The Tempus at Charlton Hall Honest Review

 This is based on a stay in August 2023 - Please check with the venue direct for the most up-to-date info. 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review

We booked a one night stay for 2 at The Tempus at Charlton Hall in August 2023. I was keen to visit as it looked gorgeous and I managed to get a bargain rate of £169 for a stay for 2 in a room with a hot tub including breakfast or £249 to include a £90 dinner allowance (which is the option we went for). 

I will start this review by saying that the Tempus market themselves as being luxury accommodation so I did go in with high expectations. I also know that I am picky. We did experience issues during our stay but these weren't enough to put me off staying again.

I wouldn't hesitate to stay again if I could find a similarly discounted rate however next time, I'd book a room without a hot tub and I'd just book a B&B rate and pay for dinner separately. 

Friday 6 October Update: The hotel has responded privately to this post and invited us back to check out their improvements. I appreciate their response however will be declining this opportunity. We may stay again but if we do, it will be something we book ourselves.

Lookout Cottage 

We booked Lookout Cottage which is in the hotel grounds (just across the car park from reception/the bar/restaurant). It sleeps up to 4 guests (2 in the mezzanine bedroom and 2 on the sofa bed) and is dog friendly. It has it's own private courtyard with a hot tub and you aren't overlooked. 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review - Lookout Cottage Bedroom

Our room was gorgeous and we loved staying here. There was a comfortable bedroom upstairs and mood lighting throughout. 

Downstairs there is a living room with comfy sofas and a TV. 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review  - Lookout Cottage Living Area

Plus a little utility area in the hall and although there isn't a full kitchen, there is a mini fridge, kettle, coffee machine, welcome basket and plenty of storage space. 

The bathroom is downstairs and is complete with underfloor heating, luxury toiletries, fluffy towels and a bath tub. 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review  - Lookout Cottage Bathroom

The cottage was finished to a very high standard and spotlessly clean. We were really impressed with it and felt as if we had loads of space to relax. 

Lookout Cottage Hot Tub 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review - Hot Tub

The only aspect where we were let down was the hot tub. I've stayed at loads of places with hot tubs before and this is the only time one has given me the ick. 

It really feels as if they just plonked a hot tub in the garden and haven't given any thought to maintenance. The hot tub had been there for at least a month and I do kind of wonder if it had been emptied at all during that duration? 

First of all, there were no user manuals or safety signs which is a first for me. I thought these would be compulsory. 

Second of all, the hot tub had clearly not been emptied and cleaned before we stayed. It was up to full temperature when we checked in. Usually, on check in day, they do warn you that the hot tub won't be up to temp as it takes a while to get here from being refilled. This wasn't the case here.

I know someone stayed in our room the night before us as the cleaners were actually still in there when we arrived (we walked in on them). 

There are rules you have to follow if you let out a property with a hot tub and these include regular water quality tests. Now everywhere else I have stayed, someone has been around twice a day to take a water sample and test it. I've always found this a bit annoying but now, I actually find it reassuring! Our water wasn't tested at all across our whole stay. 

Finally, the base of the hot tub was filled with sand, when we turned it on, it filled with a kind of soapy skummy bubbles (which was more than just the cleaning detergent they might have used) and the sides felt coated in something. 

It was all a bit grim! I wouldn't book a cottage with a hot tub here again as I'm not convinced the correct cleanliness and hygiene procedures are being followed. 

The Tempus Bar 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review  - Bar Area

The Tempus bar is loosely based around Alice and Wonderland and it's gorgeous! What a beautiful spot for pre-dinner drinks. 

There is a nice wine list, beers, mocktails and soft drinks on offer as well as themed cocktails. 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review  - Wine List

We ordered 'Shrink Me Potion' which is Jameson-Disaranno-Butterscotch-Orgeat-Cream. 

Plus 'Pool of Tears' which is Hendricks-Basil-Cucumer-Lemon-Sugar Syrup. 

Both excellent! It's a stylish cocktail bar both in terms of decor and drink quality. We loved it. 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review - Cocktails

Dinner at The Tempus 

The Alice in Wonderland theme continues into the restaurant with subtle hints like checkerboard flooring and seating. 

I know like many places, The Tempus has had staffing issues and we could feel this on the night. I think it was a few of our servers' first night as they were extremely nervous to the point where they were physically shaking. I felt bad for them. Hopefully just first service nerves. 

We wanted to order a few different starters to share with a bottle of wine to begin with but some 0of the dishes we ordered were sadly not available so we settled on arancini bites and crispy squid. Both really good and no complaints. 

Onto our mains and I had risotto with spring pea, confit tomato and ricotta. It was so delicious and one of the best risottos I've ever had. It really tasted like summer in a bowl and was super satisfying. 

Steve ordered the halibut linguine with lobster bisque which he said was very flavoursome and really enjoyed. 

We were too full for desserts but if we'd realised we had some £ left from our dinner allowance, I probably would have forced one in. 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review  - evening meal

Our meals were excellent and I will dine here again at some point. Their sunday lunch looks great. There were some kids in the restaurant and it was nice to see some of the staff interact with them and make them feel very welcome. 

Service for us was just ok - I felt like staff could have seated us on a better table. We felt as if we were on a table of 4 with another couple and the couple next to us could hear our full conversation / were clearly listening in and vice versa. Now I love a good gossip over dinner and felt like I couldn't do this. Some of their tables do definitely need to be more spaced out. 

The staff were also really nervous and there was a nervous energy about the place. Sometimes when we asked a simple question, staff would just disappear supposedly to find the answer but then never return.

Plus when I asked them about the dinner inclusive deal, they didn't know anything about it and said that we'd have to sort it out with reception the following morning. Everyone was so lovely but it didn't feel like their training had been completed and almost like we were dining in a college restaurant with trainees.

I know staff have to learn though and the best way to do this is on the job so I can't really complain too much (although taking this into account, I don't think we should have been charged for service). 

Just to point out, dogs are welcome in the orangery before 7pm. 

You can check current menus here:

Breakfast at The Tempus 

Breakfast at The Tempus was absolutely stunning and one of the best hotel breakfasts I've ever had. First of all, your table is filled with pink Le Cruset condiments which look beautiful and you're brought a matching pot of coffee / tea to your table. 

You can help yourself to fresh juices, pastries, fruit, yoghurt and cereal which were all of excellent quality and then order cooked items from the menu. 

Our breakfasts were beautifully presented, used local ingredients and tasted fantastic. A real highlight from our stay. 

The Tempus at Charlton Hall Review - Breakfast

After breakfast we had a little stroll around the courtyard and gardens which are beautiful. What a way to start the day. 

Customer Service & Overcharging Issues 

  • Our rate included a dinner allowance of £90.

    There are no t&cs attached to this and I just assumed it would be a straight £90 off our dinner bill as that's what has happened at other hotels in the past.

    This was not the case and there was lots of confusion starting with the fact that the restaurant staff didn't know about our dinner inclusive rate / couldn't figure out what to do so just said we had to sort it at reception in the morning. 

    Then at reception the following morning, they charged us for dinner, I had to explain we were on a dinner inclusive rate so after a few checks, they took some money off.

    They didn't provide an itemised bill and it wasn't until I got home that I realised they had only taken £45 from our bill. I emailed them and they disagreed at first but then after I asked for an itemised bill to be sent over and typed out and added up everything we ordered in another email, they agreed and refunded us a little more of our dinner bill. 

    Finally, we actually only spent £55 on food - the rest of our £110 dinner bill was on drinks and they said drinks weren't included. It doesn't state this anywhere in the t&cs and does feel like a rip off as I had actually paid the full £90 in advance and expected this amount to just come off our dinner bill.

    I do accept I should have questioned things more but the staff I did ask didn't know what was going on either. I won't be booking DBB anywhere again - this experience put me off and I left feeling like I did not receive good value.

  • A service charge was automatically added to our bill which we didn't know about. I don't mind paying for good service but we didn't receive good service and I do think they should have shown us the charge on an itemised bill rather than just automatically adding it onto our card payment on checkout without our knowledge. 

  • Customer service was not up to the luxury standard I'd expected. For example when I was checking out, I stood there for ages as one receptionist was scrolling her facebook page on her phone and just ignored me.

    There was no apology for the overcharging incident.

    Contracters just walked into our room in the early evening without knocking.

    Bar staff were bitching about their colleagues in full ear of everyone.

    It just wasn't a 5* experience and we felt like an inconvenience rather than a guest.

  • Finally, I did share some of my concerns directly with The Tempus and received no reply except from one of the owners sending me sad face emojis on Instagram which I thought was weird, didn't actually resolve/try to resolve anything and was not exactly professional. 

I know this review does have some negative aspects but I've left it a few months before sharing as I wanted to make sure I wasn't just sharing my annoyance in the moment. I also know I can be a bit of a whinge and maybe some of these issues wouldn't bother some people. 

For me, when I'm staying somewhere that is marketing itself as luxurious, I do expect the best. 

The issues are not the end of the world though and hopefully, were just a one off. Like I said in the intro, I wouldn't let these problems put me off staying again if I could get another bargain.

It's a gorgeous place in an excellent location for exploring Northumberland. The positives do outweigh the negatives for me. 

I would however recommend to anyone staying that they don't book a DBB rate and stick with a BB rate and just pay for dinner on the night. I'd also recommend everyone triple checks their bill and asks for itemised bills for everything. Finally, don't book a room with a hot tub. 

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1 comment

  1. Eek! Whilst the environment looks absolutely lovely, I would be very concerned about bathing in someone else's hottub water. I think you have been extremely fair with your review and hopefully the hotel will take the time to learn from the points you have raised.


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