The pull of London is intense for those visiting the UK. With the capital offering a massive array of attractions; to experience the countryside a little more fully can sometimes be challenging, especially when searching for a luxury country hotel. Lying just beneath the surface however are many incredible places to stay, all offering a chance to explore areas of the countryside away from the hussle-bussle of busy urban sprawl. See our Top 10 places to stay in the Yorkshire countryside. and imposing dams
The Pheasant, Harome
A converted blacksmith’s, village shop and barn combined, The Pheasant, found overlooking the duck pond in Harome, gives a postcard-perfect first impression to arriving guests that is difficult to forget. ‘Home from home’ is the theme here, with 16 rooms to be found, all located around an attractive tree filled courtyard, with many featuring four poster beds. An emphasis is placed on The Pheasant being a location for everyone, and of the hotel going out of its way to provide a friendly and welcoming service. Rooms contain classic countryside styles and designs, and while not overly showy, give a feeling of taste and sophistication. The welcoming and traditional feeling is encouraged by a relaxing lounge area, often featuring an open wood fire, and allowing guests the opportunity to spend some time thinking and reflecting about the building’s former uses and past occupants.
Food at The Pheasant is a highlight, and comes courtesy of Chef Peter Neville and his restaurant, which received the Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Award for ‘Best Restaurant 2017’. Seasonal and local dishes are the speciality here, with breakfast being a particular highlight.
An indoor heated swimming pool adds a touch of modern luxury, and provides a perfect way to soothe aching muscles that may be encountered as a result of partaking in walks in the North Yorkshire Moors, the National Park The Pheasant is located next to. thepheasanthotel.com
The Black Swan, Oldstead
Making warm and informal hospitality the focus of this family-run establishment has resulted in great success, with the Black Swan now being widely recognised for its many attributes. Describing itself as a ‘restaurant with rooms’, it’s storied past gives it a true sense of identity and character. When The Black Swan pub faced the prospect of closure in 2006, the local Banks family, farmers in the area for many generations, decided to step in and rescue its future, giving it a unique edge.
As one might expect, The Black Swan favours a very traditional style, with flagged floors, bay windows, candles and fires featuring prominently alongside stylish wooden furniture, made by the Banks family themselves. Nine rooms are contained within the pub itself, while five are located within a beautiful Georgian era house nearby, Antique furnishings, fire places and exposed wood lead the style, with fantastic bathtubs being the focus of many rooms.
As Tommy Banks became Britain’s youngest Michelin starred Chef in 2013, food has been placed at the heart of The Black Swan, with Great British Menu awards coming in 2016 and 2017 as well as 4 AA Rosettes. The menu concentrates on vegetables and meat grown and reared on the land nearby, with a range of food that leans towards the experimental, whilst maintaining the highest standards of appearance and style. The awards haven’t come for nothing, and indeed, the food offerings alone make a visit essential.
Due to it being a family business, The Black Swan also offers many unique touches in an attempt to make guests feel they are part of an experience. Personal tours of the gardens are possible, and the family welcome questions about their life and work. www.blackswanoldstead.co.uk
Simonstone Hall, Hawes
Those wishing to tease themselves with a glimpse into an English past of countryside opulence, luxury and charm need look no further than the manor house that is Simonstone Hall. Formerly home to Lord and Lady Wharncliffe, this eight bedroom retreat stands at the foot of Stags Fell and truly offers some of the best views in the entirety of Yorkshire.
As expected, the countryside feeling dominates Simonstone Hall, and is made the most of. Terraced gardens, ancient windows and wood are everywhere, but attentive and respectful retouching has ensured that the past has been respectfully maintained.
The opportunity for extensive walking is one which is perhaps the focal point of the hotel, with guides to the many different routes freely available, and knowledgeable staff happy to assist in this area. While it would seem somewhat of a shame not to take advantage of the chance to ramble and hike, shooting expeditions and an incredibly welcoming bar offer good excuses to stay within the confines of Simonstone Hall.
Bedroom furnishings are again, in keeping with the Manor House feel. Large and wooden items rule, while the lack of many modern touches doesn’t feel like a loss, as their presence would detract firmly from the style and historical mood being set.
Food is largely traditional, and served in a beautiful Drawing Room that features remarkable views across the Dales and the Pennine Range. Afternoon Teas on the terrace are very special, and are a recommended experience. simonstonehall.com
Tickton Grange, Tickton
Situated close to the Yorkshire country town of Beverley, and within easy reach of Hull, Tickton Grange is a Georgian country house that stays true to its roots, whilst bringing things right up to date.
It’s 4 acres of well-kept and presented grounds prove a fantastic opportunity for those wishing to explore a little, and while wandering it’s difficult not to spend a moment imagining previous occupants of the house, and how they too may have enjoyed much the same thing. Paddocks, old farm buildings, and bee hives all bring much to the experience.
The centrepiece of Tickton Grange however, and perhaps its most striking feature is it’s Library, now used as a bar, but still loaded with books on a variety of topics, as well as a roaring fire and a grand piano. Bedrooms are all individually designed, and hence unique, but maintain a classic style, while offering substantial nods to the modern in the form of coffee machines, and up to date bathroom facilities. Of particular interest are ‘The Granary Rooms’, a suite which contains four rooms around a private garden, and can be booked out individually or altogether, effectively creating an exclusive hideaway. A small restaurant concentrates on traditional British dishes, done well, with a lot of attention paid to vegetarian dishes, alongside the wide selection of locally sourced meat options. An interesting option for dining is to take advantage of the Georgian Bradley Room, a private dining area that can be booked out by groups or individuals who are looking for something a little more personal. www.ticktongrange.co.uk
“A classic English Stately Home, giving a sense of past glories and history”
Swinton Park, Masham, Swinton
With the Swinton Estate consisting of 20,000 acres, and also being one of the largest privately owned estates in England, it’s hard not to have high expectations for the Swinton Park Hotel, which finds itself surrounded by parkland, woodland and swathes of invigorating open space. Fortunately, these are more than matched by the imposing, castle-like structure, clad in creepers and offering a comfortable mix of the modern and the traditional.
A classic English Stately Home image is presented throughout Swinton Park, with paintings, wood and dark colours giving a sense of past glories and history. This is tempered however by the new spa centre and restaurant, located in a separate building, and offering guests light colours and modern fittings in a contrasting yet not obtrusive manner.
Much charm is added to Swinton Park by its vast range of activities and events, all with a countryside feel. From fishing to shooting, falconry displays and cooking, alongside of course walking and hiking, it isn’t hard why many guests spend the entire duration of their visit in and around the hotel itself.
Bedrooms range in size and style, and favour a rustic yet modern touch, with three Signature Suites featuring the most ornate furnishings. Food comes via the 3 AA Rosette Samuel’s Restaurant, which offers formal dining from a menu concentrating on produce from the Estate itself. The Terrace is more relaxed, found within the Swinton Country Club and Spa, and has more of an emphasis on sharing plates and casual dining. hotel.swintonestate.com
Star Inn, Harome
Looking like something from a chocolate box lid, the big draw of the Star Inn, in the village of Harome, is inevitably its Michelin starred restaurant. Local sourcing is the backbone of the food prepared by chef Andrew Pern, with many of his ingredients produced in the back garden. The menu focusses heavily on fish and meat dishes, with an overriding Yorkshire slant featuring creative and interesting elements.
The village of Harome is relatively remote, and as a result provides a welcome chance for wandering and taking in local life, before perhaps venturing a little further afield to Helmsley or Pickering where many attractive sights make a visit worthwhile.
Rooms are to be found across the road from the pub, in the form of converted farm buildings. Décor is rustic, rural and warm, with each of the nine bedrooms individually designed and containing unique and fascinating features such as a rope slung bed, pianos, and perhaps most unusually, a snooker table. A lounge usually features an especially welcoming open wood fire, and breakfast is served in The Wheelhouse, at an octagon table, which adds much to the feeling that the Star Inn has given serious thought as to making itself stand out and offer guests features that can become talking points. www.thestaratharome.co.uk
The Yorke Arms, Ramsgill-in-Nidderdale
If you are looking to experience the fantastic scenery of the Yorkshire countryside you need look no further than Nidderdale, which was officially designated an area of outstanding natural beauty in 1994. The Yorke Arms, nestled in the village, is an 18th century coach house and shooting lodge, covered in ivy, and featuring low beamed ceilings and a firmly traditional style of design. Priding itself as a ‘Michelin starred restaurant with rooms’, emphasis is rightly placed on the quality of the cuisine, with chef Frances Atkins offering up a menu focussing on home grown ingredients and imaginative twists on traditional favourites. A kitchen garden gives guests the chance to experience the pleasures of a warm countryside evening, with a gazebo also playing host to a special chef’s table.
The sixteen rooms, to be found either within the main building or in a separate cottage, offer a classic country style, with a firmly modern edge. Light colours dominate, giving a clear and crisp impression, and keeping The Yorke Arms free of the claustrophobic and oppressive feeling that can often dominate country hotels.
With the heritage cities of York and Harrogate just 40 minutes to an hour’s travel away, taking the opportunity to spend a day experiencing the many historical delights of both locations is possible, but The Yorke Arms remains remote enough to give a true feeling of life in the Yorkshire countryside. Indeed, the location is a major part of the appeal, and taking advantage of the relaxing experience and atmosphere is a significant reason to spend a few nights, and will find guests leaving feeling truly refreshed.
The hotel re-opens in the Summer after an extensive refurbishment – check site for details www.yorke-arms.co.uk
Wrea Head Hall, Scalby
Found on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, the Gothic mansion that is Wrea Head Hall offers history, compelling views, and a perfect opportunity to experience the Yorkshire countryside in the most atmospheric manner.
The first thing that strikes guests is inevitably the beauty of the Hall itself. Built in 1881 as a private home, evocative stone laced with gargoyles and wide sweeping windows draws visitors into the past, and the wood panelling within creates a powerful initial impression.
The Hall is set within acres of woodland, and as a result feels isolated and remote; something which adds to the charm on which it clearly prides itself. A fantastic hall with a large stone fireplace is a real highlight. Remaining seemingly untouched, the room acts like a form of time capsule, and offers incredible views across the grounds, which should be explored fully to appreciate the true natural beauty of the area.
Maintaining the past forms a large part of the agenda of Wrea Head Hall. Alongside the hall, a Library aims to pay its respects to the past, and the 1881 Restaurant is located in the mansions original dining room where antique mirrors, paintings and oak work well with a menu that emphasises local produce in seasonal ranges.
Twenty one bedrooms feature a selection of interesting nods to the past, the most intriguing of which is a 10ft tall Gothic Tester bed, although the novelty of the four poster beds many rooms contain is also attractive. The Gate House, located at the entrance to the estate offers a full kitchen and dining room, giving guests the option to self-cater, should they wish, and the light green and purple hues of the décor send off a charming countryside vibe. www.wreaheadhall.co.uk
“The hotel features a selection of incredible artwork that comes directly from the Chatsworth Devonshire Collection”
The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey
Anyone who has seen Bolton Abbey and its impressive estate never forget it. The Devonshire Arms, which dates back to the 17th century when it was a coaching inn, nestles deep within its grounds, and provides the perfect location to explore the breath-taking area of natural beauty.
The hotel is split into two wings, one newer than the other, and features a selection of incredible artwork that comes directly from the Chatsworth Devonshire Collection, leading to a country house feel. Décor throughout The Devonshire Arms sticks to this style, favouring four poster beds, warm light and brown colours, and open fires. Views from the bedroom are of special note, offering vistas that take in rivers, fields or the gardens.
Food comes from the Bolton Abbey estate itself, and is served in the 4 AA Rosette award winning Burlington Restaurant, which features a dress code, and an essential booking policy. Like the hotel itself, the menu concentrates on classical country flavours, but also includes more modern dishes. A more casual brasserie offers traditional British Sunday Roasts. Meat and fish dishes are popular menu items, as is the very large and extensive wine list.
A welcome and somewhat unexpected addition to The Devonshire Arms comes in the form of a fantastically equipped spa, found in an adjacent ancient barn. Indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna combine with therapy rooms, lounges and a gym to create a remarkable establishment, in one of the most relaxing and scenic places in Yorkshire. thedevonshirearms.co.uk
Rudding Park, Follifoot
A country house hotel that steers away from rustic and antique, Rudding Park is a perfect choice for those wishing to experience fine facilitates and features. At ninety rooms it is one of the biggest luxury hotels in the area, with guests eager to use the two golf courses, for which it is renowned. In addition to this, and possibly its biggest selling point is the enormous rooftop spa, named Best New Spa in the UK by the Good Spa Guide 2017. Gardens, swimming pools, saunas and hydrotherapy pools all feature, alongside a vast array of treatments and therapies, making the experience a vital part of any stay and a serious attribute to the hotel. For those looking for other forms of luxury, a gym and even private cinema are both excellent features.
Furnishings throughout Rudding Park are light and creamy, with modern aspects done in a tasteful manner and much attention to detail. Bedrooms, as would be expected in such a large establishment, vary quite widely in terms of sizes and features, but the Spa Rooms are an especially attractive option and contain a private steam room, sauna or spa bath. Self-catering cottages and luxury lodges are also available, sleeping between 4 and 8 people and making for perfect family getaway holidays.
The Clocktower Restaurant has a 2 AA Rosette Award and features the ever popular Yorkshire Tapas, alongside a wide selection of modern British dishes, and a well-crafted Vegetarian menu. Another option for eating comes courtesy of the Horto Restaurant, which itself holds a 3 AA Rosette Award and has a more contemporary feel, mandatory booking, and more expensive dishes. www.ruddingpark.co.uk
Words: Thomas Williams
Images: Mike Caldwell, Dave Mackinnon, Andrew Hays Watkins, F&TA, iStock