TRAVEL + MEAL REVIEW: South Causey Inn, Stanley, County Durham

The converted 1960s bus at South Causey Inn

The converted 1960s bus at South Causey Inn

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Quirky hotel rooms are like buses.

You get used to sleeping in beige rooms, waiting for one to jump out at you. Then all the quirkiness comes at once.

Scallops at South Causey Inn

Scallops at South Causey Inn

South Causey Inn doesn’t just have three unusual rooms, though, it’s got a range of out-of-the-ordinary suites, from a Captain Cook-themed cottage complete with ship’s wheel, anchor and even a bronze diver’s helmet, to a tree house suite complete with shed bed.

This independent hotel has let its imagination run wild, which stamps it firmly on the destination venue map.

For our stay we went on the buses, literally. We stayed the night in a renovated original 1960s double decker London bus.

We felt like we were in a scene from Summer Holiday as we boarded this unique hotel room, which features a space age-esque silver and black bathroom complete with roll top bath on the ground floor and a velvet-lined bedroom and lounge area on the top floor.

Fajitas

Fajitas

Though it’s a cleverly-executed conversion, it’s still retained its original bus features: you have to watch your footing over the wheel humps and washing your hands at the sink gives you the chance to peer into the driver’s cab.

As such, it’s not suitable for people with mobility issues and my friend, who’s a lofty 6ft2in, had to stoop on the top deck. For once, I felt smug at being vertically-challenged. Still, at least she had a hot tub in the bus’ private terrace to ease the crick in her neck.

The bus doesn’t move, of course, the only place we were headed to on our stay was the South Causey Inn bar and restaurant.

The creativity continues at this venue, which was built around a former farmhouse, and some animals remain including alpacas, donkeys and wandering chickens. Inside there’s plenty of talking points with the decor and its rural paraphernalia, from horse tack to tankards.

The bathroom in the converted bus.

The bathroom in the converted bus.

It’s got the country pub friendly atmosphere to match. Though it’s actually only a stone’s throw from a housing estate, its informal ambience and lush greenery makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

There’s no airs and graces about the menu: it’s all proper hearty pub grub such as nachos, steak and kidney suet pudding, fish pie and mince and dumplings with a few more unusual pub additions thrown into the mix too.

It’s a vast menu with plenty to offer the non-residents who are lured to this corner of County Durham just for the food.

I chose the seared king scallops to start, which is one of the pricier options at £7.95. It was served on one of those slate tiles – the Marmite of serving dishes – and was a good size of four plump scallops with artful blobs of parsnip purée, chilli lime pickle and a dusting of lemon crumb.

Hot tub on the private terrace

Hot tub on the private terrace

For mains I went with an oldie, but a goodie: chicken fajitas (£12.95).

It did what it said on the tin and was just what you want from this dish: a satisfying mound of sizzling vegetables and chicken strips which you can stuff into wraps to your heart’s content.

Hats off to the drinks menu too and its Pimp My gin choice (£5.95). Per drink, it features two large goblets, four different gins including Rip Gin distilled on site using the botanicals grown in the garden, masses of ice and a range of fruits to mix in them.

If you’re looking for a venue that takes a fun approach to wining and dining: South Causey Inn and its big red bus is just the ticket.

The top deck bedroom

The top deck bedroom