You might have heard, we get around the world a bit. That said we always find our way back home, and are proud to have our feet firmly planted in Yorkshire, where there’s always plenty to explore. About ten minutes outside of the centre of York stands Middlethorpe Hall – a 1699 country house turned luxurious hotel and spa.
The location in itself is something worth shouting about. It’s one and a half miles outside of the medieval city walls, and yet sits quite alone amid gardens, parkland and countryside. Bafflingly there’s a bus stop on the main road, with easy access to the town (or back from the town when you’ve had a few wines).
Still bearing frontage to that archetypal English country house, the building is striking yet comfortable. It was once the home of famous diarist Lady Mary Wortley Montagu who described it as a “pretty place” – and while she wasn’t one for exciting adjectives, she wasn’t wrong…
There are ten rooms in the main house, where wood panelling and oil pantings give true Downton Abbey vibes. It’s not overly fussy, but all of the thoughtful details are covered. Fresh flowers, thick books and well equipped old fashioned dressing tables will make you feel like you’ve landed in Judi Dench’s guest room. The rest of the rooms rest in the former stable block and cottages, renovated to the confidently traditional grandeur that extends from the main house.
A few of the other outbuildings now have other uses. A slightly unusual spa lives inside an old Edwardian cottage, with an indoor pool and gym inside a Victorian summerhouse. The spa has three beauty salons with qualified therapists who can sort you out with their long list of treatments – body, face or otherwise.
Short of announcing like a cavalry charge, dinner is made to be quite the occasion. In the summer, canapés are served on the lawn a la Buckingham Palace garden party before the candle lit dining rooms welcomes you in. There’s a choice between a la carte or taster menu, which is your call to make because take it from us, both have been crafted to perfection.
Head Chef Ashley Binder and Pastry Chef Paul Harrison have produced menus created with supplies from their Yorkshire doorstep that are fresh, seasonal and sustainable. Some classic favourites are served with a twist, like roast duck with a side of sauerkraut, or beef fillet with smoked bone marrow.
The wine list is a real weighty tome – 38 pages to be exact – and in our language, that’s fine by us. If you’re a wine novice who throws it back, or that type of person at a tasting who spits it back into the glass, you’ll find something on here to satisfy your lust. They even have a selection of vegan and organic wines, and a clever few pages of suggestions which help you pair your drinks with whatever you’ve ordered. Did you know a New Zealand Pinot Noir goes perfectly with winged game? Well, we do now…
Laura Bartlett was hosted by Middlethorpe Hall, a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels collection (never more than 50 hotels, to guarantee quality and exclusivity).The National Trust-owned William III country house hotel is set in 20 acres of grounds in York and has a 2-AA Rosette fine-dining restaurant and spa. An overnight stay costs from £219 per room (two sharing), including full English breakfast. Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).