It may be a stone’s throw from the bustle of the A19, but a stay at Seaton Lane Inn left us feeling like we’d had a restful break in the countryside.
The pub with rooms is a popular landmark in the village of Seaton, East Durham, so it was a big miss when it closed its doors earlier this year for a major renovation.
But four months of missed trade has certainly paid off. The complete makeover has resulted in a striking new look at the bar, as well as in its charming 18 en-suite rooms. Most notable is the creation of an orangery in the former beer garden. The theme, which flows throughout the pub, is bringing the outdoors in, with bright leaf print wallpaper, a feature foliage wall, giant flower motifs and chintzy yet chic lightshades that laugh in the face of minimalist industrial trends.
It’s a bold look for a quaint village pub, but it’s one that works well and helps to make this a destination site for more than just locals – with plenty of free parking for people from up the A19.
You can judge a good pub by its grub and beers and those with a hearty appetite for both are well catered for here.
Staff take pride in their pints and were knowledgeable in helping us choose from their range of local real ales and guest hand pulls which change regularly. To match the new look, there’s also a good range of botanical-inspired gins to wet your whistle. Plus, prices are fair, at just £2.75 for a small glass of white wine.
We were seated in the orangery next to the babbling water feature, which adds to the room’s quirky charm, and got stuck into the menu, which is available daily from 8am to 9pm.
There’s something to suit most palates, with a selection of pub classics, such as steak and real ale pie, curries, steaks, home-made pizzas, more unusual vegetarian options than most, such as Northumberland nettle, potato and spring onion pie (£8.95), and colourful salad options, such as pulled jerk chicken with red onion and yoghurt (£8.95). After some lunch? There’s even a whole section devoted to the much-underrated stottie.
To start, I chose the prawn and bloody Mary sundae (£6.45), which was served in a huge glass goblet filled with this most classic of starters, which comes with accompanying bread and butter. It’s a hard one to get wrong and this version was done well and was a good-size portion to boot.
For mains I went with one of the lighter options of traditional Greek souvlaki (£8.95) and swerved the chips for extra salad, a request which the staff were more than happy to accommodate.
The skewered chicken was satisfyingly tender and was served on a springy bed of fresh salad, tzatziki and pitta bread. It also comes with a pot of jalapeños for those who want to spice up the dish.
There’s not much else around the inn itself, but with such a good vibe, we were more than happy to spend the night at this blooming great addition to East Durham.