Due to the pandemic, it’s been a long wait for the new INNSIDE by Meliã hotel to open its doors after completely transforming the former BT building on the banks of the Tyne.
But after many months of delays, the 161-bed hotel has finally been able to host its first guests as it brings its corporate and staycation offering to the North East making the most of a prime location in the shadow of the High Level Bridge.
Here’s what to expect:
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As Spain’s largest hotel group, Meliã Hotels International may be familiar to people from holidays abroad, but its INNSIDE Newcastle branch is very much rooted in North East culture. Local artists have played a key role in the hotel’s decor and each room, as well as communal areas, features a unique piece from the North East Art Collective, which will change regularly and are available to buy.
The hotel’s strong emphasis on art is most noticeable with a huge mural in its lobby, designed by North East artist James Dixon from Lines Behind whose fun creations often feature on greeting cards and prints which celebrate his home region.
From Ant and Dec and the Angel of the North to Newcastle Brown Ale and a Metro train, the design is an eye-catching ode to all things Newcastle and also features on the staff uniforms and merchandise available to buy at reception. Unlike other chains in this price bracket, this is very much a hotel with personality.
Room rates are reasonable, starting from £69 a night and you choose from a standard double room, a twin room, a river view room, balcony room, studio room, studio balcony room or a townhouse room. The latter, which occupy the corner space on each storey offer floor to ceiling panoramas of the Quayside and are a perfect place to sit back and people watch the hustle and bustle below.
Even in the smaller rooms, however, huge windows come as standard so you can take in the great location. Each room also features a smart TV, air con, tea and coffee-making facilities, and a sleek and stylish grey and white colour palette. There’s even a yoga mat in each room if you feel like limbering up.
Special mention to the robes, which are like a giant hoody I didn’t want to take off, and the slippers which, true to form with this hotel, are quirkier than the norm with an embroidery design of a foot, including toe hairs.
Covid measures are also in place with hand sanitiser throughout the hotel, as well as disinfected, packaged remote controls and tea-making packets.
Catering for hotel residents as well as non-residents, INNSIDE has teamed up with much-loved chef Gino D’Acampo for its restaurant – the first of his chain to open in the North East.
He’s one of the biggest culinary characters on TV and his personality flows through the restaurant, from its azure blue colour scheme reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea, to the pictures on the wall of the man himself rubbing shoulders with celebrities such as Simon Cowell, to the menu which, as you would expect, is a celebration of Italy’s lip-smacking flavours.
You can tuck into a taste of the Old Country from breakfast through to dinner, or just for drinks, and with travel limited this year, there’s plenty on the menu to give you a taste of Italy without leaving the North East.
Expect dishes such as swordfish, lamb cutlets, veal, meatballs, antipasti, sharing platters and, of course, a good range of pizzas, salads, pastas and risottos. Prices are fair with starters priced from £6.95 for bruschetta through to £11.95 for carpaccio. Pizzas are priced from £11.25, other mains from £12.95 and speciality grills from £16.95.
I chose an Italian classic to start: burrata with fresh tomato and chilli salsa (£9.75). I’m not always a fan of chain restaurants, but this was one of the best versions of this starter I’ve had. The huge round of cheese was moreishly creamy, with plenty of plump tomatoes, while the salsa had a real kick and added another depth of flavour to what is often a very simple dish.
For mains I had the lobster linguine, which at £27.95, is one of the pricier mains – but very much worth it. The portion was huge and they didn’t skimp on the meaty lobster, as is often the case. There was oodles of springy linguine to get through and, again, the sauce was a medley of flavours – a punchy blend of white wine, garlic, chilli and parsley which really impressed. Bambinos are also well catered for with a bigger kids menu than most.
We ate indoors, a real treat post-Lockdown, but on sunnier days you can really enjoy continental-style dining by eating al fresco on the large terrace which offers uninterrupted views of the Tyne as it meanders under its many bridges.
This is very much a hotel geared towards entertaining non-guests, as much as guests, and the modern lobby, complete with its dozens of sphere lights, huge windows and velvet chairs, is a great place for a drink, serving food and drinks throughout the day, while local DJs take to the site’s decks to provide the soundtrack to your visit. There’s also a lobby menu for nibbles and aperitifs.
As you’d expect from any Italian restaurant worth its salt, there’s a good selection of wines including one of the biggest selections of Prosecco, sparkling wine and Franciacorta in the country, with over 30 varieties on offer.
As well as the staycation market, the hotel is designed with corporate guests in mind. There’s a variety of meeting rooms to book including a particularly fun room with games and technology to help get people’s creative juices flowing, such as walls which can be written on and interactive table top games.
Large rooms can also be booked for weddings and other functions. There’s also gym facilities on site, which are included in the room rate.
Parking is limited and is available on a first come, first served basis, but there are many car parks, such as Dean Street, which are a short walk away.
Check in is 3pm and there’s the bonus of a check out of 12pm, later than most hotels of this ilk.
How to book
Win an overnight stay and meal for two
We’ve teamed up with INNSIDE Newcastle to give one reader the chance to win a one-night stay (bed and breakfast) for them and a guest, as well as a three-course meal for two at the restaurant, with a bottle of wine.
To be in with a chance of winning the prize answer this question: Which celebrity chef has opened a restaurant within INNSIDE Newcastle?
A:: Gino D’Acampo
B:: Marco Pierre White
C: James Martin
Email your answer, along with your name and address, to [email protected] Closing date: Monday, June 28.
Terms and Conditions:
::The prize is a one overnight stay for two guests at INNSiDE Newcastle with fully inclusive breakfast, and a dinner for two guests (3-course meal each and
a bottle of wine to share) at Gino D’Acampo Quayside.
::The prize is non-exchangeable, non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered.
::The prize is subject to availability and blackout dates apply.
::The prize is valid to stay before September 1, 2021
::The prize must be claimed by the prize winner only. ID may be required.
::As part of Meliã Hotels International, INNSiDE Newcastle will operate the global ‘Stay Safe with Meliã’ programme across the hotel, including measures
to prioritise guest and staff safety during COVID-19.