veg grown in the back garden. In a cosy dining room situated at the back of the building, there is little to disappoint. When you head down for breakfast try the custard croissant and thank us later. There’s even a spacious terrace and garden area for sunny days and warmer evenings should a seat outside be of preference. 

Northumberland isn’t short of a day trip or three. Alnwick itself is more than worth exploring from the castle to Alnwick Gardens and Barter Books - the second-largest second-hand bookshop in the world is a place to spend an afternoon lost in literature. Harry Potter inspiration is always a street or two away if that’s your thing. A short drive will take you to the famous Holy Island, Lindisfarne. The historic piece of tidal island is originally home to St Aidan’s monastery, destroyed during Viking invitations and later restored. Any visit must take time into consideration given the coming and going of the tide twice a day washes away the road but with a little help from hotel staff and the countless signs offering reminders at Lindisfarne itself, there’s no need for anxiety. Take a walk up to the castle, a seat in one of the many chapels or wander around St Aiden’s monastery itself to visit an area that is a must.

If you’re a walker then take your pick of local signs and scenery. The long and winding coastal path is one option, so too is a stroll alongside Hadrian’s Wall (presuming you don’t tackle the whole 84 miles). St Cuthbert’s way takes in forestry and a long list of stunning beaches 

The rise of staycations, catalysed by the Covid-19 pandemic, saw many Scots head north for their holidays to explore equally-deserving coasts and forestry in the Highlands. Northumberland is closer, far easier to get to and just as peaceful should that be the holiday remit. 

This correspondent's journey featured a blend of exploration and relaxation. As aforementioned the thought of escaping the city would always point north in the past but a visit to The Cookie Jar is to be shown the variety Northumberland also has on offer. There’s no need to spend hours on a winding A9. Here, you can be off the beaten track but close enough to access it. And trust us, if you’ve not visited the area yet you’ll want to.

The Cookie Jar The Cookie Jar (Image: The Cookie Jar)

The point? There is not much not to love and plenty to celebrate about The Cookie Jar. You could view this as a luxury base to explore Northumberland or, depending on the mood, somewhere to tuck away and forget about the outside world for a few days. The staff are extremely welcoming and friendly, ensuring every small detail is just right. You get the feeling that your stay really does matter, something the personal details connote and confirm. 

When spending to go away the very least you should have is guarantee. So take it from us, whether you want luxury or adventure, comfort or new experience, you can have it all in one at The Cookie Jar in Alnwick.

Travel info: Rooms start at £205 per night. For further information visit

Tel: 01665 510 465